By Ashley Denny.
Clemson’s Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele is not one to brag but he has definitely been pleased with the overall performance of his defense so far during Clemson’s spring practice sessions.
TCI spoke with Steele after the Tiger’s first full scrimmage on Wednesday and here’s what he had to say about his defense and what he’s seen so far from his talented group.
“What I’m most please with today is the fact that we didn’t give up any big plays,” Steele said. “The longest play against our first team defense was 22 yards, so we can manage that.”
Although the defense performed well throughout the scrimmage, Steele believes that there is still room for improvement.
“Overall we did some good things, some really good things,” Steele said. “But there were two plays that we had mental errors on so we need to improve in that area. But all in all I feel we tackled good and had good pass rush”
According to Steele the defense ended the day with 16 sacks, and did an excellent job at keeping the quarterback in the pocket; however he knows that his team needs to do a better job at making plays on the ball.
Players like sophomore Justin Parker and senior Rennie Moore have really caught Coach Steele’s eye this spring.
“JP, last year during the season it was a mental error every other play out of freshman nervousness,” Steele said. “But now he’s going out there and playing like he’s been here for five years now and playing really good.”
As for Moore? He’s had big shoes to fill as he’s taking over Jarvis Jenkins’s role on the defensive line however Coach Steele couldn’t be prouder of the way he’s proved himself thus far.
“The biggest thing is Rennie Moore has stepped up to the plate,” Steele said. “He’s trying to be that Jarvis feeling and that’s big shoes to fill and they’re different style players but he continues to improve.”
Steele has also been impressed with the performance of Tavaris Barnes and how he’s continued to prove that he’s ready to earn more minutes this season.
“TB, he’s a big body,” Steele said. “He’s got a lot of pride about what he does, he’s strong and explosive, doesn’t quite know all of what he’s doing yet but he plays hard and gets a lot better every day.”
Although Steele is pleased with the progress his defense has made over the past seven practices, he knows they still have a long way to go before they’ll be ready for the season. But like Coach Swinney he is encouraged with what he’s seen so far and hopes that his defense will continue to improve and decrease the amount of mental errors made at practice.