By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Clemson’s first scrimmage Saturday, with four starters on the defensive side out, Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele spoke to the media about looking at and evaluating each player on the defensive side as individuals, not looking solely at the result of a play. Here are his thoughts on how his defense performed as a whole and who stood out to him in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Overall, at the first scrimmage of fall camp what you have to be careful of is evaluating the result of a situation, the frustration of the completion of a pass, you’ve got to look at the individuals,” Steele said. “Case in point, today Andre (Branch), Rashard (Hall), and Xavier (Brewer) weren’t there today and Jonathan (Meeks) went down, so four starters were out so you’ve got to not think about that and look at each individual playing and evaluate how they’re doing which is hard to do.”
Steele was very impressed today with the play of defensive tackles Rennie Moore and Brandon Thompson.
“Brandon and Rennie I think the video is going to show were effective,” Steele said. “We’ve got to get a little bit better at pushing the pocket in a pass rush with those guys up front.”
One player Steele couldn’t compliment enough was defensive end Malliciah Goodman, a player that both he and Coach Swinney have compared this fall to Da’Quan Bowers and his transformation last fall.
“Malliciah played exceptionally well today,” Steele said. “He brought his A game today, I still have to evaluate his film but he definitely impressed me. He has mastered the technique at the position and is really playing well with his hands. His footwork and power are both good and he’s just really playing well right now.”
At linebacker today, Corico Hawkins, Tig Willard and Quandon Christian got to work mostly with the first team however Steele inserted freshmen linebackers Tony Steward, Stephone Anthony and BJ Goodson in with the second team and although they made some mistakes, they continued to improve.
“The freshmen went out there and worked hard,” Steele said. “They definitely made mistakes, one mistake Tony (Steward) made, was costly, they got a 30 yard gain. But he knew what he had he just let his eyes drift on him but then all of the sudden when he realized he had made the mistake you saw a jet kick on and in fact Marion Hobby looked at me and said Coach did you see that? My point is that we’re coming along but we have to fine tune some things.”
The defense was very effective today against the run, allowing the first team offense on average 3.4 per rush and the second team only 1.4 per rush. However in the passing game, the defense allowed some catches that were costly however without Meeks, Hall, and Brewer in the secondary the coverages weren’t as tight as they should have been.
Although Steele reassured the media that today’s scrimmage was not a pretty sight and that the team isn’t ready for their first game just yet, he believes that he is working with some talented guys that will only continue to improve with more repetitions and more practice.
“They’ve got a good focus,” Steele said. “We’ve really got some talented guys that we’ve got to get ready through repetitions like today and put all of the moving parts together. We’ve got some good moving parts but we’ve just got to get it all together.”