By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Clemson’s final day of fall camp before school starts back up on Wednesday, Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele spoke to the media about topics like the defensive depth chart, how the freshmen linebackers have progressed and the energy he has seen out of the team the last few days of practice.
At both the secondary positions and linebacker, Steele believes that he and the coaching staff are pretty close to figuring out the rotations.
“I’m not ready to talk about it yet but I’d say we’re pretty close to figuring out the rotations at both the secondary positions and linebacker,” Steele said. “At linebacker, we’ve got more than we’ve had in years past that are available to us to play, not ready to disclose that either, I’ll probably decide the rotations on the bus ride over from the hotel on September 3rd.”
Steele was able to disclose who out of the secondary positions were catching his eye and gave an idea of how the rotation would go.
“In the secondary obviously you’ve got Coty Sensabaugh, Bashaud Breeland and Xavier Brewer,” Steele said. “They give us a mix at corner and nickel and you have Martin Jenkins kind of waiting in the wings. At safety you’ve really got five guys, I don’t know what direction we’ll head in but you’ve got Jonathan Meeks, Rashard Hall, and Lewis, all three of those guys have played a good bit. Then you’ve got Garry Peters and although he’s sick right now, he did some good things for us during camp and Robert Smith, both of those guys have done good things but aren’t quite there yet.”
At linebacker, the position that a lot of Clemson fans have been following because of highly recruited linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony entering their first season as Tigers, Steele feels like all of the linebackers have had good quality reps throughout fall camp.
“At SAM linebacker, you’ve got Quandon (Christian), Justin (Parker), and Lateek (Townsend) they’ve all had good quality reps, and we’re going to need those reps down the road. At MIKE linebacker, depending on which package we’re in and what we’re trying to stop, we’ve got Corico (Hawkins), Spencer (Shuey) and Stephone (Anthony). Even in the nickel package we can put Justin (Parker) in that mix, we’ve got four quality guys there. Tig (Willard), Tony (Steward) and Colton (Walls) are at the outside linebacker position, that’s kind of that mix, all of them have had good quality reps, hasn’t been decided yet what direction we’re going to go as far as percentage of playing time, voiding a year or not.”
Because it is still up in the air, Steele hasn’t mentioned to any of the freshmen on defense that they will be avoiding the redshirt.
“We just broke camp so we haven’t had a chance to sit down and have our meetings yet,” Steele said. “We haven’t had the meeting in which we’d say, I feel he’d get this much playing time or that much playing time, is it warrant playing him or not?”
One of the biggest surprises for Steele is at a defensive position that is hardly brought up, defensive tackle.
“DeShawn Williams and Grady Jarrett, they’re young, obviously they’ve got those old guys in front of them but they’ve both had good camps, very good camps.”
Compared to last year, Steele believes his defense has a lot of talented players that lack experience, and is concerned with the depth they have up front.
“I’m very concerned with our depth up front across the board,” Steele said. “You line that first group up, and you’ve got a lot of playing time. You’ve got Malliciah, Brandon, Rennie, and Branch. Past that, Shatley is really the only one that has bit the bullet very much other than Kourtnei Brown.”