By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Each week this season, we’ve come away from the game with question marks surrounding Kevin Steele’s defense, their tackling woes, and their ability to stop big plays. Yesterday in Clemson’s win against #11 Florida State, a lot of those questions were answered as the Tigers held FSU to only 21 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“I thought we did some good things today,” Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele said. “We were very effective against their run game, until late we did not rush the passer very effectively because there were a lot of quick balls thrown. We also have to continue to try to eliminate the big plays, but all in all we got it done. When it was on the line in the two minute situation, our guys stepped up to the plate because if they didn’t it would have gotten real interesting.”
In Steele’s mind, the fact that Clemson is now 4-0 is not important; instead their 1-0 record in the ACC is what impresses him.
“The biggest thing is that we won our first ACC game,” Steele said. “In this league, if you don’t win that first one, it puts you behind the eight ball so in that regard it helps us to win that first one; it makes it difficult to come back if you don’t. Somebody else is driving when that happens, especially when it’s a divisional game.”
With his defense making the final stop of the game, sacking FSU’s quarterback Clint Trickett in a 4th and 9 situation to win the game, Steele believes that his defense is starting to gain confidence in themselves and their ability to make big plays.
“I’m no psychologist, but I know this, you get more confidence out of winning than losing,” Steele said. “I thought Andre (Branch), Rennie (Moore) and Brandon (Thompson) were relentlessly kept working. I thought our safeties Jonathan (Meeks) and Rashard (Hall) tackled better today; they did a great job orchestrating things. And our young corners, #21 Robinson hasn’t played very much and #17 Breeland has only started playing this year, they got burned a few times today, but they continued to work and made big stops.”
Although they made the stop to win the game, Steele knows that his defense has to continue to improve if they want to continue to win, so expect to see even more improvement next week against Virginia Tech.