By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Although Clemson’s defense has been inconsistent at times this season, when it comes to clutch situations like it did Saturday against Wake Forest in the 4th quarter, the defense has been great at getting the job done and getting the ball back into quarterback Tajh Boyd’s hands.
“Well the game has an ebb and flow and everyone remembers the game differently,” Steele said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that the first through third quarters were awful, we had two plays in the third quarter which were pretty ugly and outside of that there were 7 points on the board in three quarters. The fourth quarter went our way and when you look at the gray sheet you’ll see why. The game plan was pretty simple, and we applied it very well and executed it well in the 4th quarter.”
The past two weeks, the Tigers’ have seemed out of sync, however when asked Coach Steele believed comparing the Wake Forest game and Georgia Tech game was like comparing apples to watermelons.
“There’s no carry over at all there,” Steele said. “You talk about a scheme that gets executed for one week and a game and then you put it on the shelf and wait until next week, and the scheme you saw last week that’s just what we do.”
NC State, a team that lost its quarterback Russell Wilson to a transfer during the offseason, runs its offensive differently this season under quarterback Mike Glennon.
“With Wilson, there was a lot more threat of the run, the pull down and scramble because he didn’t see what he liked,” Steele said. “Outside of that, the offense is relatively the same. They do have what we call the Seattle Route, which is the down the field deep throw threat. They don’t use this all of the time but will try. #8 has a very strong arm and will take his shots. ”
Steele however knows that he and his defensive players don’t have anything to prove, they don’t play to prove anything to anyone.
“We don’t play to prove, who are we going to prove to?” Steele said. “We’re a defensive unit that when we go to work, we know what we do well and what we have to improve on. We’re not into proving, we’re into at the end of the game, do we have more points than the other team and that’s happened 9 times out of 10 this season. If you give a person $1,000,000 in a sack, if you’re not careful they’ll complain about the sack.”
When the Tigers’ got into a 28-14 hole against the Demon Deacons, one thing Clemson’s players weren’t doing on the sideline was panicking.
“You’re assuming that they’d lost themselves, at no point in time could you see frustration or panic in their faces,” Steele said. “Everything was very calm, they’d given up a punt return for a touchdown and two turnovers for touchdowns, and we’ll get this thing done some way. That was the mindset.”
How rare is that quality in a team?
“In a 9-1 team, it’s very common, in 3-8 teams it’s real rare,” Steele said. “It’s the whole body of work, that’s what you’re seeing take place. Everyone is striving for perfection, defense wants to shut out, and offense wants to score on every possession. And if that doesn’t happen then you have to dissect what you’re doing.”
Steele knows that it’s easy to be a fan and be critical, but when you are a coach and you’re dealing with the team, it’s clear that they’ll coach hard but in a teaching, correcting manner, not in a your no good manner.
“When you’re a coach you’re dealing with the team every day, their mindset and where they’re going, what they’re doing,” Steele said. “There’s a fine line between being critical and teaching and as a coach you can’t step over that line.”