CLEMSON — Kevin Steele sounded like a far happier man Saturday afternoon. After a ragged effort against Wofford, full of missed tackles, Clemson’s defense rebounded against No.21 Auburn. Following a slow start that built a 21-7 hole midway through the second quarter, the Tigers were much better the rest of the way, allowing a lone field goal.
Steele expounded on that effort and more in a post-game briefing with reporters:
Overall outlook: “We played good second-half defense, we’ve got to start playing first-half defense the same way. All correctable things. We got double coverage, they got a touchdown pass in double coverage. We’ve got to do a better job, help them play better technique, placement was a bit of a problem in the first half to say the least.
Second half, we had the same problem and then we had an over read where our (man) was out in the middle of the field. We stepped up when we had to.”
On the lack of pass rush:
“They were max protecting a whole lot. They had seven guys in there and three-man routes. You had to pick when to pressure and how to pressure. Four-man rush puts a little stress on things, because it’s four men trying to get in there on seven. The coverage has got to be good.”
On panic about the early deficit:
“Obviously, concerned. Stay calm, and get things corrected. When you play someone that’s won 17 games in a row, you’ve got to stay calm and get things corrected. Our guys, we preach that. Not panicking, not overreacting. Stay calm, we’ll get it fixed.”
On Coty Sensabaugh, who dropped a sure pick-six interception but rebounded to end an Auburn drive with an interception at the Clemson 5:
“That’d have been a house call if he caught that first one. We were in a pressure, and they box-called it, or moved to the sideline to get another call. They knew the pressure was coming, and we killed out of it and went to zone coverage, and (Trotter) just threw it to them. I think he was probably thinking he had man coverage.”
On tackling, a major concern entering the week:
“I didn’t see as many (missed tackles). There were a couple times we didn’t have any missed tackles, but there was nobody there. All in all, we’ve still got a ton of things to correct. We’re a young defensive group, and we’re giving up way too much. You keep playing with fire, you’re going to get burned. We’re 3-0, but you keep playing with fire, you’re going to get burnt if you don’t correct the simple things. That’s our job as coaches to correct.”
On Rennie Moore: Rennie and Brandon (Thompson), that’s where it starts with us. If you notice, nobody’s running the ball up inside, nobody. Wofford ran the trap a couple times on the edge, but there’s nobody running inside. They’re all trying to run outside. That’s why we’ve got to do a better job of setting that edge.”