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Steele Impressed with Overall Performance Against Clemson

Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele (Photo: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele spoke with the media on Monday night following a tough loss to Clemson on Saturday night, 19-14. In Steele’s first game as the Tigers defensive coordinator, his team held Clemson to under 400 yards of total offense, and less that 20 points.

Steele first mentioned the effort and physicality of the defense in the Clemson game, and how well that the defense put plays behind them, and looked forward. He said that even though the defense showcased a winning attitude, that what ultimately matters in the end, is the scoreboard. “Our job as a defense, is to make sure that we keep them (our opponent) to at least one less point than what’s scored.” said Steele of the game. “It’s not something that we are going to accept. We are going to very work hard to build on the positives of the game.” Those positives he mentioned were only giving up 3.4 yards per carry, and coverage.

Some of the takeaways from the game that Steele wants to work on, is third down penalties, and “getting the top knocked off of the coverage.”

On Nate Ruffin and Tray Matthews:

“They played the run very well, they communicated well. We had no major bust in the secondary, that’s hard to do, particularly with the multiplicity of formations and motions that you have. They are in charge of that, they are the quarterbacks back there.”

On Freshman Marlon Davidson’s performance:

“He, as a rookie, did very well. He had a winning grade, which is hard to do as a rookie. He did well.”

On working with a new staff:

“This has been incredibly a joyful experience. When it doesn’t gel, it’s tough. Travis (Williams), Wesley (McGriff), Rodney (Garner), and I spend a lot of time together. We have created a bond, we are on the same page. Philosophically, we fit. We counterbalance each other, the game management was very easy.”

Blitzing on passing plays:

“We will do what we need to do, based on how we think we match up personnel wise, who the quarterback is, how we can affect the quarterback.” On blitzing Clemson quarterback, Deshaun Watson, “A guy that is as smart as what I think that quarterback is, we can’t sit there and throw a fastball. We had to throw a curve, a slider, sometimes, we had to throw a knuckleball to keep him off balance.”

On Linebacker’s performance:

“I thought Deshaun (Davis), and Darrell (Williams), and Tre (Williams) did an outstanding job. They quarterbacked the defense very well, they fit the run very well, and in the passing game, they were effective. They are instinctive guys, and I think that showed up. They study the game, they don't just go out there and play.”

On Derrick Brown’s fumble recovery:

“We teach them out there, that if you’re in traffic, get on it, curl up, don't get up until you hear the whistle. He followed that to a T. We had to come and get him off the ground. He was curled up like a little baby.”

Depth on the defensive line:

“I don't know if I have ever heard of eleven guys playing in a game that is that close, against two teams that are the type of teams that were out there. They all played well, and it allowed us to keep them fresh.”

On Josh Holsey:

“He’s a coach on the field. He’s a pro. He knows how to do his job, he communicates it well. He plays really good technique, he has ice water in his veins. When I first got here and met with the players individually, I asked Josh, “what would you like to see happen this year?”, and he said “Coach, I just want to get on the field and play.” and he did just that”

On Tray Matthews’ unsportsmanlike conduct penalty:

“That is between Tray and I”

On TJ Neal’s tweet’s following the game against Clemson:

“At 58 years old, I don't totally grasp all of that. It's a little different that when I was younger. You couldn't call anybody because your grandma was on the party line. We have talked about how to manage that. We are always in a process of teaching guys on and off the field about how we handle things. The way to say it, is that it has no affect on playing time.”

On Arkansas State:

“They changed (offensive) coordinators, they have the coordinator from Middle Tennessee State. Their Head Coach is an offensive guy. We have had to study Arkansas State from last year, and Middle Tennessee State last year, and the one game we have from 2016. They have won their league 4 of the last 5 years. They are a good football team. They have speed on the edge. They have a transfer quarterback that has an arm, and moves very well. They have all five starters back on the offensive line. They are a good football team.”

On a possible Stephen Roberts return vs Arkansas State:

“I could answer that, I know the answer, but I have a rule about discipline, so I’ll let Coach (Malzahn) handle that tomorrow”

Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn is scheduled to hold his weekly press conference tomorrow at 11:15AM.

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