Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and his style of defense have come under the scrutiny by fans and critics alike since the beginning of the season.
Even though the defense has done well at times, it has looked lost and out of sorts at others. In addition, the players have had trouble learning all the various assignments and as a result, Koenning has drastically reduced the defensive calls.
Koenning's defense is loosely based on that used by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers and famed defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Many college and pro teams across the country have employed it.
But is it really that difficult to learn, as it sometimes appears to be for these Tigers? Should it be easier to grasp and is Koenning the right man teach it? Is he in over his head as some have suggested?
To get the answers, all one has to do is look at his resume. A quick review reveals he helped make Troy statistically one of the best defenses in the county with the exact same defense he's installing at Clemson.
For even more clarification and information about the man and his defensee, speak to one of Keonning's former players. And who better than DeMarcus Ware, who played ‘Bandit' at Troy and was just selected in the first round as the No. 11 overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2005 NFL Draft.
"I learned a lot from him, he's a great coach," Ware said in an exclusive interview with CUTigers.com. "He knows what everyone is supposed to do on every play, and he knows everything you're not doing. He'd correct me on something, and I'd think, ‘How'd he know I didn't get underneath that guy?' You can't hide from him. He doesn't miss a thing."
While it's true that Troy had a similar style of defense already in place when Koenning first arrived, one that switched back-and-forth between the 3-4 and 4-3, he tweaked it and made slight alterations.
One thing that Ware first noticed about Koenning was just how serious his new coach was, but at the same time, how flexible and personable he was.
‘He's kind of a drill sergeant," Ware said. "He'll really get at you at practice. But he also listens to you. We could come off the field and say, ‘Let's try this, let's try that,' based on something we saw from the offense and he'd listen. We could suggest a play that might work, and he'd say, ‘OK, we'll run it.' If it worked, we'd do it again. If it didn't work, that's the last we'd see of it in that game.
Over the course of two years, Ware and Koenning developed a special bond on and off the field. Nonetheless, when it was time to be serious, Koenning was all business and he expected the same out of his players.
"No, you don't make jokes about him," said Ware, laughing. "He's all business. He's a good guy, but on the field, we're there to work. On road trips, he's approachable, you can talk to him. But when you talk to him, it's about football. He's always thinking about football."
Ware Speaks on Koenning's Defense
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