Not All Gloom and Doom

CLEMSON – Yes, Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been brutally honest this season concerning the players on his defense and their problems.

But he also wants folks to know just because he's hard on them doesn't mean he has no faith in them.

It's actually quite the contrary.

While there are going to be more mistakes and more blown assignments, Koenning truly believes the players are on the cusp of putting together something pretty special. To him, it's just a matter of time.

And to prove his point, he compared Clemson's success defensively against that of Florida State. On the surface that might seem ludicrous, but in the two teams' three common opponents (Wake Forest, Miami and Boston College), the Tigers have yielded less yards in regulation.

The main difference, of course, is that the Seminoles won all three and Clemson lost all three.

Tigers gave up 49 fewer yards against Miami, 60 less to Wake Forest and 20 less to Boston College.

"There's a defense down there at Florida State that everybody thinks is pretty good and they're ranked in the top 10, yet with three common opponents, we've actually out-statistic them," Koenning said. "Are we where we want to be? No, not even close. … But it's important that you learn how to walk before you can run. … We've got some guys that still have to learn how to do a few things. …

"We have been making progress. But we've got to learn how to finish. Some guys have got to learn how to play better, especially some younger guys, because they're going to get put into some situations. And some older guys have got to learn how to play better."

Koenning also understands that at least nine freshmen and red-shirt freshmen have been getting significant playing time. And with youth, comes mistakes. But there's also the room for improvement.

"We're playing all these freshmen," he said. "We're trying to compare to other teams in our conference, but we're playing all these young guys on defense."

It's not like there are blown calls or missed tackles or even missed assignments on every play. It's just been a couple here and a couple there. The problem is that the bad plays have led to big outcomes and scores.

"We do a great job when we do what we're supposed to do. It's the times when maybe we don't (do the assignments)," Koenning said. "I'm pushing hard to be as close to perfect. It goes back to that old Oakland Raiders thing, ‘If you strive for perfection, you may get excellence.' I'm pushing really hard to be as good as we can be." Top Stories