Koenning: No Answers for Johnson?

CLEMSON – Vic Koenning readily admits that Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a great player. However, the Clemson defensive coordinator also believes the sophomore uses illegal tactics to get those catches and that the officials turn a blind eye toward those infractions.

Johnson, who stands 6-foot-4, is widely regarded as the best receiver in the ACC and one of the best in the country.

Through six games, the sophomore has 32 receptions for 581 yards and four touchdowns. He's also the one that caught the game-winning touchdown pass with less than 10 seconds last year against the Tigers.

But Koenning believes there's more to Johnson's numbers than sheer greatness, especially when it comes to fade or long passes.

"They're not going to let you touch him," Koenning said. "You can't touch him, but he can push you and be all over your back. It's been a complete one-way street on the film we've seen."

One of the reason's it's a daunting task for the majority of cornerback to cover Johnson is because of his height. For example, he is six inches taller than Clemson's Tye Hill.

"It's like if you're playing against Shaquille O'Neal and you get in front of him and he pushes off and gets open," Koenning said. "So, if you front him, he pushes off. If you get behind him and push him (then it's a penalty). I wish I could sit there and go into a game and say if he pushes they're going to throw the foul. But I don't think that happens. That's just the nature of the way games are done. It's harder for the defensive player.

"It seems like on the film that we've seen that there is a lot of pushing and shoving. He is a big guy, and if you front him you don't have much of a chance because he's going to put his hands in your back and push in and get away. He just does it and has gotten away with it in every game we've seen. Not being critical, it's just that he's gotten away with it. I haven't seen, that I can recall, one time that he's been called and I can probably find five times on film where he's pushed off and got open."

Koenning said there aren't a lot of answers to slowing down Johnson.

If the Tigers cover him with two defenders, then that leaves the other receivers a better chance of getting open, not to mention that it takes away support from stopping the run and the scrambling of quarterback Reggie Ball.

"We've just got to kind of play it straight," Koenning said. "I think that he's a very physical receiver. I'm not chastising the officials or anything. I'm just saying that he's a physical receiver and that he's going to find a way to get open.

"He can have two guys on him and sling one off of him and find the ball and he catches the ball. And we don't feel good about it, but he's going to find a way to getting the football. By hook or by crook, he's going to find a way to getting the football."

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