Tuesday News & Notes

CLEMSON – As is his style, Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is very upfront in his answers when asked questions in reference to personnel matters or play, regardless of how painful the truth may be.

During his press conference Tuesday, which will be a weekly occurrence from now through the end of the season, Koenning was asked about a myriad of topics and as expected and appreciated he gave honest answers.

Here are a few of the questions:

He was asked whether he can see improvements from star defensive end Gaines Adams and he gave an answer that some fans probably need to hear.

"I still see Gaines making a tremendous amount of progress from last year," he said. "Now, the jury's out and we'll see how Saturday's go. Is he going to play like everybody says he's supposed to or if he's just going to be a mere mortal?

"Everybody's got this ‘S' on his chest right now. I don't know how fair all that is, but that's what the expectations are. He's still a young man learning how to play a position."

Koenning was also asked about whether the defense will be able to maintain the high level it played at during the second half of last year considering how young the players are.

He followed by offering some pretty nice insight about the freshmen.

"That's a good question and I don't know," he said. "I guess time will tell with that. In my gut, I think the Crezdon Butlers, the Jeremy Campbells and Kevin Alexanders and Ricky Sapps and Jamie Cumbies by game four will be as good or better than some guys. I truly believe that in my heart.

"But at what cost and is it a significant amount in difference to burn a kid's (redshirt) year when you can have someone you can get by with? I think there's a lot of question marks right there."

Koenning is known for having basically no tolerance for mistakes. If a player gets beat even though he did what he was supposed to do, he can live with it. But it's when a player does something fundamentally wrong that drives him nuts, even when there's a good result at the end of the play.

"I'm sure I'll be blowing a gasket and hollering at somebody Saturday," he said. "I'm trying not to do that. They've got a going joke about how long will I last before I do it."

DIFFERENTIATING C.J. AND J.D: For maybe the first time this year, someone has articulated the major differences in the running styles between James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

Just listening to how center Dustin Fry described the two has everyone, including the generally cynical media, anxiously waiting to see what these two are going to do this year.

"Some of the runs that James gets, he'll go about 40 yards, where C.J. will probably break those," Fry said. "That's not taking anything away from James at all. It's just the type of back C.J. is and how high his knees are and just how fast and just how explosive he is. He'll probably score on a lot of runs that other backs may just get 30 or 40-yard gains. …

"James has that low (style). He doesn't lift his legs up; he glides. He has that little shifty type body. C.J. has those real high knees. It looks like he's doing high knee (drills) when he runs. It's more jitterbug. Where James just kind of glides and shakes, he more of real hard cut."

With those two, plus Reggie Merriweather in the backfield, Fry said the team's goals are to put up some real big numbers this year.

"We want to rush for nearly 200 yards every game," he said. "And we'd like to have two 1,000-yard rushers this year, too. That's just goals we'd like to have. I think if we rush for 180 to 200 yards every game, I think it's going to be a pretty successful season."

When asked if Spiller reminded him of famed 1980s San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig with the high knees, Fry looked puzzled.

"I have no idea who Roger Craig is," he said of the first NFL running back to gain 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year. "I'll have to look him up."

Yep. Getting old sucks.

TAKE OUT THE TRASH: Following a Florida Atlantic defensive lineman's remarks about the Clemson offensive line, Fry was more amused than upset.

"That's fine," Fry said. "I'm not even going to get involved in that. We kind of talk our trash when we snap the ball … or just point to the scoreboard. … I know the boys from Florida like to run their mouth a little bit and that's fine. We're used to that. He can keep talking if he wants. It doesn't bother me at all. It's more funny than anything.

"Let them get their talk in the first game and then they won't have anything to talk about after that."

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