Koenning gets game ball

CLEMSON – When Vic Koenning came to Clemson as the new defensive coordinator prior to the start of last season, not a lot was known about the former Wyoming head coach.

However, it should be obvious, even to the most casual of football fans, that he knows how to shut down the opposition's best player.

Not surprisingly, he did it to Georgia Tech star receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Reggie Ball.

For the first time in his collegiate career, Johnson finished a game without a catch, which ends a streak of 30 consecutive games with at least two receptions. Ball had an interception and completed less than 50 percent of his pass attempts.

And for that, Koenning was given the game ball by head coach Tommy Bowden.

Koenning said he mixed in coverages, which made it appear that Johnson was being double-teamed, when in reality, he wasn't.

"There were a couple of times in the fourth quarter that he got open, but our over-the-top guys were zeroed in on him," Koenning said. "I think he didn't feel like taking (a big hit)."

As far as defending Ball, Koenning opted to force the defensive pressure up the middle and make it difficult for the smallish Ball see over the offensive and defensive linemen, which caused him to have to roll out to see the open field, which is exactly what Koenning wanted.

"They say Reggie Ball's 5-11, but he's probably 5-9," Koenning said. "We were going to pack throwing lanes and for him to see the inside passes were going to be really hard, even with a 6-6 (Johnson).

"So when he runs out, we questioned his ability to throw on the run and we were going to try and run him down."

It worked basically to perfection.

More injuries
On third the third play on offense for Clemson, one of the team's most important players and one of the ACC's best offensive line went down with a right knee injury.

Senior left guard, Roman Fry, was helped off the field and taken straight back to the locker room. There is no word on his knee. The results of an MRI will be revealed Sunday.

"I hate it for him," said center Dustin Fry. "I know he wanted to be out there so bad and experience the win."

The other major injury occurred to tight end Thomas Hunter, who hurt his shoulder in the second quarter and never returned.

The extent of his injury will also be revealed Sunday.

Tailback James Davis sustained a stinger to his shoulder in the second quarter and was held out of action while some extra padding could be placed under his shoulder pads. He said he is fine and will play Thursday night at Virginia Tech.

Second place and BCS
Representatives from the Fiesta, Gator, Champs, Orange and Sugar bowls were on hand. The ACC champ automatically goes to the Orange Bowl, but there's a chance that Clemson could receive the ACC's first-ever at-large bid into the BCS.

Should the Tigers and Boston College each win out, the Eagles will get the trip to the ACC Championship, Clemson being left out at 11-1 and ranked in the top 10. That would likely mean an at-large bid to the BCS for the Tigers since there's an extra BCS game this year.

"We've got to keep winning," Dustin Fry said. "But hopefully (Boston College) will tumble. Hopefully things will work out in our favor."

Keeping his word
After the win against Temple in Charlotte, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said that if the Tigers won the coin toss that they would chose to receive for the first time this year in order to prevent the opposition from getting a big kickoff return.

And that's exactly what he did. The Tigers won the toss and elected to receive, which resulted in them starting the game's first drive at their own 25.

Quick hits
The last known time the Tigers wore all purple came in the 1940 Cotton Bowl. … Wide receiver Chansi Stuckey didn't dress for the game. He wore his jersey and sweat pants. …

Tailback Reggie Merriweather came into the game with 7:15 left in the second quarter. He only played a couple of plays and didn't record a carry. It was his first action on the field since spraining his ankle against North Carolina. …

Defensive end Gaines Adams set a new Clemson record by getting a sack in six straight games. He now stands just four sacks shy of tying Michael Dean Perry's all-time record of 24. … Davis has seven 100-yard rushing games, all of which have come at night. … Clemson is now 31-3-2 on homecoming.

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