Koenning: 24 Missed Tackles Too Much

CLEMSON – When you actually sit down and think about it, the job that the Clemson defense has done this year with so many injuries is pretty amazing. Nonetheless, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is never satisfied. He wants the unit to play better.

During his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, he admitted that with the exception of three busted plays, the defense did a nice job in slowing down the Virginia Tech offense, despite the big rushing number put up by Branden Ore.

"If you take away those three plays, they're sitting there with 230 yards in 71 plays," he said. "That wouldn't be an overall bad performance. But we made those plays."

The one aspect, though, that troubled Koenning greatly were the 24 missed tackles he said the Tigers made.

"We were missing tackles in phone booths," he said. "We had them right here and didn't make them."

He was asked if that was the most by Clemson this year and he quipped, "I'm sure it's probably the most in the history of the planet. … We did a lot of good things, but it's really hard and it's something that's going to take awhile for us to get over."

While Koenning believes the Tigers will have a good game plan for Maryland, he's also a little worried about the hangover effect following such a tough loss.

"We're going to have to play with as much passion as we played against Georgia Tech," he said. "I don't think there's any different way of looking at it. I just hope our guys get into the mindset. I really have a lot of concern about that. …

"That's been the biggest thing with the injuries, you don't have Anthony Waters there and just grabbing by the throat and saying, ‘You're going to follow me.' We have some other guys trying a little bit, but it's just not in their temperament."

On the other hand, Koenning believes this is a good opportunity for his defense to measure itself and find out what kind of players they really are.

"They're going to be tough and physical, without a doubt," he said of Maryland. "We're going to be tested. I want to see how tough we are."

Sam linebacker
Apparently Koenning and the staff were so unhappy with the results from Sam linebacker in recent weeks, that they considered trying some new players there.

As it stands now, Maurice Nelson is the starter, with Sadat Chambers as the backup.

"Right now, there's nobody better than (Maurice) on a consistent basis," Koenning said. "That's a position where we've had to change our mindset on what we do at that position a great deal. We went back and talked about trying to make a change and changeup different guys at different spots. It's been an interesting deal trying to make an effective defense and trying to get those guys in the right position."

Thoughts on Proctor
Here are some transcripts from some senior offensive players when asked about quarterback Will Proctor and his performance by various reporters:

Q: It seems that Will doesn't act with as much emotion as he did last year in his start against Duke. Would you agree?

"I believe that's just maturity. I really believe that he actually thought that he's got to be more serious to play the bigger that he has to play now that Charlie's gone. Yeah, he's fallen into a slump a little bit, but I believe he'll bounce back. I've got confidence in him. His enthusiasm is good. I'm not going to lose faith in him. I'm going to keep protecting him and encouraging him. But that thunder in him, you don't see as much as you saw in that game when he first started."

Q: Was there some lack of confidence in himself against Virginia Tech? Against Boston College, he felt like nothing could go wrong.

"When nothing is going wrong, that's easy to do and fall into that mindset. But you could see he was getting frustrated with the throws going over somebody's head or receivers were dropping them. That's just frustration. That's a mindset that he has to learn how to keep level and keep playing."

Q: Do you guys talk to him about staying positive and fighting through the problems?

"On the sidelines and during practice, we tell him to keep his head up because he's going to have games like that where at times nothing is going right. And to see what type of player you are is how you play during those times. Are you going to bounce back and show enthusiasm and continue to be a leader? I believe he'll bounce back this weekend. I still have confidence in him."

Q: Were you surprised with what happened with the offense and the passing game?

"We were running the ball a lot and the passing game took a backseat to the running game. We had a couple of games where we didn't throw much and we ran a lot. He's not just going to come back and be perfect. It might take a couple of games for it to get back to where we had it like during Boston College times."

Q: What's the biggest difference in Will Proctor between now and earlier in the year?

"I think the biggest difference I saw was he was on early and then he threw a couple of good balls and we didn't make plays and I kind of think that shot his confidence a little bit. The biggest difference was in the Boston College game he felt like he could make any throw. Virginia Tech was the total opposite."

Q: Do you see this being a continuing problem?

"He's the type of guy where he wants to come back and do better. He had a good practice Monday. He was putting much more emphasis on trying to complete passes."

Q: It was thought that Will would be a better fit and upgrade for this offense over Charlie because he could run the ball and would have a better command of the offense, why hasn't that come to fruition consistently?

"I have no idea. I really haven't thought about that. The season's not over yet. I can't really tell you. Ask me at the end of the season and I might have a better answer.

"I don't have any less confidence in Will. I know fans out there do and fans like to talk a lot. But I really have no less confidence. I don't see Will doing anything in different in practice. I seem him working just as hard. Some guys struggle and they turn it around.

"Not every pass he threw on Thursday was bad, some were dropped. I'm going to do everything I can to support Will. If he comes out and throws for 300 yards in the next three games, I'm sure people will be putting him up on their shoulders."

CUTigers.com Top Stories