Tuesdays with Vic

CLEMSON – It's that time again for everyone's favorite weekly installment of "Tuesday's With Vic" as Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning sits down with a small group of media every Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics and offer insight as only he can.

Here are some of his thoughts leading up to the season opener against Florida State.

* This week's tilt against the Seminoles is the third for Koenning and thus far, he's a perfect 2-0 in his previous meetings. Moreover, Clemson is 3-1 in its last four games against them. Is this a sign of things to come Monday night?

"I thought the second half last year, they whipped our tails," he said. "They were tougher in the second half and we just kind of held on. We got very lucky that that one fumble was not called a fumble. The game really could have been a different outcome. But we did have a lot of guys hurt in that game, so I think that game is a washout.

"Two years ago, they had a lot of guys hurt also when they came up here, so I don't know if that's a fair comparison."

* Even though the secondary is very young, as is pretty much the entire defense, Koenning is still "confident" that he has the players to match up against Florida State and slow them down. While his unit is still learning new things, he likes the potential the ability this defense could have.

"You've got to be confident," he said. "There were some great analogies I heard recently, with one of them being: There were two farmers praying for rain, but only one of them really prepared his field for the rain to come and they got the rain.

"I think that's the way it works. You have to personally prepare your field to expect the rain. You can't have any doubt at all. And if you have doubt, then you're lessoning your opportunities for success.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I don't get overconfident. … But you've got to expect success and we really try to hammer home to our players to expect themselves and prepare themselves to be the best and don't be surprise if great things happen."

* Last season, Florida State didn't take advantage of the height advantage it had at wide receiver against the cornerbacks of the Tigers. This year, with Chris Chancellor getting the start at one cornerback spot, the differential is even greater as he is only 5-foot-8. Koenning said there isn't much a secondary can do to prevent the Seminoles throwing a lot of fade routes.

"You've got two choices really," he said. "You can try to help your corners or you can lock them up and blitz into a maximum protection and just hope that they don't call an interference. When you get into a fade contest, honestly as a db guy, there's four things that can happen and two of those things aren't very good: You can intercept it, or the ball can be incomplete or they can catch it or they call a foul.

"And in this day and age of college football, defensive backs are kind of like it is when you're married. Your wife can slap you around pretty good, but as soon as you even look at them sideways, they call the police and you're guilty. It's the truth and I don't think that's anything that's not politically correct. You've got to make sure you do everything just right. That's just the way it is. I'm not saying it's wrong, but it's just the way it is.

"You can't put an elbow into (the receiver), you can't brush off. We know we have to try and stay over the top."

* Koenning said that Crezdon Butler will start at one cornerback, but that it's too early to tell who will be the starters at middle linebacker and at bandit. Both positions are up for grabs. … Koenning said defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson and cornerback Haydrian Lewis have had very good fall camps.

* Monday's game will also have a game within the game as Koenning goes up against new Florida State offensive line coach Rick Trickett. The two worked together as assistant coaches at Memphis in the late 1980s and Koenning said there's no doubt that this year's offensive line for the Seminoles will have an edge to them.

"I've coached with Trickett and I know he's tough and hardnosed and I know they'll be hungry and aggressive or he'll head-butt them when they come to the sideline," Koenning said. "I've seen him do that with blood running down (his forehead and nose)."

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