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 to discuss a variety of topics and offers insight as only he can.
Here are some of his thoughts leading up to Saturday's game at Georgia Tech:
* Despite N.C. State only getting just barely 200 yards of total offense, Koenning says there were still plenty of instances in which his defense didn't perform well. And there's on particular aspect he expects to see Georgia Tech employee as a result.
"We played OK. We can play better," he said. "That one drive (that they scored the touchdown), they ran a corner route and we didn't get underneath and that should have been a routine pick. We see that all the time. Then we busted a coverage and gave them a long pass and they kind of got going a little bit. Then we got guys that couldn't get lined up and they got a little tired. There were some things that were a little unnerving.
"They started tempoing us a little big and I expect Georgia Tech to try and do that. They've done that a couple of times in games. We try to turnover as many stones as we can and they've shown that if they have a successful play, they'll hurry up and get to the line and go. … There's some things we can coach up. We were not anywhere near as good as we can be and what we're going to need to be."
* Georgia Tech star running back Tashard Choice has a bad hamstring and it appears there could be a realistic chance of him not playing much, if at all. However, Koenning isn't buying the noise coming out of Atlanta.
"Rendrick Taylor has had a hamstring injury every week and he's played in almost every game," Koenning said. "We're preparing for (Choice) to be full speed. They've got a medical school down there. They've got smart doctors. They'll figure something out."
* Even without star receiver Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech is still a pass-happy team. Quarterback Taylor Bennett has thrown 79 passes over the last two games. And even though Johnson's no longer on catching the passes, Bennett will still throw it into coverage.
"The thing that is disconcerting for me is it doesn't matter if a guy is covered or not, that ball's up (in the air)," Koenning said. "Then it becomes a question of if you make the plays or not make the plays. You can't double everybody all the time. We're going to have guys make some plays. We're going to have to have guys make some one-on-one plays."
* Despite the fact that the Tigers have only faced one team with any semblance of an average quarterback, Koenning said his secondary gets a ton of good work by going against Cullen Harper everyday in practice. But Koenning admitted that he's not quite sure what he has with that group just yet.
"I don't know if we're good or great or whatever," he said. "I just think we're trying to do the best we can and get better. I know we don't have very much depth at safety. When the twos have been in this year, we haven't functioned as well as we need to.
"The ones didn't hardly get any reps (Monday) night. I've taken one day every week and taken the ones and said, ya'll watch and learn in trying to get some depth built up. And that's something that you really don't like to do during the season, but it's something I feel like I've got to do. It's my responsibility and I don't know what else to do."
* Each and every week, there seems to be criticism from fans that think they know what's going on with the defense and the schemes that are being used, but in reality they don't have much of an understanding. One of the criticisms about Koenning is the perception that he doesn't blitz his linebacker enough, when in fact he blitzed roughly 40 percent of the plays last year.
"If you can't cover the hot routes, it doesn't matter how many people you blitz," he said. "Of if they throw the three-step pass, you could bring nine and you're not going to get there. You've got to be smart about all that. Blitzing is not a Panacea. I've told my dad that and I don't think he knows what that word Panacea means. It's not the answer for all causes. But everybody thinks that is the answer and it's not.
"You've got to do it when they don't expect it. You've got to do it when it works. Last week, (N.C. State) had a tendency to run bootlegs on first-and-10 to the quarterback's right hand. We brought a corner blitz from the field (side) twice and once it was a boot and he had to throw it early and the second time it was a run, so we guessed wrong. We were 50-50 when we did that. You just do the best you can and try to make good decisions, but not everything works every time."
* Koenning said one part of the Georgia Tech offense that doesn't receive the attention that it should is its offensive line. He believes the line is better than last year. But Koenning added a qualifier as to why it's better and he's not happy about it.
"Their offensive line is probably as much improved as any part of their football team," Koenning said. "I'm concerned because it's chop-block central. We could probably learn to tackle from some of those guys. They're doing differently on the offensive line than they've done with the way that they're blocking. It's a concern."
Tuesdays with Vic
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