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 to discuss a variety of topics and offers insight as only he can.

Here are some of his thoughts leading up to Saturday's home game against Virginia Tech:

* The only area of the game that played with any consistency or had positive outcomes against Georgia Tech was the defense. While there are still two or three plays Koenning would like to have over, he said his unit played as hard as they've played all season.

In fact, he said of all the plays, there was only one "loaf" by a player and he qualified that by saying that he was being extremely picky because that single "loaf" was questionable. That's why he thinks this week's game is going to be difficult because of the disappointment endured by last week's loss.

"Our guys were excited to play last week, and they were fired up to play and it hurt them deeply to lose that game because there's a big, big animosity thing toward Georgia Tech," Koenning said. "We've got to kind of just cut that loose and move on to Virginia Tech. We have to kind of put it behind us and that's not always an easy thing. …

"We have to see what we're made of. We don't have the big leadership classes. We don't have seven seniors on defense like I know that Georgia Tech had. We don't have a big senior nucleus so it's got to come from the junior classes and the underclassmen."

* Virginia Tech running back Branden Ore rolled up a lot of rushing yards last year against Clemson, though not that it mattered much anyway because the Tigers offense couldn't too much of anything when it had the ball. But Koenning said stopping Ore, who has had a bad season so far, will be priority No. 1.

"The first thing we've got to do is we've got to stop the run, which is something that we always try to do," he said. "And then be sound against their other stuff. And then play pass coverage based on down and distance situation. When it becomes more of a pass situation for them, then we'll try and help our guys out by giving them a call that's more conducive to stopping the pass.

"I don't know that I want to reveal whether we're going to try and spin (the quarterback) out or contain him or any of that other stuff. I think that would be counterproductive."

* With the loss of cornerback Haydrian Lewis for the season, true freshman Marcus Gilchrist is now a second-team cornerback, backing up Chris Chancellor. Koenning understands that the most experienced person on the depth chart at cornerback is Chancellor, a redshirt sophomore, and that there's going to be some growing pains. But he added that Gilchrist is going to have to play like a veteran.

"There isn't anybody else back there, so yeah, it's Marcus (that has to play," Koenning said. "He's going to have to step up and play. There's not going to be any hesitation to put him in. Let's go play. … He is everything we thought and he's a tremendous young man, and he's strong for his age. But he doesn't have a choice (but to step up), to be honest with you."

* Koenning said Gilchrist and everybody else on the defense would be well served to play like junior safety Michael Hamlin did against Georgia Tech. Koenning cited one play in particular when with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, Hamlin dove over a few players laying on the ground and helped tackle tailback Tashard Choice.

"I'm happy with the way he's playing," Koenning said. "He had one particular play in the game where we used it to (show) the team that this is how you're supposed to play, where he basically had a cape on his back and an ‘S' on his chest. He just flew through the air (to make a tackle) and that's what we've got to do.

"We've still got to get these guys playing at a pace that I think we can get to. Whether you can do that every week, I think that's probably asking a lot. But we've just got to continue to push them to play at a higher speed."

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