Here are some of his thoughts leading up to Saturday's game against Wake Forest:
* Clemson enters this week's game sporting one of the top five defenses in the nation in terms of yards allowed. However, Koenning isn't buying into to all that statistical mumbo-jumbo just yet. He remembers what started to happen about this same time last year.
"I haven't really thought about that," Koenning said. "Somebody told me we were, but like I told that guy that told me that, that and 75 cents will get you a cup of coffee at Ma's Grocery up the road. If we're in the top 10 at the end of the season, then (that will be special).
"We were here last year. We were probably eighth or something at this juncture last year, and did not finish as well as we would have liked."
* The Tigers stand with the exact same record they did a year ago, but head coach Tommy Bowden has constantly stated that he believes this team is better prepared for the stretch run, particularly the offense. Koenning isn't so sure about the defense.
"That's a really good question," he said when asked if the defense is better prepared this year for the final games. "I don't really know the answer to it. I don't know if we are better prepared. I would hope that we don't have the same results that we did, particularly the last game. … The South Carolina game is the one that really threw me for a loop."
* Koenning said that while his defense is ranked highly, he's still looking for its first complete game out of the unit. He said every week there's something that goes wrong, usually early, before his players start to play they way they're supposed to. He used the long pass that was mistimed by Crezdon Butler's and set up Duke's only touchdown.
"Obviously he's never played baseball because he looked like that outfielder that runs in and all of a sudden the ball goes over his head," Koenning said. "I don't think we've played anywhere near what we're capable of at a lot of positions. And I don't think any of our coaches would say that, too. I think the closest game would be Virginia Tech."
* Following the Duke game, Bowden said that he was going to have to get used to not getting much pressure on the quarterback because it's not going to happen. The Tigers still need a few more sacks to ensure this team doesn't hold the distinction of having the fewest sacks ever for a Clemson team since the statistic started being kept in 1979. Koenning said he's not resigned to the fact that they won't get pressure.
"No, (I'm resigned to that)," he said. "We are what we are. We'll continue to try and get better. Honestly, when you throw the ball on time, it's going to be tough (to get sacks). … If you start focusing in more on trying to do that then you'll end up creating other issues down the road that you. Don't worry about that ugly dog."
* Coaches around the ACC have long complained about the blocking tactics employed by the Wake Forest offensive line, which loves to go after knees and ankles in chop blocks. Koenning said there will be likely tons of holding not being called and dives at his players' legs, but that even with all that, the Tigers can't worry about it.
"(They may not be cut-blocking) to the point that they once were," Koenning said. "I remember when they first got here (they were bad). They get called on chop-blocks, but they probably have the theory there that (the refs) are only going to call two or maybe three holding calls a game, so just do it and don't worry about it.
"We're going to have to do a great job of getting separation because (offensive linemen) hands outside, or hands around legs or hands grabbing, that's a non deal. We need to plan on the game being like it is in practice and move on and don't worry about it.
"You start worrying about (protecting your legs), then that's what they want. The biggest thing that the do as far as their line, to be honest with you, is what their center does, with his constant movement and jacking around and arms pointing and moving and distracting and him barking signals. It's obvious. You can sit there and watch his head (go up-and-down). You know what he's doing. And everybody that they've played has said you've got to watch this guy. So, we're practicing that the best we can."
Tuesdays with Vic
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