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 game at South Carolina:

* Last year's game against South Carolina isn't one that Koenning will put on his resume as the Gamecocks piled up 492 yards of total offense. The Tigers entered the game leading the nation in allowing the fewest yards per play. This season, Clemson enters with the nation's sixth-best overall defense.

"I hoped we're better equipped (this year)," Koenning said. "I guess time will tell. We've watched that games several times to see what we would have done differently. They kind of had their way. They ran it and ran through arm tackles and they threw it and guys tended to be open. We did make a few players here and there. They ran their stuff and executed it well and we got knocked out of gaps and wasted ourselves on pass rush and dropped two picks on drives that they scored on.

"I guess time will tell because we're different, but we're the same. We're different in some of our personnel, but we're the same in this is who we are. We've got to obviously have an answer to what they're trying to do. Obviously we're going to try, but time's going to tell whether or not we can stop them. Like always, they tend to get going pretty good on offense."

* One thing that makes South Carolina difficult to prepare for is that defenses don't know which Gamecocks offense they're going to see. Are they going to see the South Carolina offense with a very good Blake Mitchell at quarterback, who throws it all over the field, or are they going to see the bad Mitchell, which means the Gamecocks will prone to run it more and use a bunch of short passes?

"I hope he's not as good as he was last year against us because he was unconscious," Koenning said. "When we covered everybody, he took off and ran 12 or 15 yards because we couldn't catch him."

* Having time to reflect on last year's game from a distance, Koenning noticed some aspects about his defense and the team that wasn't right from a mental standpoint. The Tigers entered the game in the same circumstance to this season, coming off a last-second loss where the division title was taken away. Koenning is hoping the mindset for Clemson will be better than last year.

"As I recall last year's demeanor and last year's mode, it wasn't an easy thing to do to kind of get them inspired and it obviously hurt us," he said. "We didn't play as inspired as we needed to. If we don't go down there with a major league inspired attitude, for lack of a better word; if we don't go down there ready to play, we're going to get embarrassed. I think our guys know that.

"Coach Bowden did a really tremendous job with that (Monday night) and I really spelled it out for them. I thought he did as good of a job as I could imagine anybody doing with the team yesterday to try and get them headed in the right direction."

* Koenning admitted that he had a total miscalculation last year in regards to the South Carolina offensive line, which started the 2006 season as downright awful and got progressively better as the season wore on. Rest assured he won't make that same mistake twice.

"I made a grave mistake in thinking that we could win one-on-ones up front," he said. "I think their offensive tackle last year was the offensive lineman of the week in the SEC. … I messed up last year thinking there were situations that we were going to win and they whipped our tail."

* Koenning said the South Carolina's offense has really found its groove the last few games and put up some big numbers. He said he hoping that some outside force will help slow the Gamecocks down.

"I know I'm worried about what they're doing right now," Koenning said. "I'm hoping that they have a big, ol' party down in Five Points Thursday night and a couple of guys break some rules and get suspended, but I doubt that will happen. But I can always hope for it."

It's not clear whether he doubted that the players would break the rules or if they would actually get suspended if rules were broken. You could probably take your pick.

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