Tuesdays with Vic

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning assesses the damage after Saturday's loss to Alabama.

When you look back at how you prepared for the Alabama game, do you think now you would do anything different?
Koenning: Not too much. I would have tried to approach how we teach tackling different. I think they had 54 running plays and as a defensive staff we thought 51 we made initial contact was made within a yard of the line of scrimmage. We had guys there. A big part of it was we didn't get more than one guy there because of the way they were double-teaming the linemen. But it was tough on those guys trying to flow when you've got a defensive lineman coming at them in your face. They had a better offensive line ... we knew they were good but they were better than we thought. I take responsibility on trying to teach tackling and we did not do a good enough job of limiting yards after contact. That was critical. It was three or four yards everytime. That was 99.9 percent of it. We only saw one play we didn't practice multiple times. That was the play-action where they delayed block with the tight end and he came back across. That was the only play we hadn't seen a bunch.

How many missed tackles did you have?
Koenning: We could have calculated it. I didn't sit there and count, but it was enough. Too many. More than normal, yes. What happens, a missed tackle isn't necessarily... that's when you miss and we had a fair share of those. But when a guy drags you four yards and then he goes down. It was 3rd and 1, 3rd and 1.5, 3rd and 2. The offense is going to get 75 to 80 percent of those. That's what it was like all night. That's why they had those drives. We've got to find out a way to do a better job of getting our power base behind us and not lunging.

What was the most disappointing aspect of Saturday night outside of losing? The tackling?
Koenning: Yes. The fact that we were there. We had opportunities. We split some of those plays we actually had guys in the backfield and they couldn't seem to make the play. There were two or three plays where they went quads unbalanced and we didn't get kicked over. And we worked at it. It got to the point in preparation where it became really monotonous. Because we kept working at it working at it. If you are supposed to line up on No. 2 and you lineup inside No. 4. You hate to do that in games. But those are concentration issues. I was disappointed in goal line pass coverage in one guy. Busted twice down there. That was stuff we practiced a countless number of times. Secondary got hung out to drive. We blitzed 28 of 84 plays and 18 of those were all out, which I haven't done here. But I had to do something to try and get pass pressure after Ricky got hurt and to try and do something to try and make a play. Maybe the ball would come out or something. I hated to have to do that ... so.

Tommy mentioned personnel moves ... when Ricky wasn't in there with your pass rush.
Koenning: Again that is stuff Coach Bowden is going to address with us. We do need to figure out a way to get some pass rush. We had six block six a bunch of times. And then we had guys wide open on 3rd-and-4 and just missed a tackle. We just have to get better.

Have you had the feeling you had Saturday night since you've been here of not being able to stop an offense since the 2006 South Carolina game?
Koenning: Yeah. Maybe Auburn a little bit in the bowl game. We got a lot of work at what we call sudden change, where they come in and if they get one field goal it's a field goal. It's a mindset. We've got to work on that during the game. We've got to find a way to get three and off and not give up a field goal. It's a good thing we held them to a field goal early or would have really gotten ugly.

There's been a question of this team not being tough and physical. Tommy said that's never been an issue since you've been here. Do you feel like you should hit more during preseason?
Koenning: They kicked our tail. [But] That's not my call. I think Coach Bowden is as good as any head coach in America as far as taking recommendations. You can check our practice schedule. We practice scheduling. It's eight to 10 minutes per day at each position during practice. Every practice. But the amount of scrimmaging and the amount of all of that stuff we do every day we do what we can. But as a head coach if you do that all the time you get diminishing returns. Jacoby Ford gets hurt. C.J. Spiller get hurts. Aaron Kelly gets hurt. You don't want to do that either.

Tommy used the word viciousness in describing Alabama's attitude.
Koenning: They played with momentum. I mean, we've all been around football long enough. We didn't get any momentum and we didn't create momentum. At one time we had 3rd-and-6 and then we have a pass interference penalty which instead of a three and out, gave them a first down when the guy threw it in the dirt. We had just three and outed them before. So that was a change in momentum. They started the game by kicking a 54-yard field goal. After a while, we didn't create anything to change the momentum. Then they gained the momentum. They got shoe to shoe and didn't even block the end at the line of scrimmage and knowing that they were going to wedge it and rugby scrum out knowing they were going to get four yards. So it was four yards, four yards, four yards. We put everybody we had into it, we blitzed into it. And couldn't break the rugby scrum. We got to work on pad level and we have to tackle better.

From an assignment standpoint, what did you think about the performance of the linebackers?
Koenning: Honestly better. Better than what it could have been. The inside linebackers for the most part were in the neighborhood. There was one time we didn't hug the back and probably would have had an easy sack. But I mean, should have. For the most part we've got some work to do. I thought the SAMs, one of them in particular, had some issues but we'll get better.

Can you assess what you saw of Da'Quan Bowers in his first game?
Koenning: He was a bright spot in pass rush. If we could have done a better job in coverage on a couple of passes I think he could have gotten there. There was one play where we didn't hold the curl and we jumped the back on the flare ... which is mind boggling. We've told the guy not to jump a no yard route we've got the speed to get there.

What about Brandon Maye?
Koenning: He did a good job. Because of the issues with him not being able to work on his legs because of the injury he tends to play a little high when he gets fatigued. He ran behind a couple of plays. He's got some ability. He's going to be fine. You start looking at some of the guys we are playing with, Kourtnei Brown, Andre Branch, Jarvis Jenkins and we are going, 'we got to grow up pretty fast.'

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