Tuesdays with Vic

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning talks about Saturday's game against N.C. State.

South Carolina had to go back to high school film to watch Russell Wilson. Have you had to go to that extremre?
Koenning: Well we watched the South Carolina game. He was in there for a quarter or something. We've played athletic quarterbacks and he is that. They are what they are. I think that's, what's the word? That's what everybody wants right now is an athletic quarterback because they can make things happen and you can recruit those guys more readily. So that's what they decided to go with.

You like to change coverages and you mentioned after the game having to go back to the underneath coverages because the man wasn't working. What do you do now with that? Re-emphasize things that didn't take with your man-coverage?
Koenning: When you watch the tape, that was a weird game because they actually averaged 5.4 plays per possession. So there wasn't a bunch of big drives. It was just big plays which we aren't used to giving up. Even against Alabama we gave up big long drives, but not big plays. You just go back and critique each one of those plays and see what happened. The first one we had some good inside leverage and when we got at the same level they kind of rubbed us off and then we kind of froze a little bit and in the scheme of the defense was for the MIKE to hold up and help with the under and for a d-end to take the back out. We didn't take the back out and the MIKE then took the back and we vacated the middle. The second long one, Chris Clemons just didn't get out and go to the post. Mike [Hamlin] was expecting him to have a post player and he played outside leverage and the guy getting hit threw it up to a spot and we looked like were running in mud and we didn't get back there. The third long one, the boundary throw back. We worked on that play we just didn't recognize it. It's been since Texas A&M since we've seen that play. The other one DeAndre tried to go under and tried to the ball. When you do that and don't get the ball, we were trying to double No. 5 instead of just playing the middle. But DeAndre needs to play over the top shoulder and he was in position and he was trying to make it and he couldn't do it. That's something they probably heard in practice 10 times a day. If you go under, you have to make the play or don't go under. And then Sadat [Chambers] and Coty [Sensabaugh], kind of got in the wrong deal on the last one. That tends to happen when you play a lot of guys for the first time. Happened against La. Monroe last year.

What is it going to take for your defense to get more pressure on the quarterback?
Koenning: I don't know lets see if you can get in a three-point stance and fire off the ball. Right now we are trying to find some guys who can do that. We brought six and he catches the ball and throws it. When they spread the field on you you can't bring more than that. Haydrian [Lewis] made a nice tackle over there on 3rd-and-4 to stop them on one of the first drives. But they would get the ball and get it out. First play of the game we were bringing more than they had to protect and they were getting the ball out. If you can't get pressure with four, then you are really putting yourself in a bind against teams like that that are going to spread the field on you.

A couple of guys yesterday were saying Da'Quan Bowers was running with the first team. At this point has he earned that starting spot?
Koenning: Y'all have better contacts than ... He's a guy that is being productive and with the uncertainty with Ricky [Sapp] we want to put our best players on the field and whether or not they do anything or not. That's nothing different. He's worked with the first team multiple times before. Coach West, we heard him say in the game the other day, 'we need him at bandit.' And I said quit lobbying because it ain't happening. I'd like to have C.J. Spiller in the secondary too. We are just trying to find the best player.

Has Da'Quan done anything more to be more productive?
Koenning: I've said this before. I'm really proud of his work ethic and the fact that he's taking coaching and hasn't been a prima donna and hasn't been a guy that thinks he's arrived and has been hungry and eager. As long as he does all those things, I'm confident this staff will do what it's done for a lot of other guys and set them on the pace to be a great player and have a bright future or whatever he wants to do."

What has it meant to not have Ricky Sapp on defense for the most part of two games now?
Koenning: Huge. Huge Huge. You can't even imagine. The way Alabama was blocking their running plays. When he got hurt he made the tackle over at the line of scrimmage. Unless they were going to change, they weren't going to block him. He was going to run the little zones and leads down on the other side. They were double-teaming up and gapping a rugby scrum, and he would have come off the edge. It would have been a colossal difference in that game, and getting pass pressure and this and that. It's why he didn't go much in the last two scrimmages because right now, although the other guys are getting better every day, there's still a pretty good separation.

Your thoughts on Brandon Thompson in his first game?
Koenning: He's a load, now. He did a really good job. He played with a lot of emotion. He played hard. That's why he was so hard to get in recruiting. It's pretty obvious to see he's very physical. And I actually heard him say a few words yesterday. He's starting to kind of talk, and he's really a fine young man to be around every day, and he's been practicing really hard. He gives us something that some of those other guys didn't give. Especially against a team that wants to pound you a little bit.

What are your thoughts on N.C. State's offensive line?
Koenning: They have a colossal offensive line. There's a lot of juniors and seniors and guys that have been in ACC games for a bunch of years. And they've got some numbers to deal with in there that aren't freshmen and redshirt freshmen. They've got juniors and seniors spread out across their two-deep on the offensive line, and they are large to say the least. If you watched the Alabama game, I'd say that's what you do. You get shoe-to-shoe and run a zone play until the guy falls down and trips over somebody.

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