Tuesdays with Vic

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning talks about Saturday's matchup with the Duke Blue Devils.


Did you ever have a time when you didn't name a defensive player of the week?
Koenning: Not in recent memory. Didn't feel like anybody was special. None of our guys on the defensive staff pounded their hands on the table for anybody. I don't think they didn't play hard and watched the tape more than twice. I didn't see a bunch of loafs. We got exposed. Some positions got exposed. That was good coaching by them. They finally found it. I wasn't able to help them fast enough. When I did we just didn't make plays. Very very disappointing loss. I'm taking it extremely hard personally. I don't mean to be talking about "I" but I hope our players are resilient and that's probably the wrong word. Disappointed for Dabo who has worked so hard and he's done everything in his power to get these guys to do it. I'm disappointed for the players. They are trying to overcome a lot. Disappointed for the fans too. We just roll up our sleeves and try to go to work. That's all we need know how to do.

You get any feedback from the team?
Koenning: I know Coach Swinney has a senior meeting. I took 30 minutes in the DB room yesterday after they got out of special teams meetings. We just sat there and talked. Felt like this was more important than looking at tape. Why didn't we seem to have the electricity in the second half? I don't think they didn't give it everything they had. We just didn't do it right. We stood up. Or we didn't bend our knees. We just didn't make basic stuff. It wasn't an effort deal. They wanted it. Why? What do we need to do from here? I think a lot of coaches are really close to their players, like their own kids. Chris Chancellor brought in his baby the other day and said hey I just want to show him to his grandpa. That's the type of relationship you have with these guys. I thought that was more important at that point in time. I mean, that's not going to help us make tackles, or intercept balls or make plays but everybody is on the same page and that's the most important thing.

Where do you go from here?
Koenning: Well we are working as hard as we can to get ready for Duke. David Cutcliffe is one of the better offensive minds. Has been for a long time. Extremely hard to prepare for defensively. You have to keep in mind, when you do game plans the first thing you do is work on matchups- who do you need to protect? Who can make a play? Can we get pressure with four? Can we play man coverage. We've got some issues we have to continue to work out to give us a chance to be successful. Some games, like Wake Forest, Duke went through them like Florida State went through us in the fourth quarter. Some games they've done that. Some games where they haven't done that. You just try to figure out what you are going to see from them. Like Coach Spurrier, they have so many different packages they go to. Same thing with Florida State.

Can you talk about the Eron Riley-Thaddeus Lewis connection?
Koenning: Riley has been a good player. I remember before I came here, I was trying to get him to come to Troy. I knew he was a good player. I remember sitting in the library trying to talk him into coming to Troy- and he's like 'where is that?' He's a high academic kid. The quarterback makes reads perfectly. They know when blitzes are coming. That's really good coaching. We just put everything up on the table and - what can we do? What haven't we done? We are not going to be able to re-invent the wheel. Our guys struggle with any nuances. We'll try to do what we do and hopefully execute and our guys can win some 1-on-1 battles.

Any thing stick out when you watch his offense?
Koenning: I tell you what, the quarterback, his reads are impeccable. They have some routes, where they look at a side and they seen man coverage or zone coverage, etc. etc. and he knows exactly where to go. He knows if he feels pressure he's going here. They have five maybe six pass protections. They get five out in about three different ways. Their vertical passing game is there enough you have to honor it. Then you have the Wake Forest game where they have just two backs and they stuck it down their throat. I saw Wake Forest stone Florida State earlier in the season and now FSU is a lot better offensively but I saw Wake Forest stone us. What they did to Wake Forest with two backs is impressive. We have more than the utmost respect for the job they are doing.

How many sacks do your linebackers have?
Koenning: I don't know (1). We have had a lot of pressure we just haven't been able to finish. I think we have nine on the year (overall). There's a nine written up on the board in there in the defensive room. That's not very good. For when you are used to having the 30s and 40s, the last two years haven't been very good.

You talked about leadership during the preseason and you were concerned about it. Has that been as bad or worse of an issue than you anticipated?
Koenning: Worse. We talked about that yesterday in that little pow-wow. I was just listening. From a guy that took being captain of the first bowl game in school history where I went to college and took being captain being the most important honor I've ever had besides being a Christian, being a Dad, being a husband. Being a captain, being a leader is what some of us our here to do. I read that in the Bible every day. I pray instead of listening to the boys on the radio. I pray how can I do a better job of being a leader today to be the best I can for the players and the coaches. I think the thing that came out of our deal yesterday was we don't have an Anthony Waters. Well no joke. But maybe somebody can be stronger. There are some things we can do. But with three weeks to go it's probably a little late. I know Coach Swinney has established a leadership council and he's trying to do that from his end as hard as he can. I think that's something that's got to be thought of on recruiting probably. More than how many stars and how fast. What kind of leader is he. I know I haven't done as good of a job on that front. When you start walking, that's when you learn how nice it is to have vehicle. And that's one of the things we had to learn a hard lesson.

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