Tuesdays with Vic

CLEMSON - Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning talks about facing the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Can you talk about the matchups for your defense- especially against Jared Cook.
Koenning: That's the one thing they are all talented- they have done a great job recruiting. Even Kenny McKinley. They'll move those guys around and create mismatches. Coach Spurrier has a lot of offense. They have 57-something different formations. It's mind boggling and when you have to try and match everybody up. If you try to match personnel then you get into substitution games. You know, the next thing you know you are back where you were a few years ago and they are running tosses around the edge on us and we have too many DBs. We'll try and do the best we can and try and go play.

Can you classify Cook as a tight end?
Koenning: Some people classify him as a freak mode. He can run. He's big and he's tall. And he has been. Even McKinley ate us up last year and we had double coverage on the guy. They are a good football team.

Do you put much stock in Spurrier saying Smelley is the quarterback?
Koenning: Coach Spurrier has obviously had a lot of success doing it the way he does it. We are going to know who gets behind center when the game gets here. We have to try and prepare for all things and try not to get caught up in that too much.

What do you think about Chris Clemons this week?
Koenning: That's all speculative. I wish we knew. A thing about a defensive back that's not close to 100 percent ... you don't want to hide the guy. So if he's not at 100 percent or close to it, then it's not going to be fair to him. I'm assuming it's going to be a game time decision at best. I know he's hurt and I feel bad for him and he's very upset about it. He's been a war-daddy for us. I gave him a big old hug after the game and told him you are going to have a lot more football games in your career and just try and deal with

Would Sadat be there behind Clemons?
Koenning: Yes he's played with the two's all year. Sadat is doing an admirable job. He's doing a good job.

How much do you lose with Ricky not in there?
Koenning: Obviously he's one of your better players. We haven't had the production out of that position that we would have liked. Whatever we are ranked in pass defense basically without getting a pass rush. Ricky hasn't had the stats he would like to have, but all that being said, he's a guy that you have to account for and I don't know if the other guys are at that point yet.

What is the feeling on your defense after the past two games?
Koenning: I'm very proud of the guys. There has really only been about two and a half quarters this season where we didn't play really well when you start looking at it. We've been put in situations, backed up, ball at the seven, it doesn't matter, we've risen to the occasion. I can't remember being more proud of the group than I was the other day, especially with the injuries. Was happy for them against a team that was throwing the ball very well and having success and we came in and stopped them.

Their offensive line has had issues this year. Do you see opportunities there?
Koenning: South Carolina's tradition in the last few years is that early in the year they are mixing and matching offensive linemen and by the middle of the year they start gelling and by the end of the year they turn out to be pretty good. We aren't anticipating any matchup advantages there.

Can you talk about Da'Quan Bowers and his improvement as of late?
Koenning: Well, again, I've said many times I'm proud of the way he's taking coaching. He has not been an enigma where you can't tell him what to do. He's very coachable. There are times when he doesn't do the right thing and it has heard us. The same thing could be said for a lot of guys. He's at a position where if you don't put your eyes where you are supposed to, or you don't contain, or supposed to dig it out if you are supposed to dig it out. Then that can cause some issues because he's on the edge there. He's a great young man and love being around him everyday.

How difficult is this right now to keep players' focus given some of the uncertainty with the coaching staff, etc.?
Koenning: Some of the uncertainty? I've been kind of trying to smell the roses here for several weeks now regarding Clemson the last couple of weeks. This is a fantastic place. The Lord has truly blessed our family for bringing us here. My kids love it here. We love it here. The Tiger Walk thing, is just another example of how great the fans are and going to away games to see how the fans travel. It's a fantastic place that anybody would want to stay here as long as they could. ... I can tell you every ounce of my effort has been trying to beat Florida State, Duke, Virginia and this week trying to slow down South Carolina a little bit.

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