Throughout the season, defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has made changes with the Clemson defense on and off the field. Everything has been part of Koenning’s quest to get his defense where he wants it to be.
Following the Texas A&M game, roughly two defensive players showed up for voluntary film review on Sunday. After a team meeting, every member of the defense was present on the Sunday after Maryland. It was a move Koenning stated allowed the defense to be a day ahead in practice.
The last two games Koenning and the rest of the defensive coaching staff have been sending a message about practice. The message has been sent clearly to Duane Coleman and Rashaad Jackson
“Coach Hobby didn’t feel like he (Jackson) had a good week of practice for whatever reason that he needs him to have, so that is why he was limited. Coach Hobby didn’t feel he earned it in practice. The same reason Duane Coleman didn’t get many reps against Wake Forest even though Sergio (Gilliam) made a critical mistake. If you set a precedent, by not making practice important, then you will get guys who don’t practice hard and just so up for games. We are trying to make sure preparation, planning, and doing things right all the time is the precedent,” said Koenning.
For Coleman, Koenning says Coleman is constantly on him about PT (playing time).
“Duane made a play on a screen, and it was a fantastic play. He has gotten better and is trying to do the things to get better. He is constantly on my tail about playing time. He is all the time on me about P.T., P.T., P.T.,” said Koenning.
The Tigers most recent effort was their best of the season. Koenning’s defense held NC State to 10 points in the Tigers 31-10 victory. It was not the perfect performance, but a performance that gives Koenning confidence the defense is headed in the right direction.
“Coming off a win, you feel better. We can play, and we can play a lot better than that. We pointed out some of the mistakes our guys made. We could have very easily had two more sacks in the game. The one touchdown run should have been stopped for a loss.”
Koenning said his defense is beginning to understand the “why” of his scheme, and it is starting to pay off.
“They are starting to understand the why. Here is why we are doing this. Early in the year, I think we had a bad approach to it, and I’ll take the blame for it. Everybody was trying to memorize everything. You get caught in this memorization thing. When you are trying to remember things, you are going to make mistakes. Fundamentally, if we don’t do fundamentals everyday, we back up. I think that’s a sign of a young team. You have a Charles Bennett, Tye Hill, Jamaal Fudge, and Anthony Waters, and they don’t need the fundamentals the other guys need. We got to continue to focus on the fundamentals, because that will break everything else down,” said Koenning.