Cleat Geeks

Interview with Troy Trojans DC Vic Koenning leading to the 2017 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

As the Troy Trojans (10-2) and the North Texas Mean Green (9-4) prepare to face each other in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, I had a chance to talk to the Troy Trojans Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning about this season and this match-up.

What do you feel has contributed the most success to your defense this season?

“I think it’s a combination. We’ve got some depth on our d-line. So, we’ve been able to keep guys fresh and by keeping them fresh on the front, it’s enabled guys to stay healthy and obviously play faster. You know the health issue is a real deal, we’ve been able to stay healthy this year and that’s kind of a crapshoot from year-to-year. Then I think that the addition to the six Freshman we’ve played every week on defense has also helped us, it’s enabled guys not play on every special team and on every snap on defense like we’ve had kind of had to do the last two years. So, it’s the influx of new talent and guys good enough to play as a freshman has really helped the whole picture. I think it’s a combination of a bunch of stuff.”


You guys lose 2016 Sun Belt Defensive player of the year in Rashad Dillard and you guys are tied for 14th in the nation in sacks with 36. Do you think that says more about your players stepping up and feeling in or your defense system or do you think it’s a little bit of both?Image result for rashad dillard troy

“The Pride part of me wants to say it’s a little bit of both. Always, I’ve said kind words about our players. I know we had two years ago where we had Roberts who probably should have been Sun Belt Defensive player of the year, last year Rashad was. Then we have at the same position Hunter Reese, he was a walk-on, then he was a backup then he got an opportunity to play, then got first-team all-conference. I think it’s somewhat the nature of that position and what we want out of that position in what we call it a bandit. There have been about seven or eight Bandits playing this game that have or are playing in the league, it’s some of both. I do know our guys play hard I do know if one position isn’t strong as another then teams are going to take advantage of it. So, you kind of have to be like the fence you got to be strong all the way across the fence are you going to lose what’s in it, so we have to kind of as a group play together. If you’re not good at stopping the pass or running or stopping the run you have to do a little bit of everything two to have a success.”


What do you feel are some of the main attributes that gave you guys the win over number 25 LSU?

“I say they probably did not respect us.They did not play at the level that they played after our game, I think we probably got their attention little bit. I’m sure it was hard to coach them that week. You know because they’re saying it’s just Troy, there’s always some of that going into it. We’ve had issues of that this year ourselves. I think that we’ve had a really good plan. I think that their ability to run the football and our ability to stop the run was a surprise for them and I think our guys played extremely hard. The team that played the hardest won the game. So, it’s probably a combination all those three things.”


What did you guys learn about your defense after the game against South Alabama?

“Well, we played a pretty good defensive game. I don’t know if they had 275 yards, I don’t know the exact stat. They had three plays where they got over half their yards on 3 screen passes. We obviously did well cover-wise which lends itself so if we don’t have one guy who can do a good job on-screen passes. They ran the ball and they didn’t throw the ball well except for those three-screen passes. Defensively against South, we did okay, so happens, their defense outplayed our defense. It was a hard-fought game, we didn’t play well on any phase against them. A fumble and a couple of punts which gave them immediate fill position and possession, that was what happened it was their defense that played great and they had some turnovers.”

Image result for vic koenning troy

Your defense will be playing a top 20 scoring team. 18 in total offense a quarterback that’s ranked 9th in total passing yards and a 1000-yard rusher. What do you feel is the key to not really stopping North Texas but really slowing him down?

“Well, I don’t know if we’ll be fully able to but we’re going to have to get takeaways. You know their quarterback finds a way, I think he’s very much Russell Wilson-ish. I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff and the plays from the run. They’re getting their Rusher back so there’s the other 1200-yard back. We’re going out to play unconscious, we’re going to swarm to the ball and make tackles and make takeaways. We’re going to have to force them to drive the length of the field and not give up big plays, which we’ve done a good job all year. As soon as you say something like that it goes against you. We got some young guys that are going to play, we are down two DB’s and down to our starting four, some young guys have to step up and play and play better than the way we played in the first quarter against Arkansas State.”


Do you feel this Mean Green offense is the best offensive unit you have played all season?

“I think they’re very topical to Arkansas State in a lot of their stats. There’s one of the best, it wouldn’t surprise me if they are. It’s going to be really a challenge for us. It’s really going to be an unbelievable precursor for us going to next year. With us playing so many young guys, it’s going to give our guys opportunity to see what we got. I know they are extremely well coached, they may be as well coach has any team we have played. I know we’re just going to have to play our best football to give us our chance to win.”


Your defense ranks 5th in tackles for loss per game while North Texas has given up the 14th highest allowed sacks this season. Do you feel you have an edge in the trenches with your D-Line?

“Well if we have any advantage at all, it’s going to be that. Our D-Line is going to have to pressure. We’ve kind of combined a bunch of things we’ve learned throughout the year, so the game plan is to work to what sinks in the best. We, first of all, have got to stop the run because their ability to run the football probably scares me more than anything and then we’ll know they’ll pass. when they do throw the ball, we’re going to get pressure on the quarterback and not so much in but to Image result for marcus jones troykeep them from throwing the football.”


What’s one match-up in this game that you are most excited for, individualized or GroupWise?

“Well like I said we are playing some guys like Marcus Jones is going to be starting at corner, Dunlap is going to play a lot of Corner. Ardarius Wesley is going to play or start at safety. So, we’ve got some new guys filling rules that they haven’t had all year. We’re going to see what they’ve got which is don’t you leave into next year. That’s what your kind of use bowls for, gives them an extra spring practice. With these bowls around the 16th, you haven’t had that many practice opportunities. So we haven’t had that much but we’re going to give these guys games reps because they’re guys that are going to have be big players for us next year.”


Do you think this game feels like a home game being around the Gulf Coast or if you think it’s the opposite?

“We are going to be the home team and we are going to be wearing gray. I would imagine are Troy fans will come out here. They travel great. I will be surprised if we will not have more Troy Fans in attendance. We’ve been on the road so many games this year and we feel that we’ve had as many Trojan fans then the other team did. We may not be our home team we are going to have to do that this weekend.”


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