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December 11, 2009

Defensive Coordinator Search: Intriguing Candidate

Here's a resume to consider. I'll tell you his name in a moment.

In 2008 his defense at a BCS school (pre-bowl before he left)
    -- Scoring Defense: 9th in NCAA
    -- Total Defense: 16th in NCAA
    -- Pass Defense: 12th in NCAA
    -- Pass Efficiency Defense: 11th in NCAA
    -- Rush Defense: 37th
    -- Sacks: 107th <-- only bad stat
    -- Tackles for Loss: 49th (which is impressive given the lack of sacks)
In 2009, he left that BCS school and moved to another BCS school where he completely revamped their Defense in one year.

In 2008 they team he inherited was 112th in the NCAA in Rush Defense. When he got there, they jumped to 16th in the nation in one season. Their scoring defense and total defense rankings jumped from 110th and 117th to 48th and 39th respectively. Pass defense went from 104th to 81st (which is still huge improvement given the other issues before he got there).

It's interesting that he achieved such a rapid jump in stats for his new school given that he had no prior familiarity with the BCS conference he faced.

He has been a defensive coordinator at BCS schools for the past five years. He also has experience recruiting in the region.

That's the type of resume you want. A proven guy that coaches his balls off and produces DRAMATIC improvements in yards and points allowed when he arrives. And a guy that has done it at multiple places.

In case you were wondering, that's Vic Koenning the current DC at Kansas State. He ran Clemson's defense from '05-'08. I've seen mentions from message boards that he runs a softer scheme. Maybe that's true, but defenses play pretty well when he's there.

Would I rather have Kirby Smart? Absolutely! But that's a serious resume.

BTW -- In case you're curious, his defense held Tech's triple option to 207 yards rushing on 52 carries while allowing only 14 offensive points. The glaring hole in his resume is the 66 points surrendered this year to Texas Tech. However, I would argue that if you're down 38-0 and then give up 28 more points, your issue is the prior coaching staff recruiting quitters. Not scheme.

Just for giggles...more on Koenning:
    2007 - Top 10 defense in scoring and total defense. Top 25 in most other big categories.
    2006 - #16 in scoring defense and #13 in total defense. #20 in sacks.
    2005 - #11 in scoring defense and #20 in total defense. Also #25 in sacks.
Just something to chew on.

See Also:
-- Clemson's Stats Pre-Bowl in 2008
-- KSU defensive stats in 2009



DCrisp said...

I have heard from the uga sports website that the DC will be announced this Wed and that it is either going to be Smart, Ellis Johnson or Koeinning. Any idea if this is valid?

Tcdevildawg said...

Come on Paul. That's the ACC they had some of the worst offenses in the NCAA last year.

JJ said...

I'd actually rather have Koenning than Kirby. But that's just me.

Crane said...

The fact he did it in a conference known for offense is impressive.

I think after we offer kirby and alabama matches our offer, and kirby stays, this is our guy.

Not sure people will like the style of defense however.

Chuck D said...

Dabo fired vic koenning because he didn't want someone who plays a bend but dont break defense. He wanted someone who was aggressive. If we hire Koenning we are getting the same thing we just had a very soft scheme.

Ryan said...

I really like the idea.

As I've been saying all along, Smart is only an at most 2 year guy. So if we do somehow back the dump truck up to his house, he's only a short hop to another job that will open up.

Koenning is a bit on the older side and would be much less likely to bolt after a 2-5 years.

Am I the only one who interpreted Richt's comments to mean that he wants someone in before the bowl?

Anonymous said...


Vic wasn't fired at Clemson. He quit and immediately went to KSU. Guys who are fired in coaching are generally not working for their new boss 3 business days later a the same level without a demotion.


SCdawg said...

ugasports said kirby was seen at the butts-mehre on friday. man i hope we get him.

a coordinator that has never had a shot as a head coach should only be at a big school like uga for 3-5 years. either they should be fired b/c they aren't good enough or get a head coaching job.

Reverend Whitewall said...

I live in Greenville, SC so am surrounded by the Clemson folks up here, as a result I watch the majority of their games. Last year, there was a huge difference in the way the defense played when Bowden was there vs. the second half of the year when Dabo was in charge. They were MUCH more aggressive under Dabo. All the rumblings I heard were that Koenning had run a softer scheme all that time more because it was what Bowden wanted, but when Dabo let him be more aggressive, he was. Supposedly the aggressive schemes we saw in the second half of 2008 were more indicative of what Koenning likes to do.

That being said, I did not watch a single Kansas State game this year, so I have no idea how aggressive or soft they were. Just going on what I saw during his time at Clemson. Plus, even if they were running softer schemes at KSU, it may have been a personnel issue. We didn't see BVG being overly aggressive early on with us either, until he was sure he had the personnel to do it, which was really in the second year forward. If you've got a bunch of guys who can't cover, you CANNOT run an aggressive scheme. But again, from what I saw at Clemson, if Koenning has the horses to pull it off, he will be aggressive.

Jason C said...

Out of curiosity, is Vic actually a candidate?

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

Didn't Nutt go from Ark to Ole Miss pretty fast? Did he quit or was he fired?

Juan Solo said...

I HATE this idea.

I want a young, enthusiastic coach who is aggresive and eager to TEACH these kids to play sound defense.

I couldnt care less about a "big name" guy. If we hire someone b/c of their name we are going to be in trouble. I want a guy out to prove something, not someone who thinks they have already proven it.

Kirby would be ideal b/c he comes from the Saban tree and I would love to run the 3-4. He also is going to want to prove that he can do it without Saban and he wont want to let down the dawg fans. But if that doesnt happen, I pray we dont get some old guy b/c he has name recognition.

I would love some no-name up-and-comer.

Go Dawgs.

Rorschach said...

When Alabama meets Texas in the BCS Title Game ... The heart of both teams will be from The University of Georgia ... Both Defensive Coordinators are Bulldawgs ... Will Muschamp from Rome, GA is the Head Coach-in-waiting at Texas while Kirby Smart is the 'Brains" of the nation's leading scoring defense from Alabama. All I got to say is "Congrats And Come Home Boyz!" Roll Tide!

The Watch Dawg said...

I don't see why some folks think Kirby Smart would be a 1-2 year hire, at best. He's only 33 years old, it's not as if he likely feels like his clock is ticking. And who knows, he may want to stick around until Richt retires so he gets to be the next UGA HC.

Anonymous said...

Watch Dawg,

If you have a national title on your resume, schools are hiring under 40. See Washington and Tennessee.

That's why I don't think he's leaving Bama before the end of the season. And I just doubt we're waiting that long to fill *any* of our slots.

The MNC game isn't until Jan. 7th. That's 4 more weeks!

Kirby is *extremely* upwardly mobile. He's not going to be a DC for life.

Sam, Dawg Fan said...

RE: smart being upwardly mobile.

I would be careful. You never know what might happen. Heck Charlie Strong's resume is 100x better than Smart's and he is just now getting the HC job. Some for other coordinators like Norm Chow.

Anonymous said...


Do you really think Kirby has the same demographic challenges to overcome as a 60+ year old Asian Morman or an African American in an interracial marriage?

Not that any of those things *should* be deciding factors on employment anywhere including college football.

Just saying.

The Watch Dawg said...

Well, it's a good point about Smart not being likely to leave before the national title game, but I'm not so sure that we haven't had talks with him already. It's known that he was at UGA with Mike Bobo this past Friday, and although it was supposedly a "friendly visit," who knows if any proposals were discussed?

That said, I'm not overly optimistic about landing Kirby. But I'm not convinced that getting him is not a possibility either. FWIW, I still expect the hire to come out of left field.

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