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DC Vic Koenning Sees Some Good, Some Bad in Season Opener



Photo by Jonathan Stanley

The 2019 season opener had its ups and downs and overall many inconsistencies, that is to be expected especially with a new coaching staff and a young group.

The Mountaineer defense allowed 328 yards on the day to James Madison, which isn’t all that bad,  but they lacked energy at times as defensive coordinator Vic Koenning explains, “I thought the guys played pretty hard for the most part, we had three loafs. We weren’t electric. I think effort was not great, but was okay. I thought we tackled poorly. We didn’t run our feet as well as we needed to and some of our angles weren’t as crisp as they needed to be early on, but we got our feel later on.”

There’s certainly always room from improvement and with Missouri’s talented offense there could be more growing pains this weekend in Columbia. “I look back as far as I can really remember, Missouri’s offense has been dynamic, it’s been tempo, they’ve been one of the progressive teams in the spread. It’s going to be a great test for us to see where we’re at,” Koenning said. He also mentioned that James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci had a lot of success running the ball and it surprised him how often he tucked it, “It fooled me. He did a great job, he made some really good throws, so it was a challenge against those guys for sure,” Koenning stated.

It will be interesting to see how the defense tries to slow down the potent Tiger offense. The offense they will see this week is going to be very similar to what they will see once they hit Big 12 play. Keeping an eye on quarterback Kelly Bryant in the run game is going to be a factor, but you also can’t underestimate his ability to throw the ball. Last week, Bryant thew for over 420 yards and two touchdowns. If he has similar success running the ball that DiNucci had a week ago, it could be a long game for the Mountaineers.

Koenning also did point out some of the good that he saw in the opener and mentioned how pleasantly surprised he with some of his players, “Fundamentally, some guys did decent. Better than what I thought they would probably do, better than they probably have done in practice, so we’ve got to continue to work on the little things.” He also noted that linebacker Exree Loe and safety Deamonte Lindsay both played really well and are going to get more in-game looks. “Exree did better than he probably shown in practice and he’s going to be getting a lot more opportunities to be successful. Lindsay has moved up the depth charts, he’s going to be given more opportunities. He did a great job on kickoff team as well, he split a double team and made a tackle. He played better in the game than he had practiced,” Koenning said. “What we need to get him to do is get him to practice, then obviously when he plays in the game it’ll be another level. I wish he was a young guy that we could groom and teach all those things, but we’re just going to do the best we can with what we got,” he adds.

Another player that will likely see more time is true freshman Tykee Smith who saw only six snaps on Saturday, but made a couple of plays.

If West Virginia can hold the Tigers to under 40 points, they have a great shot of ending the week being 2-0. Dan Zangrilli of the Mountaineer Sports Network mentioned that Missouri is 5-19 under head coach Barry Odom when not scoring 40 points.

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