MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Vic Koenning doesn’t believe in dumbing things down.
Even as his team’s own offense is still trying to figure things out in play installation, Koenning’s defense pulls no punches.
“There’s no such thing as vanilla stuff with Coach Vic,” said co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Moore.
This would be a point of irritation to some offensive coaches. In this case, Koenning’s co-workers have been around him long enough to understand and appreciate that it comes with the territory.
“When we were at Troy, it used to frustrate us early on because Vic just does what he does,” said quarterbacks coach Sean Reagan, who is in his fifth year working with Koenning.
Koenning wants his players lined up in different places between snaps to mask their intentions on any given play. Pre-snap confusion, such as forcing the offense to audible into the wrong play, one of the goals.
“Some days we come into film and our heads are spinning because some of the looks this defense gives you,” said senior left tackle Colton McKivitz. “Sometimes we were calling a Mike [linebacker] and he wasn’t even in the box. It’s definitely a lot of looks. It can be confusing to younger guys – where’s the guy you’re calling?”
In three seasons, running back Martell Pettaway says the Mountaineers haven’t prepared for a defense with this much pre-snap movement.
“We’ve never seen a defense like that before,” Pettaway said. “So that’s probably the biggest challenge, scheming for a defense you’ve never seen before and most likely won’t see in the Big 12. They disguise a lot of things in plenty of different ways. That’s the best I can put it, really. They line up in different areas we’ve never seen before.”
Offensive players are hopeful that the adjustment to what Koenning is doing was a big factor in their difficultly moving the ball in their first spring scrimmage. They will get another crack at it Saturday morning.
“We didn’t play our best last Saturday and we’re taking that to heart this week and preparing even more and trying to block our defense,” McKivitz said.
Moore knows what it takes to get through this rodeo, which for him is a spring rite of passage.
“I have been through these growing pains before. They are tough; the stuff that he does,” Moore said. “But there’s a reason why you look at his defense year after year. It’s tough to run the ball on them… We have all been in this situation before, at Troy, our first year there.
“It’s not fun, but it’s something that you have to continue to harp on and continue to fix because you have to pay attention to detail up front, especially versus this defense. They never sit still. They are never just going to sit there and let you block them. They are constantly moving.”
Frustrating as it may be in the present, the point is to make sure the Mountaineers are ready for the future.
“In the long run, everything he does help the offense out,” Reagan said. “By the time we get to the season, we’ve seen it all. We’ve worked on it one way or another.”