Brown Names Koenning WVU’s Defensive Coordinator
MORGANTOWn, W.Va.–West Virginia University football coach Neal Brown has announced the hiring of Vic Koenning as the Mountaineers’ defensive coordinator and safeties coach.
“Vic has coached in many different conferences including the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and Sun Belt,” Brown said. “He has been a head coach at the collegiate level, and I am excited to bring his coaching experience to West Virginia. Throughout his career, Vic’s defenses are nationally known for their tenacity and ability to force turnovers, making them very opportunistic units. He is no stranger to Big 12 football and will be a great leader for our unit.”
Koenning comes with Brown to West Virginia after serving as his defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Troy for the past four years.
“I have a great comfort zone with Neal having known and worked with him for many years. I share his direction with the game of football and developing student-athletes,” Koenning said. “I am blessed to have the opportunity to coach at West Virginia, and I look forward to coaching Big 12 football and the great challenge it presents. The greater the challenge, the greater the reward.”
From 2016-18, Troy’s defense allowed 20.8 points per game, ranking No. 4 nationally among non-power 5 schools. From 2015-18, the Trojans are No. 2 nationally among FBS schools in takeaways (106).
In 2018, Troy’s defense gave up 22.0 points per game, ranking No. 28 nationally and 347.9 yards per game, ranking No. 31 in the nation. The Trojan defense was No. 3 nationally in turnovers gained (31), No. 5 in interceptions (18) and fumbles recovered (13), No. 11 in turnover margin (0.77), No. 16 in tackles for loss (7.6), No. 21 in red zone defense and tied for No. 28 in first-down defense (240).
Troy also led the Sun Belt Conference in sacks, interceptions, turnovers, red zone defense and was No. 2 in rushing defense, total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense.
In 2017, Troy finished No. 4 nationally with a school record 112 tackles for loss (third with 8.62 per game), while also finishing seventh with 3.23 sacks per game. Former walk-on Hunter Reese earned All-Sun Belt First Team honors.
The Trojans led the nation in red zone defense in 2017 as the Trojans set a school record for wins, won the Sun Belt Championship and ended LSU’s 49-game non-conference home winning streak.
The Troy defense finished the 2016 season No. 2 nationally in passes intercepted, No. 4 in turnovers forced, No. 17 in rushing defense, No. 21 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 22.1 points per game and No. 28 in third-down defense.
Defensive end Rashad Dillard was named the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016; Troy’s first player to win the award since DeMarcus Ware in 2004.
Troy also finished the 2016 season 10-3 with a victory in the Dollar General Bowl, the first top-25 ranking in school and Sun Belt Conference history and tied for the best win-improvement in the country.
The Trojans finished the 2015 season with the second-best turnaround nationally in opponent third-down percentage (14.62 percent), the fourth-best turnaround in yards per play allowed (-1.13), the fifth-best improvement in tackles for loss per game (2.59) and 16th-best improvement in total defense (-62.7).
Troy held opponents to 391.2 yards per game, an improvement of 62.8 yards from the previous season. The Trojans scored five defensive touchdowns, the third most in the country and most by a Troy team since 2004. Bandit Tyler Roberts earned first team All-Sun Belt honors and finished sixth nationally with 1.55 tackles for loss per game.
Additionally, Troy became just the sixth team in the previous eight seasons to not allow a play of 50 or more yards over the course of a season. The Trojans established a new school record as they held eight opponents under the 100-yard rushing mark. Troy finished the season having allowed just 18.5 points, 105.3 rushing yards and 336.5 total yards per game.
Prior to his most recent stay at Troy, Koenning spent time at North Carolina (DC/2012-14), Illinois (DC/2010-11), Kansas State (Co-DC/2009), Clemson (DC/2005-08), Troy (DC/2003-04), Wyoming (Head Coach/2000-02, DC/1997-99) and Memphis (DB/1991-96, GA/1986-90).
As North Carolina’s defensive coordinator, Koenning directed the safeties and inside linebackers during his tenure in Chapel Hill. In 2012, UNC finished third in the nation in tackles for loss with more than eight per game.
Under Ron Zook at Illinois, the Illini defense improved from No. 91 in the country to No. 7 in his two seasons. Illinois ranked No. 4 in the nation in pass defense, No. 5 in tackles for loss and No. 9 in sacks. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus led the nation in sacks and was second in tackles for loss. Koenning led Illinois to a 2011 win over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl as the team’s interim head coach.
At Kansas State under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats improved from No. 112 in the NCAA in rushing defense in 2008 to No. 16 in 2009, total defense from No. 117 to No. 40 and scoring defense from No. 110 to No. 48. As the defensive coordinator at Clemson, he oversaw four top-16 defenses. He also accomplished something no other Tiger defensive coordinator had achieved in the school’s history as each of his four defenses finished in the top 25 in scoring, total defense and pass efficiency defense.
In 2008, Clemson’s defense led the ACC in scoring defense and ranked ninth in the nation, allowing 16.6 points per game. The 2007 defensive performance might have been the best of his tenure at Clemson. The Tigers led the ACC in pass defense and turnover margin, and finished No. 2 in total and scoring defense. Clemson was No. 9 in the nation in total defense (307.0) and No. 10 in scoring defense (18.7).
In 2006, cornerback Tye Hill was a first-round pick, while defensive end Gaines Adams was the No. 4 overall selection in 2007. Defensive end Phillip Merling was the No. 32 overall selection of the 2008 draft by Miami. In his first season at Clemson in 2005, the Tigers finished No. 11 in the nation in scoring defense (17.6).
In his previous stay at Troy, Koenning oversaw a Trojan defense that finished the 2004 season ranked No. 6 nationally in pass efficiency (100.6), No. 8 in rushing (100.9), No. 10 in scoring (16.7) and No. 16 in total defense (311.0). In the second game of the year, the Trojans defeated No. 19 Missouri as his defense pitched a shutout over the game’s final 52 minutes.
He was the head coach at Wyoming from 2000-02 after three years as the defensive coordinator with the Cowboys. In 1997, Wyoming led the nation in interceptions and was second in sacks.
Koenning served as a full-time assistant coach working with the defensive backs at Memphis from 1991-96. His final year at Memphis was highlighted by a 21-17 upset of No. 6 Tennessee.
A three-year starter, team captain and 1983 graduate at Kansas State, he was the recipient of the Paul Coffman Award, presented to the Wildcat who displays the most outstanding leadership.
A native of Owasso, Oklahoma, Koenning and his wife, Tracey, have four children, Kimberly, Brady, Camden and Jackson.