Before Vic Koenning took over the Illini defense in 2010, the unit was among the worst in college football. Under Koenning, the 2011 Illini finished second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in total defense.
“Y’all know me,’’ Koenning said. “I’m only as good as the staff. The success we had this year was because of us. It was the defensive staff and the players.’
It’s a shame Vic has to go; it really is. New Head Coach Tim Beckman offered him the chance to keep the defensive coordinator job, but Koenning turned it down.
Nothing definite announced for Koenning‘s future job but he clearly has some options. According to Carolina Blue:
Sources close to the situation report that Illinois interim head coach and former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning is expected to join Larry Fedora’s staff at UNC.
He’s mentioned Auburn and Troy as potential landing spots. Koenning will continue to lead the Fighting Illini through their game against UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 31.
Illinois currently ranks fourth the nation in pass defense. The Illini also stand at No. 5 in tackles for loss, No. 9 in sacks, No. 21 in scoring defense, No. 26 in pass efficiency defense and No. 42 in rushing defense. In 2009, the year before Koenning arrived at Illinois, the Orange and Blue ranked 91st in total defense, 100th in pass defense, 84th in TFLs, 89th in sacks, 96th in scoring defense, 103rd in pass efficiency defense and 76th in rushing defense.
“I am very happy to have Keith Gilmore agree to remain on our staff as defensive line coach,” Beckman said. “If you studied the Illinois team this year, the defensive line was the strongest area of the team and Coach Gilmore did a great job. Whitney Mercilus’ improvement this season under Keith was obvious, as he has been named an All-American by just about everyone. He also played a big part in Corey Liuget’s development into a first-round draft pick last year. He is a strong recruiter and will be a great asset for the program.”
Gilmore has been instrumental in Illinois’ recent success on the defensive line, producing a 2011 first-round NFL Draft pick in defensive tackle Corey Liuget and a 2011 consensus All-American in defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Liuget led Illinois with 12.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks among his 63 tackles last season, while Mercilus leads the nation with 14.5 sacks, 1.21 sacks per game and nine forced fumbles this year.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
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