Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning doesn't make life easy on his side of the ball. Just look at the grass strains on his white ball cap -- from getting thrown to the turf in frustration -- and the sweat on his T-shirt during those hot Camp Rantoul days.

Defensive coordinator Vic Koenning doesn't make life easy on his side of the ball. Just look at the grass strains on his white ball cap -- from getting thrown to the turf in frustration -- and the sweat on his T-shirt during those hot Camp Rantoul days.

But looking back on the scrimmage Saturday when his defense gave up big plays for touchdowns, he wasn't ready the chew out his defense. At this point, he'll continue coaching and lifting up a defense that ranked last in the Big Ten Conference a year ago.

"If we beat our team down and thell them they ain't worth a dang, then they ain't worth a dang,'' Koenning said Tuesday. If we can show them where they can improve and what they have to do to be great and make them believe they're capable of being great and building them up until they're great or good, that's our best chance.

"We're holding them accountable. Believe me, that's why my head hurts.''

Two long touchdown passes Saturday came against the first-string defense. On one play, the Illini had it surrounded, but safety Supo Sanni fell down. On the other pass play, cornerback Terry Hawthorne was out of place while sniffing for an interception.

John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.