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Vic Koenning: The worst thing that happens to a fighter...

Vic Koenning wants more toughness out of the Illinois linebackers.

In his second year as defensive coordinator / inside linebackers coach, Koenning says, "We're little cocker spaniels right now.”

His goal? Make them like Pitbulls.

Koenning told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg,“Like Mickey told Rocky, 'The worst thing that can happen to a fighter is to get civilized. You've got to get back to old school.' In my opinion, we've got to get back to a little bit of old school.”

He didn’t stop there.

Koenning offered up, "It’s like one of those country dances. You take one step forward and two steps back or two steps forward and one step back, however that goes. I haven’t been able to crack the code with some of these guys to get them to absorb it. We’ve got a lot of questions to answer in the linebacker corps."

Following Saturday’s scrimmage, head coach Ron Zook said things looked a lot better than the first scrimmage from a year ago. Zook was pleased with the tackling, but disappointed with a number of big plays the defense allowed.

You can watch the Illinois spring game on on April 23 at 2 pm EST. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the replay at 7 pm EST.

Illinois practices this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Zook's squad will open with five consecutive home games in 2011 against Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Arizona State, Western Michigan, and Northwestern. The schedule features 8 home games and just 4 road games.

Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin all travel to Champaigne. Gotta capitalize, Zooker.