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ACC Football Kickoff

July 23, 2006

The Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff is underway in Jacksonville, Fla. More than 300 media members gathered at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort to visit with ACC players and coaches and preview the upcoming season. Georgia Tech was represented Sunday by all-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson and senior defensive tackle Joe Anoai.

Calvin Johnson Junior, Wide Receiver, Tyrone, Ga.

What do you do for an encore?

“There are always things you can improve on. I talk to my coach, Coach [Buddy] Geis. He studies my game a lot, and he always has little things that I can work on.”

What improvements do you see on offense?

“Reggie has always been a leader but he’s taken more control of the offense. He’s doing everything he has to do and then some. Our offensive line has a lot more experience and a lot more chemistry. Tashard Choice got a lot of playing time last year, so he’s going to be big for us.”

How do you deal with the expectations and hype?

“None of that affects me. I might hear that stuff, but I don’t listen to it. I have my own expectations of myself and that’s all that matters.”

Did playing baseball growing up help you with football?

“You have to see the ball to the bat, so I guess that could have helped my hand-eye coordination.”

Do you take pride in your blocking?

“Of course. All the blocks that we make can lead to touchdowns for our running backs.”

Is there one defense that you’ve faced that you really had to study and prepare for?

“I can’t say that there’s one defense that I had to studied more than any other; I studied them all. I prepare the same way for every game, going over the scouting report, watching film, studying tendencies.”

On college football being a year-round sport:

“There’s nothing we do that I don’t like, whether it’s practicing or working out. I love football and I love competition. I might not like getting up early in the morning, but I like what we do.”

Hype around the Notre Dame game:

“Of course we talk about the game. It’s the season opener, it’s what we’ve been preparing for and working for all summer. I know I can’t wait to step on the field Sept. 2.”

Do you see that Notre Dame game as a personal competition between you and their wide receiver, Jeff Samardzija?

“No, I don’t see it that way at all. I just have to go out there and do the best that I can to help my team. Whatever he does, he does. It’s not a competition between the two of us; it’s a competition between the two teams.”

Have you seen every different type of coverage?

“I’ve seen a lot of different coverages that have been thrown at me. That’s really helped learn how to read coverages and learn different ways to get open. And that creates opportunities for our other receivers to make plays.

Joe Anoai Senior, Defensive Tackle, Pensacola, Fla.

What’s it like to play with Calvin?

“You can’t really say enough about it. To be as gifted as he is, to be as physically dominant as he is – he’s like a masterpiece of what God can build. And what he does on the field doesn’t even compare to the type of person he is. You have to stress what a great job his parents did, it has to start there. It’s definitely been a blessing to have him come to Georgia Tech and help us win some ballgames.”

“The first day we saw him, you just looked at him and said wow. From day one, we knew we had something really special, someone who could take over a ballgame. And the second game of his career against Clemson, he did just that.

When Calvin’s making all those great catches, what goes through your mind on the bench?

“That I hope they replay it three more times so can see it. To tell the truth, I’ve seen so many of them that I just know it’s going to be on ESPN, so I can watch it later that night. Ya’ll don’t even see all the great stuff that he does in practice. We get to see him on a daily basis. It’s cool to watch him in games, but we get to see him in practice and in the weight room and see how hard he works.

How have you improved?

I’ve gotten bigger and stronger and maintained my speed, but the biggest difference is mental. What I’ve been taught by Coach Tenuta, our defensive coordinator, is that the game is played from the eyebrows up. Everyone is talented physically, so what you know mentally is what separates you.

Do you feel pressure as a defensive line since the secondary is so young?

“I wouldn’t really call it pressure. We want it like that. We want it set up where if we do a great job, their job is easy. I would call it self-pressure that we put on ourselves because we expect it of ourselves.”

Do you pay attention to preseason magazines and rankings?

“That’s just other people’s opinions. We just worry abut each other and what goes on within the team. We want to stay within ourselves and win ballgames for ourselves, our families and our fans.”

What’s it like to play for Jon Tenuta?

“There aren’t many words to describe him. He’s a great coach. He can put you in your place in a hurry, but he just cares about the game.”

How do you describe your defense?

“I would say relentless. We definitely play the way we’re coached by Jon Tenuta.”

How excited is this team about the opener against Notre Dame?

“We’re focused. We understand what’s about to happen. We understand the hype around this game and we want to relish that and make the most of it.

Are you a vocal leader?

“A good ballclub is led by its seniors, and that’s the way it should be. If something needs to be said, I’ll say it.”

What are your goals for the season?

“We got off the plane and there was a sign about the ACC Championship. It’s 123 days away, and we want to be back here.”

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