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Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 14, 2009

A transcription of head coach Paul Johnson’s weekly press conference.

Opening Statement
“Like they say, it is a fast turnaround. We are trying to figure out what day it is. Today is actually Wednesday for us in the practice routine. At least this week we had the chance to get the full seven days. We are pleased with the win against Clemson last Thursday. There are certainly a lot of areas we got to get better at. I think you can learn as much or more sometimes when you win than when you lose, so that’s a positive. It is a huge challenge this week going to Miami, a very talented team. They have a lot of great athletes and a lot of history and tradition. Right now they are coming off a huge win for them where they played really well against Florida State. First road trip, first division game in the conference, it is a big game for us this week.”

On having two Thursday night games in a row
“No, I’d rather have played Monday and had nine days. I think that would be more of an advantage.”

On Miami’s defensive line comparing to Clemson
“I think they are similar in a lot of ways. They have some big physical guys; they’ll have a couple of 300 pounders in there. Allen Bailey is huge. I mean he is a great athlete. They are going to have good athletes. It is Miami, they always do.

On the importance of winning the first division game
“It’s very important, the first division game. I think to get to where we want to go we certainly have to beat our division opponents. The last one was huge in that you can’t afford to lose a conference game at home. But you can say the same thing for when you play a game out of your division because it almost counts as two games. We saw how that worked last year when we lost the first division game to Virginia Tech and it came back to haunt us at the end as we were tied in the record, but we lost the head to head. So it’s an important game, but the thing about it is if you win then the next one becomes more important and more important, that’s the way it works.”

On Miami quarterback Jacory Harris
“Well he [Jacory Harris] was excellent in the game against Florida State. I think he has matured a lot. He played very composed and made some big throws and big plays when he needed to. There’s no question he’s a gifted athlete.”

On looking at last years tape
“Oh yeah we look at the tape, but they have a new defensive coordinator as well. I’m sure they will have some subtle changes. We just got to go out and execute more consistently than we did Thursday night.

On areas that need to improve
“I think third-down efficiency is one that we’ve been really good at up until the last game. We have to throw the ball more effectively. We need to be more efficient at throwing the ball. Defensively, we have to quit giving up the big plays. It killed us Thursday night because if you go back and look at the game we really struggled in the third quarter on both sides of the ball. It is one thing to come out and go three and out, but they scored on four straight possessions too. It’s like we were compounding the problem. It doesn’t look as bad if you’re three and out and the other team doesn’t score, but when they’re scoring when they get it, it creates a problem. We played as bad a quarter as we have played since I’ve been here.”

On preventing the big plays
“Well yeah, wherever they are you can’t let guys get behind you. They are going to complete some balls and move the ball some you just have to keep them in front and make them work for the points. We gave up some huge chunks. I think over 200 yards of what Clemson got the other night came on five plays. You can say the same thing for us on offense, all the plays count. You can’t take those out, but if you can limit them then it’s certainly going to help you.”

On Miami having the most athletic players in the conference
“I don’t know. I can tell you after Thursday night. I mean it is hard to say until you play. I know Miami is going to be athletic, they always are they always have good players. Every team in our league is going to have some good players. We just have to buckle up and be ready to go every week.”

On road intensity
“It is the first road game. We will see how we will react. I would think the intensity and those kinds of things would be good at home too. We had a great crowd on Thursday night. I mean it was loud and they were into the game. I don’t want to take anything away from Clemson because you have to give them credit too; they played well in the third quarter. For whatever reason, we are having a hard time keeping our focus and intensity when we jump out ahead.”

On the crowd on Thursday night against Clemson
“It was great, I think that is what home field is about. I was really impressed with our fans and the way they supported us. I was disappointed that we didn’t keep our focus and intensity because everybody talks about adjustment this adjustment that, there were not any adjustments. I mean they lined up the same way they lined up in the first half and we were doing the same stuff that we were doing in the first half. The intensity level and execution level wasn’t there.”

On Josh Nesbitt bouncing back
“I think Josh [Nesbitt] has the ability to do that. It’s a couple of things and I think sometimes it just snowballs. We made some bad decisions and we probably put him in a couple bad spots. The first play of the game was open if we throw the ball. He said he didn’t see the safety. I don’t think you will ever see him do that again. He will learn to keep the ball back down where he needs to throw it. We are talking about a guy that hasn’t played a lot. It’s not like he has been a three-year starter and played a lot. The thing that I was proud of Josh for was when we had to have it in the fourth quarter, he completed the big third down throw to get us in position to tie the game and eventually win the game. Historically for Josh, when he’s played a game that maybe wasn’t quite up to his standards or where he wants to be, he usually bounces back with a pretty good one. I’m expecting that from him on Thursday night.”

On quarterbacks getting into a rhythm
“You can look at things either way. We’ve had quarterbacks that completed 60 percent in this offense. I caught a little bit of the Navy game on Saturday and I think their guy is completing 70 percent; he doesn’t throw it anymore than we do. What we’ve got to do is find some ways to help Josh [Nesbitt] get some completions early where he doesn’t have to make the great throws. Then we have to catch it. We had a couple times where we have the chance to catch the ball and when he puts it up for the receiver, sometimes deep, there’s no rule that you can’t go get it just like the defensive back can. Certainly he can throw it better, we could probably help him some ourselves and we could do better in all facets. I’m not going to lay it all on him.”

On big plays and rhythm
“I just like to score whenever you can. You want to hit all the big plays you can. What we’ve done is we’ve gotten way out in front and lost some of our focus and some of our intensity and that’s what you can’t do. We have just got to execute better. I know everybody says that. You are not going to have 700 yards in every game. I mean it’s not going to happen. The other team has coaches and players too. They have a chance to come in and play. The thing I find amusing about football in general, not just us or whatever, it’s like if somebody struggles it’s always something that you did and it can’t ever be anything they did. I mean it’s going to be some give and take. I was disappointed in our offensive performance. We had 420 yards. That’s not bad; I would venture to bet you there’s not going to be a lot of teams that get 420 yards on that defense this year. Can we play better. Yes. Do we need to play better. You bet. And I could say the same thing on defense. When we had to have a play to win the game at the end we came up with it. In between the first quarter and the fourth quarter it wasn’t pretty, so we have room to get better. Everybody acts like it was all some kind of an adjustment or they did something different. They lined up the same way all night and so did we. They out executed us in the third quarter and played with a little more intensity and fire.”

On running backs stepping up when Jonathan Dwyer is being keyed on by defense
“That is the nature of what we do. There are going to be other guys that have a chance to be successful and the key is that is everybody is selling out to stop Jonathan [Dwyer] then the other guys all have to have big days. I’m not sure they sold out to stop Jon. We were running the option and the read key wasn’t always taking Jon. It was the guys inside that we were trying to block and we have to a better job blocking those guys. You’ve got them out numbered or whatever you’ve got to be able to block and that’s something we’ll work on this week”

On Roddy Jones
“I though Roddy [Jones] played hard. I think he will probably be more comfortable this week after having a game under his belt. He did some good things; he had a great block on Anthony’s long touchdown run. He did some good things. He dropped the ball so that gets magnified. He’s not the first guy to every drop one and he won’t be the last, it happens.”

On potential of defensive tackles
“Well I thought they fought hard. We have to find a way to get more production from those guys with the exception of Derrick [Morgan]. I mean right now he is the guy with all the production, but they are working hard. Sometimes for those guys if you are unnoticed you are probably doing O.K.”

On Miami’s offensive line against Florida State
“I think it was there execution for the first game. They executed very well. They made on a lot of big plays. I thought they protected the quarterback well because they run a lot of crossing routes. Florida State plays a lot of man coverage so their offensive line gave them a lot of time on some long crossing routes.”

On Derrick Morgan going up against Jason Fox of Miami
“I am sure you will see them match up. It just depends on the situation and where the ball is. They will be lined up against each other.”

On rotating players on the offensive line
“We will not play two lines but we need to play more players. We talked to some of those guys this week and they need to practice better. If they practice better, they will play in games. I was encouraged by two guys yesterday so we will have more guys play if they do that.”

On definition of A-back position
“It is the way we determine the guys in the slot. When they fly back in motion and you put them behind the B-back, they will be the tailback. They are sort of a hybrid between the tailback and a slot receiver. You can define them either way you want. You can call the B-back a tailback or call him a fullback. We just put those designations on them so we know who is who. They are important like everybody else. They are a hybrid guy. They need to know how to block, run the ball and be receivers. They are a jack of all trades.”

On Tyler Melton getting any reps during Miami game
“I do not think so. It looks more like the North Carolina game. He is doing better but we need to get him conditioned.”

On scout team
“They are doing some things better. Like everyone, they can do things better. They are learning self-preservation, which is a big thing for those guys. You have two huddles coming at you on full speed. You have to learn how to fight back. It makes them a lot tougher.”

On running backs being able to catch the ball
“We usually recruit running backs. A lot of guys are interested in doing that. If you want to make it to the next level, you better be a good receiver. You better be able to block. If you watch the NFL, a lot of the third guys are slot backs, receivers. If you take a kid that is a 185 pound tailback in high school, he may not be fired up to run between the 300 pound tackles all day. It gets him out on the perimeter.”

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