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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference - Alcorn State

Press Conference Video | Press Conference Audio Only

Opening statement:
“Well I think after eight weeks of spring football and fall camp, getting ready to play, we’re excited to be in game week. We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to go out against a different team and see exactly where we are. I thought we had a good camp, it was really physical. For the most part, from an injury standpoint, well we should’ve gone into the game pretty healthy. We’ve had a couple of off the field incidents that may affect a couple of guys playing, but other than that just excited to play.”

On what sticks out about Alcorn State on film:
“Well, I think they’re very well coached, I think they have a good system and that they understand it. They know what they want to do, they’re very similar to the system that Rich Rodriguez ran at West Virginia. As you would imagine the offensive coordinator played offensive line at West Virginia and Pat White was the quarterback there, so they have some familiarity with that system. They got a new quarterback and a new running back, so there’s not a whole lot of tape on them, although they played some a year ago. Offensively, they’ve got a couple of pretty good receivers. The tight end is a good blocker. Their offensive line, they’ve played some, they’re like everyone else. They’ve lost some guys and played some. Last year I think they averaged over 400 yards a game and scored some points and did very well in their league. Defensively, in that league everybody kind of throws the ball around so you know it’s hard to single out any individual guys. They’ve got a couple of defensive ends that are pretty good pass rushers, they’ve got two big guys inside to hold the point and they run well. I think they’ve won their division in the SWAC four straight times. You know they’ve got some good players and a good team, a lot of JUCO players.”

On youth of defense in key positions and their athleticism or just playing well:
“We hope it’s some or all of it. It’s up to our guys over there to coach and let them coach and then we’ll evaluate the results. So I’m sure they’re playing in there, who they think they need to play.”

On starters and depth chart:
“I think it’s still a process and the defensive guys will get a better feel for it as they play in games. I’m going to give you an example, Taquon Marshall is the starter, he’s going take most of the reps unless something happens. A lot of those other positions, talking about tackle, or at stinger or whatever, the guy who’s listed as the backup may play more snaps than the guy who’s a starter or until they sort it out. In this game, Will [Bryan] will play tackle, unless he’s playing guard, Andrew will play tackle, Zach Quinney will play tackle, Bailey [Ivemeyer} will play tackle, maybe Jack DeFoor. So all those kids are going to play and then as you start to play other competition and you get into two or three games, if there’s a huge drop off then you’ll have a starter. In some positions, at receiver right now with the guys who are injured, with Adonicas [Sanders] out and Steph [Dolphus] with his hand. More than likely, that’s going to be a three man rotation, with Malachi Carter being the third guy who’s a true freshman. So he probably is not going to play as much as the third guy at tackle, but he’ll play some. If he plays well, he’ll earn more playing time. We may put him out there and after three games, say oh my god he needs to be the starter.”

On the experience of backfield this season and potential to be explosive:
“We’ve got a lot of those guys back, certainly Taquon should be better after a year of play. Qua [Searcy] and Clinton [Lynch], if they can stay healthy, will play a lot of football. Nathan Cottrell has played a lot, so you got three guys there. I think d-backs is probably the deepest it’s ever been, as far as players. Once we get Kenny [Cooper] back, if we get Kenny back after the first week, we’re probably going to be as deep on the offensive line as we’ve been in a long time. So you know you hope, but somebody can step off the curve. We had an injury this week, Bruce Swilling, I don’t think he’ll play. He got hurt on a scooter. So you just don’t know, things like that happen so you got to stay healthy. Just like with Lucas [Johnson] getting hurt, I mean that’s a big injury. People say well he’s just a backup quarterback, but it changes everything. It changes James Graham from being a receiver; it changes the position where you have a lot of depth. So historically, the years that you have really good teams are the years you can stay away from injuries and guys can play and you win the close games.”

On how high the limit is and what can be accomplished this year:
“We got 12 games, you’d hope to try and win them all. I tell those guys it sounds cliché, but we’re worried about the first one. This first game, I got a lot of respect for Alcorn, you watch them they’re well coached. Whatever, we’re playing Georgia Tech. To me it’s no turnovers, no penalties, special teams, all those things that will lose you a game early in the season. We’ve got to go out there and take care of that and play with some fire and some enthusiasm. I mean you spend an awful lot of time getting ready to play football, to play 12 games or 13 games and well you better enjoy it when you get out there because it doesn’t last long.”

On decision to change discipline policy:
“I came to the decision to change my discipline policy this fall. I’m tired of punishing the coaches and myself, getting up at six to run every morning. We’re not getting up because we’re usually here, but it doesn’t seem to affect some of the guys. It’s usually the 90/10 rule, 10 percent of the guys cause 90 percent of the problems. I don’t think we ask guys to do a whole lot, we ask them to go to breakfast if you have a class before 10. We ask them to go to class and we ask them to go to study hall and be on time. Part of that is taking accountability and training and being responsible to your teammates. Now once and awhile something’s going to happen and I’ve got to interpret that. Take Parker Braun, Parker has been here for three years and he’s never missed anything. To my knowledge he’s never missed class, never missed a breakfast check. If all of sudden he misses a breakfast check and he calls in and goes oh my god coach, I’m five minutes late, my clock didn’t go off, okay I got you. If I got another guy who does that, who’s missed 25, probably not going to listen as much. So that’s kind of the way it works.”

On view of discipline being a problem before:
“I don’t think discipline is a problem as a general rule here because of the type of player that you get, the type of individual you get. I really do believe that little things are important and the more I can teach the fact that little things are important, I think that has a lot to do with whether or not you win close games. When we recruit guys and I go into a home, I tell their mom and dad, we’re going to try and make them the best football player and we’re going to make sure they get their degree. I take that serious and if I’m trying to make them to be the best person they can be, I need to teach them some accountability somewhere along the way. I don’t have discipline problems where every Monday morning I get a call from the Atlanta Police department because they’re brawling at some club in midtown. That’s not what I’m talking about; I’m just talking about little things like going to class, going to breakfast when you’re supposed to. All those things that are designed to help those guys achieve and getting that degree and being successful. I want them to take some accountability in doing it and it’s a part of growing up.”

On what he wants the team to take away from Saturday’s game:
“I want to win the game and I’d like for our guys to go out and perform well. We need to be better in all areas we’ve identified, special teams is huge. If we’re in a situation where we’re in a last drive before half, last drive of the game I’d like to see some improvement. Consistency, negative plays on defense, big plays on offense, just play a good football game and then we’ll build from there.”

On signing of better classes and the new redshirt rule:
“I think what it does is gives you more depth. I’ve always told the coaches if you’ve got a guy that can help us win, he needs to play. Sometimes because of injuries, guys who maybe shouldn’t have played, had to play because of depth. The one thing that the new rule will do is it gives you some depth. Now if we know that one of our freshmen is going to play all year, then we’re going to get them into the game on Saturday. I don’t think you just let all the freshmen dress and say that’s one of their four games. I think you need to gradually think it out.”



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