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Quotes From Tuesday's Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Sept. 30, 2008


“I was really proud of our guys in the Mississippi State game. I thought that we played one of our better games of the year, especially on offense taking care of the ball. Defensively, we were able to keep them out of the end-zone and keep scores off of the board. The blocked field goal was a huge play by Michael Johnson. We got a lot of turnovers, which really helps to shorten the field. The bye week came at a good time; we had a lot of guys banged up and injured. We were able to get a lot of them back healthy.

“Duke is a much improved football team. They are very experienced. I don’t think people have focused on that enough. They have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. Coach Cutcliffe has come in and given them some new direction, motivation and they have bought in to what he is asking them to do. They are playing very well so it will be a huge challenge for us this week.”

On film, is this Duke defense a little bit more physical than they have been in the past?

“I think they have always had pretty good players — the two linebackers are really good. They actually have three good linebackers, but two of them really stand out. I think they have some big, physical defensive lineman. They are playing well. They have held one team to seven points and another one to just three. They are playing really good on defense right now.”

Are there other things you can do with the offense?

“There are always other things you can do with the offense. Will we do anything Saturday that we haven’t done? I doubt it. It is what it is.”

Do you have any offensive concerns about Duke?

“I think their quarterback is very talented. He gets hot and hits a lot of passes. He has [Eron] Riley at receiver who, is really good. Some of the freshmen receivers are very talented as well. The freshman running back that came in at the end of the Virginia game really ran hard for them. What we have to make sure that we get some pressure on the quarterback and try to hit him a few times.”

How do you keep the quarterback contained?

“You have to stay in your rushing lanes and make sure you’re ready for the quarterback draw. Up until a week ago, that was probably their best running play. I’m sure if our defensive ends are getting up-field and giving pressure we are going to see that a few times, so you have to have a plan for that. They have to be smart about their rush lanes and if we aren’t getting it done that way we have to have a plan.”

How do you feel about the depth situation and putting in subs?

“We don’t have a lot of depth. I thought some of the guys did a good job coming in last week. [Center Andrew] Folkner did a good job coming in against Mississippi State and keeping the game going. The offensive line is where we are really short; that’s one of the places we can least afford to have guys hurt. We have rotated some guys. We have cross-trained Lucas [Cox] to play both A-back and B-back. Jon [Dwyer] can also play both A or B back. Some of those things you have to do. If we had more depth then we wouldn’t need to, but we can only work with the hand we are dealt.

“We have gone into plenty of games having three walk-on receivers out there. We try to do everything we can to red-shirt the majority of our freshman class. We have had to take Quentin Sims with us every time on the road and dress him because we have only had three live bodies. If somebody went down, he might have to play. That is what I’m talking about from a depth standpoint. We are going to be way ahead of the game next year. Yesterday in practice, with Correy [Earls] back, we had 10 wide receivers. That would be a real nice luxury if they were all good to go. It will be the same way at B-back.”

What do you have to say about Andrew Folkner coming in for Dan Voss at center?

“He did a good job. He takes a lot of reps at practice. We run two huddles and the second huddle gets the same amount of reps as the first. Its rapid fire — we may do a 20-minute option period and run 40 plays. They have played a lot, maybe not in games, but in practice. I told Jaybo [Shaw] after his first series to just calm down because it’s like practice and he does it every day. Once he got the feel of it, I think he got into the groove and played and didn’t think about it. The other thing is that the other guys out there playing didn’t panic. They just kept playing. Part of that is just being you and worrying about your own self. They don’t have time to be worrying about anybody else.”


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