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September 17, 2014

Paul Johnson

PAUL JOHNSON:  We're excited to finally be into conference play this week.  We're fortunate that we've been able to win our first three games.  Saturday was a crazy game, a little bit of a game that got away, and then we found a way to win at the end.  But no, going to Blacksburg is an awfully tough place to go play.  They've been good for a long time, do a really good job, and when you watch the tape, they've got some talented young players on their football team, so it'll be a big challenge for our young team to go up there.

Q.  I know obviously you guys are very run‑based, but when you look at the trouble they had in the pass game defending last week, did you see something there that looked attackable, or did you just see a team that didn't play great on a Saturday?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, I think that East Carolina made some plays.  You have to give them some credit.  They've got a really good quarterback and some good receivers.  And they got a lot of turns early on.  They were out there.  They got to play a lot of series.
You know, we're going to try to do what we do.  We'll take our shots throwing the ball when we think we've got a shot, and to be successful against them, you've got to hit some big plays in the passing game.  They play awfully aggressive.
When they're up there in straight man and they're pressing you and bringing the pressure, you've got to hit some deep ones.  If you don't hit any of them, it's going to be a long day for you.

Q.  The past two years they've done a decent job defending the run against you guys.  What is it about Bud's scheme or the way they approach you that has made them somewhat successful?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, I think they've got a good scheme, and they've also got good players.  They line up pretty much the same way against us that six or seven other teams do, but they don't have the same guys.  Last year the Fuller kid killed us, Kyle, with stunts, and we turned the ball over and jumped offsides about 30 times.  They don't need your help, so we've got to control ourselves, and if we'll do that, we'll have a chance.

Q.  I was just looking at the numbers, and Justin is leading the ACC in passing efficiency.  Are you surprised by that?
PAUL JOHNSON:  No.  I think if you go back and look, historically we would probably be up there pretty much every year.  We just haven't had enough attempts in the past for him to be in the standings, or our quarterbacks.  The way they do the efficiency rating, you know, if we're completing over 50 percent of our throws, we're going to be up there pretty high efficiency‑wise.

Q.  The other thing I wanted to ask you about, you kind of touched on it briefly about the turnovers and penalties and things like that.  In the three games this year you've had two games without a turnover.  Can you talk about, is that a function, again, of good execution, or are you doing things to cut down on that kind of thing?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, you work on it all the time.  I mean, this is not the only year that we've worked on it.  We work on it a lot.  But sometimes it's just you're fortunate.  As long as your fundamentals are good and you take care of the ball, we've still got a lot of instances where we need to secure it better, make better decisions, and we try to talk a lot about play the next down.  But as the competition level and the speed increases, you'd better be on your P's and Q's with that stuff because that's when it happens.

Q.  What's it like coaching against Coach Beamer every time you guys face them?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, it's been some close games.  I mean, I think if you look back from the first year I came, we lost by, I think, 3 up there at the end of the game.  The next year we were fortunate and we won a close game here, and then the rest of the games have all been pretty close.  A lot of them have come down to the last possession, and they've been meaningful games I think every year I've been in the league but one; the winner of that game has went on to represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship.  Division game, important game, and they've been close, hard‑fought games.  They've done a good job and come out ahead more than we have.  We've got to try to find a way to get on top of them.

Q.  How tough is it to play in Blacksburg because people don't realize it's a noisy little stadium?  How do you get that stuff ready to go?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, it's tough, but you play a lot of places that are loud, but certainly their fans are into it and do a great job, and it's a loud place to play.

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