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September 24, 2014

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:¬† We're excited to be 4‑0.¬† Certainly Blacksburg is a tough place to play.¬† We were fortunate to get out of there with a win.¬† Took a couple days off, now we'll clean the game up today and look forward to the Miami game here next Saturday.

Q.¬† You spoke about going into the bye week.¬† You're sitting at 4‑0.¬† There are good things going on.¬† What are some of the areas in this bye week you want to address or work on?
COACH JOHNSON:¬† We've got a lot of stuff we have to work on.¬† I don't think we're necessarily where you'd like to be in any area.¬† We left a lot of points out on the field Saturday.¬† We missed some huge pass plays we could have hit early in the first half.¬† Defensively we let them get behind us a couple times, and they under‑threw the ball.¬† Special teams, our return game is not great.¬† We can get better in almost every area.¬† That's why we're excited to be 4‑0 and know we can get so much better.

Q.¬† As far as 4‑0, where does a lot of the leadership come from for you offensively, defensively, special teams?¬† Who has really stepped up for you and helped to give this leadership?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think the quarterback certainly has made plays on offense.  He and probably DeAndre Smelter.  Defensively I think our guys like to Quayshawn Nealy who played some.  Adam Gotsis probably played his best game Saturday at Virginia Tech.  He was another guy that was a starter a year ago.
This week we'll elect captains and it will be interesting to see who the team elects.  I always like to play four games before we do that.  I think that will tell us a lot who they think the leaders are.

Q.  Are you going to be watching the Miami game this week?  What do you see early in the film with Miami?
COACH JOHNSON:  I'm sure that we will.  We've had some really good games with Miami.  They've played us tough the last few years.  We've had a hard time stopping them.  Last year they averaged almost 10 yards a play against us.  You're not going to win very many games if that's the case.
We have to be more consistent offensively.  We'll watch, get a good take on their personnel.  I think both teams know what the other's going to do.  It's not so much of that, but just trying to evaluate and taking a good look at the past and seeing what we can do to help us have a better chance to win the game.

Q.  Do you think the bye week came at the right time for you guys?
COACH JOHNSON:  You know, you don't ever know.  In some ways you got a couple guys beat up a little, then you have some momentum.  It's really hard to tell.
I've been in this business long enough, I quit worrying about that stuff.  You just kind of take it for what it is and try not to worry about stuff you don't control.

Q.  Coming off the Virginia Tech game, what is it about that series?  You've been the two teams that have pretty much dominated the division for most of the decade.  The games each of you played against each other have been so close, so competitive, seven straight games by six points or less.  Why does that happen with one series like that?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think, as you said, predominantly the team that's won that game has represented the coastal division every year but one I think till last year actually.  I'd like to think it's two pretty good football programs that know the importance of the game and they battle.
But you're right, those games have gone down to the last possession almost every year.  This year we came out on top.  The past three or four, we felt like we'd been kicked in the gut because we couldn't make a play at the end to make it happen.
They've been hard‑fought, tough games.

Q.¬† Is there any sense that this is surprising?¬† You were 3‑0 going in.¬† You sputtered a little bit at times.¬† You had to come from behind to win the Georgia Southern game. ¬†To come out and play the best opponent you played all year, and play such a strong game, it has to be gratifying, but was it surprising?
COACH JOHNSON:¬† No, I don't think it was surprising.¬† I think we've gotten better each week.¬† I wouldn't sleep too much on Georgia Southern.¬† They got a pretty good football team.¬† We got off to a big lead, 35‑10 at halftime.¬† As a young team, like you can do, we relaxed.¬† They got the momentum and it was hard to get it back.¬† To our credit, we found a way to get it back.
We've got a young team.  Hopefully they're going to get better each week.  We're going to have to, we're going to have to play better than we played.
But they work hard.  They come to practice.  So, no, I'm not surprised that we won.

Q.  Your next five games after the break are against division rivals.  You have to win every game, but is it any different playing the division rivals like that?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, sure, because you don't know how it's going to unfold.  The tiebreaker comes into play a lot in our division.  They almost count like two games as opposed to the cross games.
It will be huge.  We've got the next one at home, and it's against a team we haven't had a great deal of success with the last few years.  It's a big game for us.  We have to play well.  We have to get better for that game.

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