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October 20, 2014

Larry Johnson

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach Johnson.

Q.  Larry, talk about the development of Jalyn Holmes.  He's been playing a decent amount.  Talk about his development.
COACH JOHNSON:  Really, he's been playing pretty well.  He's just a young guy trying to learn how to play in the system.  10 or 15 plays here or there to get his feet wet.  As we move through the season, hopefully he can give us 20, 25 plays.

Q.  Rashad Frazier went down.  Is he okay?
COACH JOHNSON:  Not sure what is going to happen for the game.  Had an ankle injury.  Going to wait to see what happens.

Q.  Noah Spence, what can you sell us about Noah right now?
COACH JOHNSON:  He's seeking service, getting help.  Just trying to get healthy.  That's the biggest thing.  Going to class, still doing the same thing.  But also some counseling, those kinds of things.

Q.  You're almost a year into this here at Ohio State.  You'll be playing Penn State this week.  What has it been like for you trying to chart out Ohio State's territory in the recruiting areas you spent so many years at Penn State?
COACH JOHNSON:  It's going pretty good.  Actually, Maryland, same area, Maryland, Virginia, D.C.  The guys that know me know me.  I'm just walking in with a different color on.  I think they know the value I bring to the table and what I'm looking for recruiting‑wise.
Ohio State speaks for itself education‑wise and the program.  I'm not selling anything different, just selling something I really believe in.  I believe this is a great institution.

Q.  Any roadblocks or people that you've known?  Were there any challenges besides putting on a different color shirt?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, it's kind of exciting.  Ohio State has gone into Maryland a lot.  Not a lot of Virginia, Maryland players on the roster.  Now going in with Ohio State, it really helped because there's a lot of interest in us right now.

Q.  How unusual is it going to be to be on the visiting sideline, visiting locker room at that stadium this week?
COACH JOHNSON:  It will be different.  First time.  You spend 18 years at one place for a long time, then you walk back in there, different sideline, place you've been for 18 years.  But I'm looking forward to going back.  I'm looking forward to going back with Ohio State University.  I'm looking forward to going back and be excited to play in the stadium.

Q.  How has Steve Miller played the last few weeks?  Seemed like he got off to a slow start and has come on.
COACH JOHNSON:  Steve Miller, first‑time starter for us when I came in.  We talked about him this morning.  Really has done a great job.  He's a great worker.  That's what he brings to the table.  He'll play hard every snap.  He's smart.  He listens.  He does exactly what you tell him to do.  I think he played really well last week also.

Q.  You were there for 18 years.  Did you ever feel for teams that came in there?  What was it like, that atmosphere, from that sideline?
COACH JOHNSON:  It's pretty exciting.  It was a great student body, great fan base.  It will be loud.  We count on it being loud.  Our players, they went to another notch when they got to play in front of 108,000, white out, those kind of things.
It's going to be a great environment.  There's 108,000 here.  So that's fun to play in front of also.  I think our players will be jacked to go back in there again and play at Penn State.

Q.  What will you tell your guys about that environment?  How do you prepare for something like that?
COACH JOHNSON:  The best way to block the noise out is score points and play great defense.  If you do that, it will be pretty quiet.  Hopefully the selling point is going and playing well.  That's the key.

Q.  Is there a little bit of melancholy, too?  People thought you might be the head coach.  You were the interim head coach.  Did you leave there on good terms?  How do you feel you left the place?
COACH JOHNSON:  I left on my terms.  That's the good thing about it.  I thought it was time to move on.  Coach Franklin brought his staff in.  I didn't want to be the guy to be held over again.  I felt the best thing for me was to move on.
I found a great home.  I'm very happy here at Ohio State University.  Really look forward to the future here for many years.

Q.  Are you going to go see your old house?
COACH JOHNSON:  No, I'm not.  We sold it.  Got very lucky and sold it, about three weeks into the process.  I won't stop by.
I'm going to be in the hotel planning for the game.  I won't see anything, to be honest with you.

Q.  Have you been able to rotate on the defensive line like you had hoped coming into the season?  Has it been what you wanted or maybe not quite?
COACH JOHNSON:  We're close.  We're playing six, seven guys.  I am used to eight, nine.  It depends on the game, too.  We have some young players that have to get ready.  When you have good players, it's tough to take those guys out.  Right now I'm just trying to rest them.
You think about last week, Joey Bosa played 51 plays, opposed to playing 67 plays.  That's going to help us down the road.  Mike Bennett played 42 plays.  That's going to help us down the road.  We'd like to continue the rotation.  We just have to see, but we're going to rotate.

Q.  Asked Coach Meyer about the differences between Mike and yourself.  He thought you were very similar.  What is your approach to coaching young kids and what do you think the common denominator is there?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think we both do it different.  I think we're both technicians.  I think we're fundamentally sound in our coaching philosophy, what we believe in.
There's different ways to deliver a message to a player.  Mine might be a little different.  I am a developer.  I like to be closer to a player, develop a relationship.  I tell the guys all the time, I don't want to coach you, I want to invest in in you.  If I invest in you, at the end of the day when you get married and have your first kid, you'll call me and say, Coach Johnson, I just had my first kid.  That is an investment.  When you invest in them, they'll do anything in the world for them.  That's my march, try to make sure the players understand I trust them, believe in them, but I am also going to invest in them.

Q.  You coach a rugged brand of football, but in the pre‑season it would be like arranging the flowers.  A little bit different than maybe you might expect.
COACH JOHNSON:  That's kind of my style.  We just built a new home here.  I had a chance to get out in the yard, plant some flowers.  A way to get peace, think to myself.

Q.  Have you ever been in the opposing locker room at Penn State?
COACH JOHNSON:  I have not.

Q.  What do you expect?  Have you heard about it?
COACH JOHNSON:  I have heard about it.

Q.  What have you heard about it?
COACH JOHNSON:  It's very small (laughter).
Thanks, guys.

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