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October 26, 2016

Paul Johnson

Greensboro, North Carolina

COACH JOHNSON: Good morning. We're excited to get back into game week. I think our bye came at a good time and we've gotten some people back and healed up and we're probably as healthy as we've been in a while.

Certainly we are going to have to play well against a good Duke team. They have had our number the last couple years, so we're looking forward to having a chance to seeing if we can't play a little better than we did the last two times we played.

Q. You were asked on Monday if Duke playing Army early in the season helped and at the same time, you know each other well from playing each other every year. Can you elaborate on how Duke playing Army might help them prepare for y'all?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it gives them some similar schemes and so similar alignments. But we've played each other enough that they kind of know what we do, and we have some semblance of an idea of what they are going to do.

So you've just got to -- it's who out-executes who, really.

Q. Ultimately is it a speed thing that kind of helps; that they have seen this at a speed run by a team that's proficient in it, as opposed to a scout team that's still trying to figure it out?
COACH JOHNSON: I would think that would be beneficial, yeah.

Q. You guys have dominated the series until the last two years, the games that they had won. Were there any common threads in those two games of particular problems that they caused you that you look for to solve this time around?
COACH JOHNSON: I think last year they just beat us. The year before we turned the ball over a bunch down here. Probably had more yards and more stuff than they did but we turned the ball over. And last year up there, we got behind. They ran a kickoff back on us and then moved the ball really well and shut us down offensively. We didn't play very well.

So you know, I think last year, they just beat us, and the year before, we kind of helped them with some turnovers, but they played well, too.

Q. Sort of evaluate where your freshmen runner, Dedrick Mills is. He's got ten touchdowns in the six games he's played, he's ranked among the top ten in the conference in rushing yards per game. Just how is he adapting, or has he adapted so far and what would you like to see out of him the remainder of this season?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think Dedrick has played well. I think we are better at that position than we were a year ago for sure, with he and Marcus Marshall and a couple guys. You've just got to continue to grow and continue to work.

I think he's got a bright future. He's a strong kid and he likes to play pretty, pretty hard to tackle and got good vision. Marcus Marshall is playing much better now, so he's going to -- we need to get him more reps and get him out there some because he's made some plays when he got a chance.

Q. What were some of the things that you really honed in on during the bye week that you want to get better here in the last half of the season?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, we got back the fundamentals at the start of the bye week a little bit but we have to jump start on game planning for Duke.

You know, we've got to do better on third downs. We can do better offensively, and we have to certainly do better on third downs defensively and get off the field some. That's been something we've talked a lot about, and you know, you just try to get better at all facets. We've actually thrown the ball fairly decent the last two games. We've got to continue to do that, make some plays and hopefully we can get our running game going a little bit better. It's not up to par for what we need to be.

Q. Why do you feel that is?
COACH JOHNSON: I think we're getting better. We are just having established -- we can kind of dominate with our running game and people know what we are doing and we can still first downs and do that kind of thing, and other than a couple games, I really haven't felt like we were there this year.

Q. Is that more due to what's happening up front or still some of the inexperience with your backs?
COACH JOHNSON: I think it's probably a little bit of all of it but we've probably settled in on the offensive line now a little more and we've got all those guys back healthy. This is the first week I think we've had the whole contingent of offensive linemen that could play in quite a while. Hopefully that will help some, as well, give us some depth.

We've got a couple of true freshmen starting up there. They are going to have some growing pains.

Q. Syracuse pushed 3:30, four hours because of the no muddle. What are your thoughts on those longer games, pushing the 3:30, four hours, and will you prepare differently for a game that might inch closer to four hours versus a shorter game, maybe pregame-meal-closer-to-kick type thing?
COACH JOHNSON: Not really. We haven't experienced a four-hour game or three and a half our game. I think the nature of what we do, doesn't matter if the team is no-huddle or not. We are probably not going to have one less we stay on the field. But I think to each their own and certainly they are successful doing it. It's just not something that I think gives us the best chance to win.

Q. You said the whole contingent of offensive linemen are back. Does that mean that Clock is back in practice?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, we'll release it on Thursday, but we expect to have most everybody available.

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