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October 10, 2018

Paul Johnson

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAUL JOHNSON: Good morning. We're looking forward to being back home and having a chance to play a really good Duke team. I think that Coach Cut has done a really nice job there. They're really, really good defensively. They run to the ball, play hard, and when they have their quarterback in there, they present a lot of problems offensively, as well.

Q. Coming off the offensive performances and the wins the last couple weeks, obviously the opponents haven't been South Florida or Clemson, but what can you discern from what the improvement has been in terms of your offense versus maybe the caliber of the opponent you're playing?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think Clemson is Clemson. You mentioned South Florida. We had 600 yards on South Florida and 38 points. We just didn't get enough to win the game.

You know, I think we've played better, we're executing at a little higher level, and it'll be a challenge this week. This will be the best defense we've played for sure since Clemson, and they're really good in their own right.

Q. What have you liked about Marshall's play in recent weeks?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think he's limited his mistakes and played within the system, and he's got good ability. He's quick, and he's made good decisions, and when we play with no turnovers and no penalties, we can be pretty effective.

Q. I've heard some of your colleagues say that they sleep better during seasons in which they're pretty confident that they have a quality backup quarterback. Does Tobias give you that comfort?
PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, he's a good player. He's played well every time we've asked him to go in, and I think he's just going to continue to get better and better the more he plays. I feel good about both those guys, absolutely.

Q. Just to follow up what you said about Duke, when you look at them on film, what impresses you that has made you impressed with them?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think their talent level has gotten better each year. Certainly their two linebackers, really they've got three linebackers that are all good players. The Harris kid and the Humphries kid have been playing for a long time. They've played against us a bunch.

I think that their team speed is much better. They've got guys up front that can get pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz, and it just looks like when you watch them play, they understand their scheme, and they play fast, which is what you want with a defense.

Q. You mentioned the guys from Duke who have played a long time. So, too, has Parker Braun played for you. How has he improved specifically this season and perhaps even bringing leadership to that line given his experience?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think the biggest thing, he's just a year older and stronger. He's always been a pretty good player. He has to play within himself sometimes. He gets a little outside because he likes to compete so much.

But you know, he's got a good skill set, and he's tough. He's fearless, and he likes to play the game. I think the longer he plays, the more he becomes aware of defenses and understanding what they're trying to do and all those kind of things, and he's been a really good player for us ever since he played as a freshman really.

Q. You mentioned getting outside of himself; how does that manifest during a game?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, what I'm talking about about that is he may go after -- he gets in his mindset he's trying to get somebody and he becomes too physical or too out of control. When he plays within himself and plays in control, he's really good. He just can't allow himself to get out of control. He plays nasty. That's a better way to put it. He gets after you.

Q. Where do you feel like your defense has made improvements over the last couple weeks?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think we're getting better. I think the kids are starting to understand a little bit. We've had some issues on 3rd down, and that's something we're trying to work hard on. I think that that's right now the biggest issue over there, still having too many missed assignments. But I think the more they play, the better they're going to get. So we've got a lot of young guys over there, and I think we're finally starting to get to the point where we're kind of settled on who we want to play with, and I expect that they're going to get better as we finish it out, and certainly they're going to have to.

Q. Talk about Daniel Jones from Duke, talk about his development, how he's played the last couple years. Does he look like he's much improved this year? I know he's coming off an injury.
PAUL JOHNSON: Right. I thought he played well last year. He's a good player. He's got good size. He's a dual-threat guy. He can hurt you running the ball as well as throwing the ball. I think probably the thing that's most impressive with him is he doesn't usually make mistakes. I think he understands what he's doing. He understands defenses, and he operates their system at a high level. I think he's a really good player.

Q. Talk about last week when you guys played Louisville. What did you like about your team? You played on a Friday night. Do you feel like your team is finally making that turn to finally go in a positive direction?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think we've played better the last two weeks, especially offensively. But I thought we got off to a good start. Defensively we got a couple turnovers and were able to capitalize and get ahead in the game, and as well as we were playing on offense, once we got up 21-0, they were going to have a hard time catching up because we weren't missing a turn. It was a good way to start the game, and hopefully we can continue to get better and continue to execute at a high level the way we have the last two weeks. Certainly the defense this week will be a little better.

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