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August 31, 2011

Paul Johnson

PAUL JOHNSON: Good morning. I'll tell you, it seems like it's been an eternity since we last played, so we're excited about getting the season started, especially happy to be at home and playing on Thursday night. I think it ought to be a great atmosphere, and looking forward to kicking off and putting last year behind us.

Q. I just wanted to ask you to give us a little update on how our Durham kid is doing, Vad Lee.
PAUL JOHNSON: Vad has had a really good camp. He's come in, he's probably well ahead of where we thought he might be. We're excited about him. I think he's very talented. We haven't really made a decision yet on whether we're going to play him this year or not. He's certainly on our travel squad and will dress. We're going to have to make that decision here pretty quickly. But he's done great. We're really excited about Vad.

Q. And to change the subject just a little bit, I've been doing a story asking every coach about place kicking because the ACC is coming into an era of amazing place kicking. Last year you had one of the best in Scott Blair, and now you've got to replace him. Can you tell us what the situation is there?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, right now Justin Moore will be our kicker. He's a young man we recruited a year ago. He was probably one of the top kickers in the state of Georgia at Marist High School, and he kicked a little bit last year, kicked off a couple times and really backed up Scott Blair. Justin will be the guy starting tomorrow night.

Q. How much were you involved with the football program when you were at Western Carolina?
PAUL JOHNSON: Not very much at all, hardly any with the football program when I was in school there. I knew a lot of the guys that were on the team, but that was about it.

Q. Was that during the Bob Waters era?
PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, Coach Waters was the coach there then.

Q. Where did you actually get your start in coaching?
PAUL JOHNSON: I went back -- my first coaching job was back at my high school, back at Avery County High School, when I graduated from Western.

Q. I have a question about Kevin Washington. Can you kind of talk about some of the things that you've seen him doing in camp that have met or exceeded your expectations so far?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think Kevin has had a great off-season. He had a really good summer, and he's come into camp and kind of emerged as one of the leaders by example. I think he worked hard. I think he's improved his passing ability, his throwing game. I think he's more comfortable with what we're doing. Just being a year older and having done it a little while longer is helpful. We're excited about what he's going to bring this season.

Q. I was wanting to ask you, over the last few years your D-back position has been very productive, and I understand there's been quite a competition there. Can you kind of sort that out for me?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, David Sims will start tomorrow night. I think that he's earned that through the summer and camp, but it's really close. You've got Preston Lyons, who backed up last year, and Preston is I think a quality player. You've got a young red shirt freshman, Charles Perkins, that we're really excited about, and then Richard Watson has also been a backup. You've kind of got a senior, a junior, a sophomore and a freshman all kind of battling it out.

Q. I was just wondering with what's gone on at the University of Miami in relation to the NCAA, has that been a lesson to you and your team, and have you spoken to your team about boosters and used what's happened to Miami as a way to approach the subject at all?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, we speak to our team all the time about boosters. We have not discussed Miami with our football team. But we talk about that all the time. It's an ongoing deal.

Q. Do you think about what it would be like for a coach to walk into that their first season?
PAUL JOHNSON: No, I can't imagine. I understand kind of what he's going through. It's a tough deal. I think Al is a tough guy, and he'll get through it.

Q. Where are the strides that you're looking for from your defense, and how do you think they've progressed at this point?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think we're a pretty young team, but if we do have some experience we've got more on defense than offense. We've got five of the front seven backs, been in the system for a year, and like anything, hopefully the points per game is going to come down and we'll create a few more turnovers and do some of those things.
I've been encouraged by what I've seen in camp and practice, so hopefully this translates to the field. We feel like we're as athletic as we've been in the secondary, as well. There's some young guys back there, but we feel like they're very athletic, so I'm anxious to see us play somebody else and see how we do.

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