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August 29, 2012

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:  Certainly we've got a huge challenge to go to Blacksburg on Monday night and play against what, I think everybody knows, is a quality football team and great program.  Frank's done a great job building the program.  We've had a good camp.  I think that we'll be ready to play and kind of find out where we are.  We'll know where we stand after that game.

Q.  By opening with Virginia Tech, do you lose some of the advantage?  It's hard to get ready for the triple option.  It's hard to adjust to the three forward.  Do you lose some of that advantage by playing them first?
COACH JOHNSON:  I don't know.  I've never really bought into all that.  I think that you've got more time to get ready.  We have more time to get ready for them, so it works out pretty much the same.  I might be in the minority, but that part I've never really felt much about it or worried much about that.

Q.  How do you address with your guys the importance?  It's not just the conference game, but it's a division game and a game you probably need to win to reach a title game and it's the first one.  How do you address that with your guys?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think it's a long season.  Certainly it's an important game.  We want to win the game.  I don't know that whoever wins that game that the other team's out.  There are still seven other conference games to play and some good teams in our league.  So certainly gives you a leg up because it's a division game.  But our guys understand the importance.  They know how important the game is.

Q.  You sort of alluded to this a second ago.  A lot of people make a lot about having extra time to prepare for you guys.  I wonder what sort of advantage you've gained from having extra time to prepare for Virginia Tech.  I guess, what is the biggest challenge of preparing the face of a Frank Beamer coached team?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think you approach it just like you would any opening game.  We haven't changed the way we try to get ready to go play.  You get ready for the systems.  Certainly they've got a talented quarterback who is a great player.  And Coach Foster does a lot of things on defense.  They're very multiple, so it gives us a chance to cover a lot of different areas and things that they may do.
We may have a wrinkle or two that they haven't seen.  I think if you really looked up the stats and you went and looked, you'd find the extra time thing is a little more of a myth than you think it is.

Q.  Where are you looking for improvement defensively this year?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think there are a lot of areas, specifically third down.  Third down was a real sore spot a year ago.  We were in the bottom of the league, and when you can't get yourself off the field, that's going to lead to a lot of other statistics not being what you want them to have.
But the bottom line on defense is the points given up.  I mean, that is really, in a nut shell, what it's about.  In order to get there, if you're better on third down and you can get yourself off the field, then you should give up a few less points.
To do that, we've got to tackle better.  We've got to stay away from giving up big plays, and see if we can't get some pressure on the passer.

Q.  What do you like about the unit that you're putting out there this year?  Do you see them being able to do some things better than they did a year ago?
COACH JOHNSON:  You talking about on defense?

Q.  Yes, sir.
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, we're older.  I think we're predominantly junior and seniors.  They've played.  They've been in the system so.  So you just hope they're a little more comfortable with what they're doing so you can expand somewhat.  Like I said, we'll see.  Until you play a couple of games, you don't know where you are.  Can you play against yourself forever, and it's hard to tell sometimes.

Q.  You lost your two best targets from last year.  I'm wondering what the receiving corps is looking like now and who are the young guys that you expect to step up in that role?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, we've got a couple of young guys.  We've got two sophomores.  Darren Waller, 6'6", about 230.  Jeff Greene 6'5", about 215.  Jeremy Moore is a young man from Texas who has been hurt the last couple of years.  He's had a really good camp.  Those three guys and Chris Jackson is a guy that's played some.  Then we've got a couple of freshman that we'll play this year.
So we're going to be young, but I think the guys are physically talented and we'll see how they play Monday night.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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