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September 12, 2012

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:  Good morning.  It was good to get back home last week, get back out on the field and play after what was a really tough game in Blacksburg on a Monday night.  So got another tough conference game this week, a division game.  One that is at home with a team that beat us a year ago on the road.  So Virginia comes in undefeated and it looks like a really quality football team, so we'll have a real challenge in front of us this Saturday.

Q.  I've asked you this before about Vad Lee, and he obviously got a chance to play Saturday and put up some pretty impressive numbers.  Can you just evaluate how he did, and is it something that might mean more playing time in the future?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, Vad played well Saturday.  I mean, I think he's got a tremendous upside, and we've said that all along.  We're excited that he's here.  He continues to improve every day.  As he improves, his playing time will increase.  I don't have any set plans to use him this week, per se.  But I'm not going to say he won't play either.  So we'll just kind of see how the game goes.  I think he's got a bright future.
He's got a lot of things he needs to work on like a lot of guys.  But I think we're excited that he's on our team.  I think he's going to be a really good player.

Q.  One other thing I wanted to ask is when you're in a game where you're so clearly superior as you were Saturday, is it dangerous or possible to avoid or pick up bad habits or do things because it's coming so easily, or is that something in times that you can experiment and work on things?  How do you deal with that?
COACH JOHNSON:  I thought that for the most part at least defensively we came out ready to play and played well.  We had some hiccups offensively, but you know I think when our guys watch the tape, they understood that we didn't play all that great.  Sometimes the physical mismatches can cover up technique problems and areas where you need to do things better.  So we're still a work in progress and continuing to try to work fundamentals and get our systems down.

Q.  Coach, just wondering what your reaction is to the news about Notre Dame joining the league?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I really haven't had a lot of time to adjust to exactly all of the details and all of that.  Certainly Notre Dame is a storied program with a lot of rich history and tradition.  I was fortunate at Navy we played them every year, and they're a class outfit, so I think it will be a positive for our league.

Q.  Is it kind of a bummer that they didn't join for football all the way?
COACH JOHNSON:  I really haven't even had time to look and see.  We're buried here trying to get ready for Virginia.  So I haven't had time to see exactly how all of that will unfold.

Q.  When you were at Navy you were playing them every year.  Can you talk about what it is to go in there and play?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think at Navy it was different because we played them every year.  It was always a big game.  Any time you went into South Bend to play, it was a special deal.  We played our home games in different pro venues.  I mean, we played them in FedEx, or we played them in New York one year and different places.
It was always a game.  It was a great challenge for our guys.  When I got are there, Navy hadn't beaten Notre Dame since 1963, and we went on a little spell where we got them three out of four years there.  So it was my last year and then the next two, I think, they got them.  It was an exciting, fun game.

Q.  How do you feel about them other than the non‑conference game?
COACH JOHNSON:  Again, I think when they get all the details worked out and I see what it's all about, I'm sure it will be exciting.  You know you're going to get a national reputation team and a quality opponent and a team that tries to do things the right way.

Q.  You've got a start from Zach Laskey at running back.  What does he bring to your offense?  What do you like about him?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, Zach's got good quickness.  I think he's got pretty good feet, and he's probably got better speed than people give him credit for.  He had a really good camp.  He kind of earned it.  He ran the ball well.  We've got to do a better job blocking than some of the other intangibles, but I was pleased with him.  I think that he brought some good stuff to the table and it's been necessary.  Because David Sims who was a starter a year ago has really been banged up and hasn't been healthy all year.

Q.  Also about Virginia, what impresses you about them in particularly from watching their quarterback Michael Rocco?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think they're big and physical on both lines of scrimmage.  Last year they beat us up up there.  I give them credit.  They got after us.  So that's going to be our challenge.  We've got to see if we can stand in there toe‑to‑toe with them and do a little better job than we did a year ago.
We were feeling awfully good about ourselves up there a year ago when we went in there 6‑0.  So we need to buckle our chinstraps and be ready to play on Saturday.

Q.  What have you noticed about Rocco?
COACH JOHNSON:  He's very efficient.  He's completing over 60% of his throws.  They do a good job of mixing it up on offense and protecting him.  He's played very well for them.

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