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October 31, 2012

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:  I tell you, it's a really tough challenge, I think, going to play against a Maryland defense that's not only really good in rushing defense, as you said, but they're good in total defense and scoring defense as well.  I think Randy has done a great job coaching this year, coming through all the adversity they've had with injuries on the other side and all those things.
We'll need to play a lot better than we did a week ago.  We played against another defense that was pretty good, and they lived up to the billing and we didn't hold up our end.  So it will be a challenge.  It's a little bit of a challenge trying to prepare for them because we haven't seen the quarterbacks on tape.  You just have to kind of guess which direction they're going to go with him.  Also they have a new defensive coordinator that we haven't played against.  So lot of challenges, but looking forward to having an opportunity to go play again this week.

Q.  You mentioned the difficulty in preparing for their offense because you haven't seen and there is no tape on this guy, and you don't know exactly what parts of their package they're going to be able to put in.  So how do you practice against what you think they might do?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think we have to try to make sure that we shore up our end, the things that we haven't done well.  They're going to run part of their package.  We just don't know which they'll highlight.  So we have to guess a little bit, just be prepared.  Part of playing defense is hopefully you have a scheme that you can lineup and play and be sound no matter what they do.
I'm sure the young man is a good athlete, and he'll have a set of skills.  Maybe we have to adjust on the fly.

Q.  Conversely from your offensive standpoint, where do you‑‑ what kinds of things do you need to do to get back?
COACH JOHNSON:  Third down a week ago was awful.  We didn't convert any third downs.  It was a funny game because there weren't a lot of possessions.  The other team managed to hold the ball, and we scored once on defense and once on special teams.  We had the ball maybe eight possessions.  We missed a field goal, kicked a field goal.  We couldn't stay out there and convert third downs.  If you don't convert third downs, you're not going to be on the field long enough to get any rhythm going.

Q.  I know that you got Vad in the game last week and are facing a decision there at quarterback.  Just wondering what he's been able to do for your offense and what the competition has been like out there at practice?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think that Vad's a good athlete.  We're certainly excited about him.  He's going to play some on Saturday.  We haven't decided yet in what role and exactly how that's going to be.  We've still got a couple days of practice, and that will determine to a large part what happens.

Q.  What's the competition been like with him and Tevin this week?
COACH JOHNSON:  It hasn't been any different than it has any week, really.  They get along.  They try to help each other out.  They try to make each other better.

Q.  Has it lit a fire under Tevin at all?
COACH JOHNSON:  I don't think so.  Not any more so than normal.  Tevin's not been a problem practicing and those kind of things.  He usually comes to work.

Q.  Just to follow up on that, what do you need to see out of one of these quarterbacks in practice, or what do you need to see out of one of them in the game to think, "okay, that's exactly what I'm looking for"?  That is the guy, this is what I need.
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, you want somebody that can not only run the system and do what you're doing, but also maybe that can provide a spark and some big plays.  I think what gets lost and we struggled a little bit record wise this year, and it's not up to what we'd like or expect is the fact that in spots, Tevin hasn't played that poorly.  He's done some good things.  It's kind of highlighted when you're not winning when you struggle a little bit.  So therefore he's under that microscope.
Certainly Vad's a little bigger and a little faster with a stronger arm, and right now doesn't have as good of working knowledge in the system and the experience that he has.  So it's kind of a tradeoff with what you go with.

Q.  Whichever quarterback you pick will be facing a Maryland defense that I don't think has given up more than 20 points in a game in quite some time I guess.  What challenge does that defense pose for you as you look at them on film?
COACH JOHNSON:  As you said, they're really good on defense, and they haven't given up over 20 points in a long time.  I think they've got good down guys.  Vellano's certainly one of the best play ares in the conference.  The linebackers are really good.  You couple that with two pretty good corners, and that is the ingredients to have a good defense.  They played well, and it will be a challenge for us no question.

Q.  You're going up against a guy, Joe Vellano that a lot of people think is the best defensive tackle in this league.  Can you talk about him and what you have to do, the problems he presents?
COACH JOHNSON:  He got my vote a year ago when he had 16 tackles out here against us when we played.  But I think that you just try to neutralize him.  He's a good player.  He's going to make plays.  You try to be in a position to help double him or help chip on him when you can.  It will be a challenge to our offensive line.  They know who he is and are aware of what he's done.  He's a good player.  You're not going to completely stop a player like that.  He's going to make plays.

Q.  I wondered if you've been in touch with Jonathan Dwyer.  He got a chance to play in Pittsburgh and has obviously been playing very well?
COACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, Jonathan was here a couple weeks ago.  He was here at a game and around.  We're excited for him now that he's finally getting this opportunity and making the most of it.  So it's great.  We're proud of Jonathan.

Q.  Is it me or does he look a lot bigger now?  Has he put on weight to play for them?
COACH JOHNSON:  He's probably a little bigger than he was here.  He's probably a little better proportioned too.  So I'm sure he's worked hard.  Jonathan's a competitive kid, and I'm sure he's done what he had to do to get on the field and be successful.

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