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November 19, 2012

D.J. Johnson

Q.  What is the mindset of this team right now?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Getting a W, man.  Ending the season the right way.  Making sure that we go out with the win.

Q.  Did you have a frustrating Saturday?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Personally for me it was extremely frustrating.  Knowing that we haven't beaten those guys my entire career here.  It was difficult for me.  The frustration built up.  You could see it on the sidelines, and you could see it throughout the game.  Things went wrong real fast, you know what I mean?  When they went wrong, we tried to fight the adversity and tried to stay together and continue to fight, which we did continue to fight the entire game.  But unfortunately we weren't able to get it done.  We weren't able to come out with a win.  So it was extremely frustrating.

Q.  Can you talk about the team morale?  You guys seem literally tired right now and things of that nature.  Can you talk about the morale in the locker room and things of that nature?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I think it's more mental than physical.  I think physically we're in shape.  We're still ready to go.  If you watch the running backs, the way they run the ball, the way the receivers run the ball, and the way the defense runs the ball, physically we're there.  I think it's more mental.
I think those losses have weighed on us.  Then at the same time it's you not being in your position, so you're focused more on I need to be in this position.  You're thinking more than we were at the beginning of the season.  So I think we're a little more fatigued than any other aspect.

Q.  How do you turn that around?  Is that a conversation you'll have today or tomorrow as the senior leadership core?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Definitely.  We talked to Coach yesterday in the senior meeting.  I mentioned that we need to make sure we go out there and we have fun.  We let loose and we play.  We don't want to think too much.  I felt like I said, that's what we've been doing.  Just wanted to reiterate it to the guys in the locker room and the guys on the field, just let them know.  This is the last game of the season.  You can't hold anything back.  You can't be out there thinking too much.  You have to go out there, have fun, and play with aggression and effort.

Q.  What was it feeling like last season walking off the field after the Baylor game knowing that was it for you guys?
D.J. JOHNSON:  It was difficult, man.  Like I said, these years, knowing the capability of your team and not seeing it follow through, it's tough on any team.  You always have high expectations for your team.  But when you have as high of expectations as we had, it was difficult.
Last year we felt like we didn't perform at the greatest level at all.  On either side of the ball we weren't able to get the job done.  That's really what it was.  We couldn't get anything going.

Q.  Can you talk about getting a shot at them after their big win Saturday night?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I mean, I'm sure that's huge for them.  I'm sure it's huge (Indiscernible).
Once they attack it, the offense has been stopped a number of times or special teams were not able to perform as well.  So really I felt like that's just the situation when we're out there.  They may see something and they wait to attack until the second half.
As players, we have to make sure we do a better job of doing our technique and seeing and recognizing those things and making sure that we communicate with our coaches and let them know, hey, Coach, this is what is going on.  You know what I mean?  Then making sure we go out there and we correct it.

Q.  In two of the last three games, you guys were as deep as anybody (Indiscernible)?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Technique, man.  It's as simple as that.  We weren't doing what we were supposed to do.  It wasn't the scheme.  It wasn't the coaching.  It was players not making plays.  In the Big 12 you have to make plays.  You can't go out and play against good, great teams and not make plays and expect to win.  You have to go out there and do something that separates you from the rest and from every other team.  Unfortunately, we haven't been able to do that in these last couple games that we've lost.  We haven't gone out there and separated ourselves.  So we need to make sure we do that.  We have to go out there, as Neboh said, our corners have to make sure they cover.  Keep their eyes on the right spots.  Play their technique and stay on top of the ball.
Coach Kaufman always says we'll tackle the pass and stop the run, so we have to make sure we tackle the pass and not give up those huge, big plays that eventually lead to touchdowns or huge plays for touchdowns.

Q.  Last year the offense felt pressure because the defense was having trouble stopping the defense.  This year (Indiscernible)?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I mean that kind of goes without saying.  You kind of expect that, you know.  There are going to be games where the offense isn't as in tune as the defense.  And there are going to be games where the defense isn't as in tune as the offense.  So we have to battle for each other.
Of course there are some games or some plays where sometimes you feel like you're a little bit under pressure.  But what we do on the sidelines, we have to relax, and calm down and talk to each other and make sure that as a defense we stay on the same page continue to encourage the offense, because we know that eventually they're going to make a big play.  We have to trust them and make sure that we go out there, get a stop, and do what we can to help our offense get that momentum and get that drive back.

Q.  Did you think there was kind of a hangover when you guys played on Saturday, maybe standing back from the Kansas game, an overtime game that many thought we should have won pretty soundly?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I'm trying to understand that question.

Q.  Do you think going back to the Kansas game, was it a hangover as far as you guys came out against Oklahoma State maybe not as ready as you should have been, probably?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Yeah, I'm sure it did.  I'm sure it had something to do with it.  Mentally I feel like we were probably a little bit fatigued.  Like I said, going through those tough losses and having a tough game like that has been a tough stretch.  So I feel like we just have to get back to understanding the basics and make sure we go out there, have fun and play together.
Once we're able to do that again, I feel like we'll go ahead and get the W.

Q.  Can you talk about as a player, going in and playing on that big stage in Cowboy Stadium, what that's like for you?
D.J. JOHNSON:  That's a great experience, man.  That's fun.  Going in there and seeing that big old stadium, and the big old Jumbotron and everything, that's exciting.  Playing on that turf field, just seeing the crowd, you look up and see the lights and it reminds you of why you love the game when you go into that stadium and you step into that stadium.  Even if it's during the daytime when you go out there or whatever, sometimes the dome may be closed and you just see the lights flashing.  It's kind of like that Friday night lights type of feeling.  You see everybody in the stands and see cameras flashing and things like that.
It's a huge day.  It's an opportunity to show the world what you're capable of doing, and an opportunity to show what you're capable of and as a team how great you can be.  It's exciting, man.  It's fun to play on.

Q.  What is the personal highlight or memory that you'll take from this season that you'll tell maybe 20 years from now or 30 years from now?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Oh, man.  From this season?  That's a difficult one.  I would probably say either the Iowa State game or the West Virginia game.  The reason I would say the Iowa State game is that's a great team.  They're disciplined in every aspect.  They really understand.  They have great coaching and great athletes.
But to fight in that battle, man, that was a fun game this season.  To be able to go out there and be on the defense to get the stop for the win, the pressure be on the defense, that was just great.  You wouldn't want to have it any other way.
Then the West Virginia game.  Realizing and seeing the confidence, a little bit of conceitedness of the team because they were ranked so highly.  To be able to go out there and knock them off and get that cut, that initial cut going, that was fun.  That was fun to be a part of.
I have some great memories this season, and those are just two of them that I think of off the top of my head that I really enjoyed.

Q.  With all that's happened in the last few weeks, do you feel that you guys win this game and then you go on and are able to win a Bowl game.  Finishing with nine wins that that would be a successful season for you guys given where you were picked to start?  Can this still be a successful season despite the last few weeks?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Yeah, when you think about it, of course, we didn't exceed our expectations as a team in the locker room.  We weren't able to achieve what we wanted to achieve, but we exceeded a lot of people's expectations and done better than a lot of projections.  For us to go out there and get nine wins, that's huge for us.  It leads them into the next season anticipating that something good can happen.  It brings us back to where we were before that 5‑7 season, which is at a place where you know that Texas Tech has the capability of coming out and knocking some teams off and going out there and making things happen.

Q.  Going back to the running game, you and Cody Davis were leading (Indiscernible).  Did that take your responsibility away from being a safety?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I can definitely say honestly, personally, that I can honestly say it does have an effect.  There are a couple plays where you see Cody or myself where we've helped out on the run a little bit too much and not being over the top.  Personally, myself, I know sometimes I have to catch myself and remember that I'm a safety first.
So I have to make sure that I'm deep middle or making sure that I'm over the top of receivers or guarding my man and don't get caught up so much in the run as my linebackers and D‑line do their job.  So it's had some impact on my thinking and train of thought.

Q.  What do you tell your team as well as your linebackers (Indiscernible)?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I really tell them three plays.  If you think about it, you go all out for three plays.  That is third down, first down, second down, and third down and you're off the field.  If we can go out there, our D‑line can go out there and give it all they have for three plays as far as pass‑rush and making sure they stop the run and just trying to make something happen and doing their job for three consecutive hard‑fought plays, that's what we can do.
We may not have to come down and do that.  We'll be able to protect the pass a little bit more, so that's really just the focus that I have to reiterate to them.  I told them that at the beginning of the season, and I haven't really had to continue to reiterate it.  I'll reiterate it this coming game.

Q.  Does it help you guys being able to see Nick Florence coming into this game?
D.J. JOHNSON:  A little bit.  You anticipate what he's going to.  We know he likes to throw deep.  So I trust our corners.  I believe in our corners.  I know that what they're capable of doing is beyond what we've seen.  We haven't seen a lot of teams just go deep on us consistently.  So it's kind of one of those things to where when we play and we play a team and we've gotten beaten deep, they've lulled us to sleep.  They ran the ball, ran the ball, ran the ball, and unexpectedly it's a deep ball.  Then come back out on the first play of a drive or something like that, it's a deep ball.  It's kind of like‑‑ you know what I mean?
So for us, it's just making sure that our corners get back to understanding they can't be lulled to sleep.  Let them know that they are pass first.  They have to make sure that they stay over the top of everything.

Q.  After a game like Saturday and the struggles, what do you say to your team to focus?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Just tell him keep his head up.  People get scored on.  I don't know of any guys that are in college football that play cornerback that haven't been scored on.  So it's one of those things where you have to just brush it off.  You have to move on to the next game.  You can't do anything about it.  All you can do is watch film, learn from your mistakes and continue to try to get better and correct those mistakes.
I'd just tell him to keep his head up and continue to play his game.  Just make sure he works on his technique, stays over the top and plays smart football.

Q.  What do you remember kind of against Baylor last year playing against Florence when he came in and whatnot?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Losing.  Losing, that's about it.  Like I said, the deep ball, man.  He let it go.  I remember being in the middle of the field and I'd see a ball to the sideline and our corner is in perfect coverage, and he's still letting it go.  So that guy has confidence in his receivers.  That is the one thing that I really just remember from that game is his confidence in his receivers and his ability to throw the ball.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Man, I mean, I would love to be able to play one more time at AT&T.  But like I said, it's a great experience to be able to go down there and play one last time in the Cowboy Stadium as a senior in college.  And just to get that experience another team, that's huge.  I don't know if I would trade it.
But like I said, I would love to have that opportunity to play back in Jones AT&T Stadium.  But I take pride in being able to go down there and play in Cowboy Stadium.  That's really all I have to say about that.

Q.  In Cowboy Stadium, you're coming out of the tunnel, what one word do you tell your boys as you're going out on the field?
D.J. JOHNSON:  Effort.  That's been our motto from the beginning of the season, effort.  The reason I choose that word is because effort goes into a few different categories.  You can control your effort.  That is one thing that's really major.  You may not have control over whether the quarterback makes a great throw and you're still in position and you can't make that play.  But if you give effort, there is no telling what can happen.  It can be the perfect ball, but you're giving effort and you wind up knocking that ball out unintentionally or by mistake or you're on the defensive line and somebody breaks a run and they're getting ready to cut back.  Just because you're giving effort, you're able to make that tackle and you save a touchdown that could have won the game or something like that.
As a linebacker, you give effort and you see someone, a running back coming up in the hole or something and you're able to knock him off initially just for that split second to where he can't makethe quarterback can't make the read or can't make the pass to him or that screen or whatever and then run to the ball.
You get turnovers by giving effort.  If no one's at the ball, you don't get turnovers.  For me, for this team, the effort has been huge.

Q.  So you're happy with the effort that you're giving this year?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I'm definitely happy with the effort.  The things that we have issues with are technique.  We have technique issues.  There is never really a time that you see someone or a lot of people just not running to the ball or giving up on plays or anything like that.  The majority of the time it's just someone got beaten on technique and they weren't able to make that play.

Q.  Is that maybe a function of having a number of different coordinators over the past four years to you guys is that a function of that that you kind of look back at?
D.J. JOHNSON:  I can't really say.  Personally, for myself, you learn something different from each person.  Whether it be good, or it be bad, I've learned something from each coordinator and each coach that I've had, position coach and each position that I've played.
For me personally, it can be if you let it, if you allow it.  But if you're able to take the positives out of each coach and work it into something where you're able to‑‑ where it fits you, there is so much you can do.  You can do so much.  When you see something‑‑ for example, if I take something that I learned my freshman year that I hadn't learned, but I'm able to continue to grow on that or, for example, watching the tackling guard on runs, that's something that you may not have learned with other coaching staffs, but you learn with this coaching staff and you carry it on and become better, and better.  And you install key things like this guy puts his arm on his leg or his hand on his thigh when he passes or his elbow on his knee when it's run.  So something like that.
From each coach you take something different, it's just what you choose to do with it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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