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August 28, 2013

Paul Johnson

PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Good morning, I hope everybody's doing well.テつ We are excited to finally get started.テつ I think that we have had a productive camp.
For the most part, you try to balance getting ready to play with keeping everybody healthy.テつ I think we are okay on that end and excited to have chance to play a game and see where our football team is right now.テつ Been really pleased with the way the guys have worked, and you know, looking forward to Saturday.テつ It can't get here fast enough for us.

Q.テつ Just a quick question on Justin Thomas.テつ I noticed he was banged up.テつ Do you have any sense of whether he might be able to play on Saturday?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, we think he's going to play.テつ He's going to practice today, and he only missed a couple days of practice.テつ It was just kind of a bruise.テつ So he should be good to go.

Q.テつ Can you talk a little about what your defense has looked like in preseason, that scenario where you made some strides last year, you have a lot of people back.テつ Has it solidified?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think so.テつ You never know until you play somebody else.テつ I think like all phases of the football team, they have had good and bad days, and where the offense couldn't do much, and vice versa.
It's always good when you play another team.テつ I think you get a better idea where they are.テつ We are excited about the defense and what Coach Roof and Coach Pelton and some of the new guys have brought to the table.テつ I know our kids are enjoying playing for them and there seems to be a lot more enthusiasm and a lot more effort going on out there than maybe we have had in the past.

Q.テつ Is there any fundamental change in the way you play within this new defensive scheme?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ You know, we are going to base out of a 4‑3 alignment, but we played the last half of the season that way, as well.テつ There's only so many ways that you can line up 11 guys, so there's no rocket science involved in that.テつ It's just playing your technique, running to the ball and playing with effort.テつ That part, those things have all gotten better I think since the spring and moving forward to this fall.テつ But you still have to play in the game, so we'll see.

Q.テつ I always ask you about this, but being from up here in Durham, can you talk about Vad and how he's looked in preseason?テつ Is he going to carry the load this year, as opposed to last year when you kind of rotated?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, you know, Vad has had a really good camp and we are excited about what he brings to the table.テつ He's certainly a gifted athlete and tremendously hard worker.テつ I think he wants to be good.テつ We are excited to watch him play.
Right now, he's our starting quarterback and how we play those guys, we really haven't got a set plan.テつ I think Justin Thomas is also a very good player, and so we'll just kind of play it by feel.
We don't have any plans, or I have no plans to rotate series or play guys in and out.テつ We'll do whatever we feel like it takes for us to win the games and what gives us the best chance.
Just like the defense, looking forward to watching the offense play and Vad and some of those younger guys and see how much better they have gotten.

Q.テつ One question about your receiver is I know you've got a couple injuries, a couple suspensions there.テつ What are you hoping to see out of the group that you're going to have available to you on Saturday?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I think Michael Summers would have probably started, anyway.テつ So we have got one of our starters, a redshirt freshman.テつ Darren Waller will sit out; he would have been the other starter.
But we have got some guys.テつ We have got some young guys to play and I expect the same thing out of those guys I would if Darren was playing.
Young man, DeAndre Smelter who came out off a baseball team who was a very highly‑recruited football player coming out, threw a 94‑mile‑an‑hour fastball and was drafted in the fifth round of the Major League Draft and decided not to play football (sic) is back out there and he's had some really good practices and we are excited to watch him play.
I think we have got probably five or six young guys that are going to be pretty good players.テつ In fact, I feel like that that group can be as good as we have had here in a while.テつ I don't know that we have a Bay‑Bay Thomas or Calvin Johnson in the group right now, but I think overall, they are plenty good enough to do what we need them to do.

Q.テつ Why do you think the group can be as good as you've had?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I just think there's more depth, and one through five, we have got guys I think we can play in the game, where in the past maybe there have been one or two guys that are just head and shoulders better than the other guys.
You know, certainly there's a couple guys that may fit that bill before we are finished.テつ As I've said all along, when Darren gets out there, I mean, he's a 6‑6, 230‑pound guy that can really run.テつ Michael Summers can run.テつ DeAndre Smelter is a guy who has a ton of ability.
So one of those guys might blossom into something special.テつ But it's nice to have four or five of those guys who you can play in case one gets dinged or one gets hurt.

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