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December 28, 2010

Tejay Johnson


Q. Was there an oddity, some strangeness for TCU to be here? It's kind of an unusual scenario which you end up in the Rose Bowl?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Not really. Just by last year, going to the Fiesta Bowl and everything, one of our goals was to get back to a game like this and get back to a BCS game.
Just the team's MO, you know, it was a goal of ours and it was kind of like a standard just because of last year and what occurred last year to get back to this point.

Q. This whole being on the field how much of that is in the minds of the players to finish undefeated? Is it something significant for your school?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yeah, it's very important to us. Just because to go undefeated in the regular season two times in a row is really hard to do by any college's standpoint. So we take a lot of pride in that.

Q. So what, at the end of the day, what kind of speed or power (Inaudible)?
TEJAY JOHNSON: We have a bit of a balance of both.

Q. Do you think they have that?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yes, they do. Watching their running backs, 28 and 20, and the tight end runs really well.

Q. I have a bunch of guys that can run. How much of a problem is that that you can't really key on one specific thing on there, it's a pretty diverse running game?
TEJAY JOHNSON: They do. When we game plan, and what I've observed from game planning is we don't necessarily game plan for one individual player. We game plan for the team and for the offense and what they do.
So I don't feel like it presents a great problem. Just individual players because of the game plan we have, and the players we have on defense.

Q. Compared to other teams that you've had to make calls against, how sophisticated are they?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I don't feel like they're very sophisticated. I feel like they're big on what they do and they execute what they do really well. So I feel like they just lineup and they run what they run.

Q. Do you think they'll just pound it at you and try to test you early?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I wouldn't be surprised. I feel like they'll probably have a balanced game plan for us. Just by the way that our defense is and the way the offense is that they'll have a pretty good game plan for us, not just all run, run, run.

Q. This is a team that they've scored 70 points and your defense is so stingy, you've had games where you've kept them out of the end zone. How do you see the collision going against your great defense and potentially explosive offense?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I feel like it is a great honor for us, the defense of what we've accomplished this season as well as previous seasons. I feel like it will be a well-matched game. I feel like it will be kind of a defensive game in our defense, and their defense is pretty good and just the offenses that we've had.

Q. Do you remember a time that you've walked off the field and said they're just better than we were?
TEJAY JOHNSON: No, not really (laughing).

Q. Even close?
TEJAY JOHNSON: None that I can recall. Just going out and playing in the defense that we play in and points allowed over the years and the points that we've given up, I feel like we've played even in the games we lost, we played really close with everybody that we've played against.

Q. When you said that is it was one game where he was a red shirt freshman, he was a young guy and the kids were bigger and stronger than he was, that was the only game he could remember was his red shirt freshman year?
TEJAY JOHNSON: That would be my true freshman year at BYU. Not too well. I didn't play that game.

Q. Do you expect that these guys are really going to be different, bigger and stronger than any of the teams that you've seen?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yeah, just watching them on film, they're really powerful; they're really explosive. They play really hard. I've visited with their head coach when we were at Disney a couple days ago, and he's a really good guy. So they say a team reflects the head coach, so I feel like they have a very well balanced team.

Q. What about their passing game? Everybody talks about their play action passing game. Your receivers, when you look at them on tape, who has jumped out at you?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Mostly No. 84, their tight end. I was saying earlier he reminds me a lot of a guy from BYU. With the size and the way he runs and the way he can go up and make plays on the ball.

Q. Everyone talks about the 4-2-5 that you guys run. In your opinion, why has it been so difficult for teams to solve?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I ran the 4-2-5 in high school as well. So that was one of my main reasons for picking TCU. Just the way that Coach Patterson schemes the 4-2-5 and game plans for teams, I think that's what makes it difficult. It's a pretty sophisticated defense to learn, and you have to really know what you're doing in order to execute it.
So just the way that Coach P. has evolved throughout the years. Everybody has been great.

Q. What is your role? Are you the guy that gets everyone aligned? What is your role?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yeah, I think I am. As the free safety you make a lot of calls and a lot of ticks depending on what you're given by from the offense and the call that is made. But as a weak safety, you make a lot of calls as well, so you kind of have to play off of the other side of the field and what they're playing and try to match it.

Q. Is the weak safety spot one that is kind of the hybrid? Traditionally you've got a strong free. What is the weak?
TEJAY JOHNSON: The weak is actually a mixture of the strong getting the free. He'll go down and play like a linebacker or a strong safety and play back at free safety at times.

Q. So it seemed like you guys weren't necessarily defensive players in high school, not necessarily big-time recruits, but it seemed that you built on speed and figure out the rest later?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yeah, what I've noticed from like just recruiting is that the coaches recruit people, good people, people who can run and who are pretty athletic. Once we get to TCU, the fit is made. Some people you'll stay in your position, and some people you're not just working out at that position, but you can be used at this position and be a better player at this position.
I first noticed it like when I first came in and Stephen Hodge, they told me he came in as a quarterback. He was at that point like a 225 pound safety. So I just kind of took notice to the way that the system was run throughout my years, and I can pretty much call them, okay.

Q. Most guys that come in, even though it's the reputation of the program, are some guys resistant to that? They see themselves one way and coaches see them another way?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yeah, you have those guys that come in. For example, we have you a freshman, he's about 6'2", about 215, and he's pretty thick. He's content to playing wide receiver, and I told him you're playing safety. He's really adapted to safety and really starting to like it.
And that is the thing with our players, you know, they're trying to get on the field. So wherever the coaches put them, once they finally realize this is where they have the best chance at playing, they really when they go in to accept it, they start to work hard at it and turn out to be great players.

Q. How much does that help you get a lot of guys, with ball skills and being on offense? How much of it is for the background?
TEJAY JOHNSON: It helps a lot. You have those guys who think they're receivers, and they have a few moves and great feet, along with that you know they have pretty good hands in order to go up and catch the ball as far as defending.

Q. How much do you guys have to make your own calls?
TEJAY JOHNSON: It depends on who we're playing, the game plan.

Q. What about your match-up of speed against their size? You know, the safeties have to help out?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Just throughout the year, the way our defenses run our safeties, generally like the second or third leading tacklers on the team. So we're used to being involved into the run and everything. With our speed, we just have to make sure our speed, like we keep leverage with our speed and are able to make tackles once we get there to the ball.

Q. How much larger does it make the field for you to have to defend when you're having to watch the run and Wisconsin likes to pound it. But also, they'll pop one out with the tight end and that is right in your area.
TEJAY JOHNSON: Playing throughout the year, playing in the Air Force for the last couple of years and the way our coach prepares us, it's really not as big as it seems, the field just from the run/pass standpoint. We just have to make sure we keep our eyes in the right place and make sure we stay disciplined.

Q. What makes Tank unique as a linebacker? What does he give your team, not just on the field, but in terms of all around?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Tank is a great player. He's also a great person, you know. Pretty funny as well. He's always one of the jokesters, you know, always has something fact or something like that to share with us growing up he was one of those BMX bikers and everything.
So he's one of those guys that likes to show off what he can do sometimes, you know, (laughing) he's just -- it's just really great to have a player like that. When most people are uptight and everything, he's the one that calms everybody down and kind of like a comic relief at some points. Everybody's uptight, and he'll give everybody something to smile about and laugh at. So that is really his contribution.

Q. Any particular examples of that come to mind?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Every time I'm asked to think of something off the top, I just go blank (laughing). I cannot think of anything at this point.

Q. Let me ask you about Scott Tolzien, the Wisconsin player, what makes him different from the other players that you've faced this season?
TEJAY JOHNSON: He's pretty good. The way he reads, I feel like he reads defenses pretty well in order to make his checks as a quarterback and put his team in the best situations possible.

Q. There is so much talent in the state of Texas, I see in Pac 10, and those guys how did you guys get passed up by Texas, Oklahoma, the Texas Tech's of the world? How do you end up at TCU?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I'm really not sure. I was once told when I was asking about recruiting and everything, most people recruit on potential. So when they see someone they don't see as having as much potential as somebody else, they go after that other person.
So when you get Texas and Oklahoma, that's most of the time people's first choices. When you get like most of those schools they don't really recruit three and two-star recruits and everything.
So TCU does a good job of spotting that potential in those players that get, what some would say, overlooked.
I mean, me personally, it TCU was actually my choice. It was my first choice because of the program they had. I had the offers from Texas Tech and the Big 12 and some SEC schools, ACC schools.

Q. Do you think at times the big schools sort of get caught up and, well, we could have a better recruiting ranking than so and so? And sometimes they recruit off lists instead of actually seeing what guys can do on the field?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I'm not sure. I'm not in the room with them when they're recruiting and looking at players and everything. So I wouldn't be able to answer that accurately.

Q. It's interesting that you said TCU was your first choice. I know for a lot of guys, I cover USC for my day job, and if you're not recruited by USC or UCLA, and you're an L.A. guy, they sort of have their chip on their shoulder. Does this team have a chip on their shoulder because how many guys would have been offered by Texas or think that it sort of starts there? And that's why you guys are so tenacious and aggressive in the way you play?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I think our team and some of our players just want to show the world what we can do. Go out and play hard and be physical and be the best that we can be. Coach P really pounds that into our heads and everything and really motivates us to play hard and play well.
Just being at TCU, just being looked at as a small school and school that doesn't belong, I feel like that's the reason why we kind of play with a chip on our shoulder and go out and get it every week.

Q. Does that motivate you even more playing a big team from a big conference?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Yes, kind of. We don't really look at ourselves as like a little school anymore. Just because of what we've done in the past and up until this point last year with the Fiesta Bowl, and this year we're in another BCS game, playing in the Rose Bowl. We just have to go out and work and prove that we're supposed to be where we're at.

Q. TCU is making the move to the Big East, can you see this becoming a Florida State of the '90s or USC of this last decade where every year TCU is in a BCS Bowl or in the mix for a National Championship?
TEJAY JOHNSON: I can definitely see that with the staff, and getting young players ready. I can definitely see the program growing week after week and playing great teams and getting up.

Q. Are you ever surprised that bigger schools haven't come after Coach Patterson and tried to get him away from TCU?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Actually I am. I was talking to one of the players the other day and I was like why isn't Coach P coaching in the league. I have a high respect for Coach Patterson and what he does, just watching him and the passion that he has for the game.
It's a really big motivator for us as a team, especially me as a defensive player as one of his defensive players, you know, just the drive that he has and the passion that he has for us players in the game.

Q. How much are you looking forward to this game?
TEJAY JOHNSON: Really excited. I woke up this morning and I was like, you know, it's only Tuesday. I'm like Saturday seems so far away. Just listening to the players and coaches, everybody's very excited and we can't wait to get out there.

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