“I mean, he's Leonard Fournette,” Johnson said. “He's a good player, but we face a lot of good players.”
The treasured LSU running back has turned heads in college football, and may make a well-anticipated appearance in The Swamp after suffering an ankle sprain that kept him out of the big win over Missouri last weekend.
With Fournette on the field or not, this is just another game for Kylan Johnson. He says their running game may be strong, but the Gator defense is strong as well. He said anything that needed cleaned up from Vanderbilt will be fixed and ready to go on Saturday. It will be a good battle.
“We're just going to go out there and play the game,” Johnson said. “We're going to try to stop the run... No, we are going to stop the run just like any other team that we'll play against.”
As a former safety, the red-shirt freshman has worked his way into the rotation at linebacker. Coming in at 6-foot-1 220 pounds, Johnson has the speed, coverage skills, and mass to play the rough and tumble position. Although Johnson has never played linebacker in his life before this season, he and the team both believe that switching positions was a great decision.
“I was already kind of a big safety coming in,” Johnson said. “And being with Coach Shannon, Coach Shannon thought it was a good idea because we were low on linebackers last year. So it was a good idea to put me down and play linebacker. I really like it. It's kind of fun. Probably one of the best decisions that I've made.”
Johnson said Coach Shannon, Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone took him under their wing throughout his transition.
“They just pushed me with everything,” Johnson said. “They talked to me. They kind of walked me through the process. We got some extra work in the film room and stuff and like the extra things that I'm going to have to read because linebacker is way different from safety where you just have to read the tackle -- high hat or low hat. It was different. I had to learn a lot, and they really helped me."
With a new view on the field, Johnson gets to observe the transforming defensive line due to many recent injuries. He said the younger defensive linemen have recently stepped up to play and have prepared as if they’ve been at Florida for three or four years. Johnson said some are emerging and surprising him.
"All of them. Everybody stands out."
There are still many questions as we head into the big conference matchup with LSU concerning a new defensive line, Leonard Fournette, and even how Johnson continues to fit into the linebacker role. But there is one thing about this game that Johnson, and probably the rest of the team is currently feeling… they want to fast-forward to Saturday:
“I can’t wait to get in front of Gator Nation. Period.”