Don't tell Carl Johnson he won't play

The Florida Gators will be glad to have back their starting left guard Thursday when they take on Oklahoma for the BCS Championship. The sophomore left guard missed half of the SEC Championship with an injury sustained during the game. Johnson has missed most of the practice time between the games, but will be ready to suit up when the clock starts for the game.

Johnson had surgery to remove some floating cartilage form an injury he sustained in the Alabama game. He actually came back into the game against the Crimson Tide, but needed to have his knee scoped before returning in this game.

"I am as close as I can get on short notice," Johnson said when asked about the injury. "I will be the starting right guard. I am not limited, just need pain control. I practiced, but not the entire practice. (Sunday) was as close as I have practiced a full practice since I hurt my knee. I don't think it's going to be a factor. When I'm on a stage like this and the national championship, I'm not going to be thinking about my knee.

"Normally if I practice hard it is kind of sore, I have to ice it down and it is fine after that. If you can't suck it up for one game, you aren't a football player."

Johnson said he and his fellow offensive linemen are ready to get the game started. The team seems ready and practice seems spirited.

"It has been a great week," Meyer said. "The last national championship, I redshirted. I didn't really play for it and now I'm in it. I am the starting guard and have been for the last nine games. It is what you dream of and what I came to Florida to do."

"The guys have been running around," he said. "You have adrenaline pumping when you come to a national championship and see the crowd the way it is. Coach Meyer doesn't take practice easy. There is a lot of hitting and a lot of getting after it. We didn't come here for a vacation."

Florida head coach Urban Meyer has been very pleased with his team this season. He talks a lot about the professional attitude of his team. Johnson has seen it this week in South Florida.

"Nobody really goes out," he said. "We just hang around, play video games, talk trash, that kind of stuff. I would probably say more went out last year and we wouldn't have been as team oriented last year. We hang out as a group now. We will all go to the movies or go to eat somewhere together. We see it on other units too. Coach Addazio tells us ‘you are only as good as your front five. When they don't go, the team doesn't go.' We try to set the example for the team."

Johnson knows that the competition is going to be tough Thursday. Despite the apparent lack of respect given to the Oklahoma defensive unit by the media and others, the Gator offense has seen a very tough unit that flies around to the ball.

"They are pretty good," Johnson said of the Sooner defense. "You can't be soft and make it to the show. Apparently they are doing something right on the front four. They are very well coached. They are thick and can run. It should be very interesting. They are not tall, not like the normal SEC linemen that are tall and big and can run, but they are just as thick and just as fast and just as strong."

The Oklahoma defense does have one particular defensive line movement that Johnson and his teammates seem concerned about. Johnson and company have been working over time on this particular strategy used by the Sooners.

"Pirate stunts…they all slant inside," Johnson said of the tough defensive maneuver. "You don't know what side of the field or when it's coming. It is a defense that you have to guess pretty much. They play some traditional G-shade (nose guard over the center's shoulder), or a three-technique (outside shoulder of the offensive guard)."

It is going to be a game of strategy and of athleticism and Carl Johnson will be ready for both. Johnson has been waiting for three years to be able to play in a game like this, he is going to do everything he can to make sure it isn't wasted time.


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