Johnson Says O-Line Ready to Go

Senior guard Carl Johnson said he will be protecting precious cargo this year. Johnson and his fellow offensive lineman understand the importance of keeping QB John Brantley healthy and they are ready to do their jobs. After a solid offseason and some bonding time with Brantley, Johnson and company are saying, "bring it on."

"You have to. It's kind of like going into a battle with a general you really don't like and you really don't trust. If you do that, everyone's going to die and no one will have great success. We talk and say ‘Hey, Brantley, we're behind you 100 percent. Up or down, we're going to be right behind you.' We're ready to go," Carl Johnson said.

Johnson has a lofty goal for 2010 and he knows he can't get there without keeping his that No. 12 jersey clean.

"Trying to get back to Atlanta. That's my biggest thing."

The veteran guard has 22 career starts and is coming off a productive spring. He's down to 340 pounds from 355 and said he's gained eight pounds of muscle.

"My body fat is at 22 percent. I like it. I've got a good beach body."

Johnson won't be hitting the beach anytime soon, however. He knows he has a lot of work to do. He said things will be a little different on the line this year.

"Stronger pass protection (with Brantley) because I know Tebow can break and you can scramble with him and make plays. Brantley's more of a pocket quarterback so I just want to keep him safe. That's my job. That's what the school gives me an education for."

As for the drop-off between Tebow and Brantley, Johnson said it doesn't exist in his mind.

"We don't ever fall off. We just reload it. Tebow was a once in a life time quarterback but we have a phenomenal quarterback in John Brantley and the offensive line believes in him. He's our quarterback. How can you not believe in your leader? How good can you expect yourself to be if you don't believe in the man who's leading you?"

Johnson made a point to say Brantley is a man, not just some college kid. In fact, he said the entire team has been behind their signal caller for a while now.

"He (Brantley) was showing signs last year. He kind of saw the light. His initiative and drive…just the way he handles himself in practice," Johnson added.

Still, Brantley is not known for a loud and boisterous leadership style. Who will take on that pump-up role? Johnson said he knows just the man for the job.

"Mike Pouncey is our head and shoulders above (the rest) leader this year. He has that same will as Tebow. He just can't even begin to think of losing. It's going to be fun."

So where does Carl Johnson fit in to the leadership scheme?

"I let Pouncey handle the most dramatic stuff. I just want to be that guy that when you're tired and you're hurting in the game I'd say, ‘look, we've got one drive for the rest of our lives to win this one game.' I'm just one of those guys that's like look, we've got two choices: either you can lose or you can win and I hate losing."

Johnson isn't too worried about what's behind him on the depth chart. He said he feels confident in the young players around him to step up if needed and he finds assurance in an O-Line that's two-deep…at least.

"You have to have two deep because the main four are gone after this year. In my eyes, the young group behind us is just as good. We have David Young, Jon Harrison, Jon Halapio, Nick Alajajian and Xavier Nixon. All five of those are going to be great players here. Their athleticism is above mine. I'll never be able to move like those guys move."

Currently, a battle is shaping up at the left tackle spot and Johnson weighed in on the situation saying he feels confident in both Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan. He reminded us that both have played "significant ball" and either one would be very qualified. As for Patchan, Johnson is hoping he is finally back in action.

"Matt just had some unfortunate events happen. He's a great football player. He had the short end of the stick sometimes. I think he's going to be healthy this year. He's more focused and determined. I think the sky's the limit for him."

Actually, Johnson thinks the sky is the limit for this whole squad. He is hoping hard work and humility continue to spread like wildfire.

"All I know is coach (Addazio) said his O-line will always be known as lunch pail guys. We bring our lunch to work, we don't go out to eat. So, that's the approach and its starting to bleed onto the team. We're just going to grind everything out and take it one week at a time."

As Johnson, and a few other people once said, "slow and steady wins the race."
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