Johnson: We've got to be at our best

Jovon Johnson talks about preparing for Northwestern in this premium interview transcript.

Q: What did you do on the bye week?

Jovon Johnson: Basically, I just kind of laid back and went to class, did that. Just kind of got off my feet as much as I could. Came in and watched film of Northwestern. Over the weekend I got the opportunity to watch them on TV and see if I could pick and choose what they were going to run at different times. It just felt good to be able to sit back and relax.

Q: What were your thoughts about Basanez as a quarterback, both running and passing?

Johnson: He's a great quarterback. Probably one of the top 3 quarterbacks we'll face all season. He's got a strong arm, and he knows how to get the ball to his receivers. At the same time he can hurt you running the ball. We've got to be at our best when we face him on Saturday.

Q: Is it surprising you to see him being this effective this year?

Johnson: No. I've watched him over the last few years, and he was successful, the only thing was he didn't have the players around him that he has now. They didn't have the confidence they do have now. That's the main key. Our game plan is going to be the same whether we were playing against him or anybody else.

Q: How much does the bye week help you guys prepare for a team with this kind of an offense?

Johnson: It gives you a great opportunity, two weeks to prepare against a team you should be at your best when you go into the game. You've got the extra time, you've put in the extra work, you kind of know what to expect, it just gives you the momentum.

Q: Coach (Ferentz) has come out pretty hard against the 12th game and losing the bye week, saying there's probably a better way to do it. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives of having a 12th game?

Johnson: Having a 12th game is a good idea, but at the same time you've got to think about all the stress and all the work that the players put into it. Having 12 straight weeks of playing football is obviously going to be tough, but at the same time, every player is capable of it. I don't think it's good idea for the simple fact that you practice over summer, you practice during two-a-days, then you go 12 straight weeks of having all football and wearing your body down. Having a body week is probably one of the better ideas that they put in. The bye week is good for players, it allows them to get off their feet, get the extra rehab if they're injured or what not. I think it's a good idea to have a bye week.

Q: How much of a challenge does Northwestern's offense going to present to you guys this week?

Johnson: They're going to do a lot of things to us. A lot of things we've seen all year, we've just got to be prepared for it. Pretty much every team we've played in the Big Ten has run a similar offense to what they're going to do. Ohio State did it, Illinois did it, but they did it with a no-huddle. Then Indiana came in and did it. It's similar to what we're going to see this weekend, we've just got to be prepared and be at our best and be fundamentally sound.

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