Johnson standouts in first scrimmage, talks to ITV afterwards
Sophomore Brandon Johnson, a 6'5, 210 linebacker from Birmingham, AL had an impressive scrimmage Saturday afternoon in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Playing outside linebacker with the first team defense, Johnson used his quickness, long arms, and play making ability to cause havoc for the Cardinal passing attack by getting in the backfield several times on blitzes, recording two sacks on the afternoon and altering several passes with his length.
Johnson, a special teams standout last season as a redshirt freshman, blocking several punts and kicks, looks to have the same type impact with a young but talented defensive unit this season. Though he'll need to add additional strength to reach his full potential, Johnson possesses all the necessary skills to become a standout on the defensive side of the ball the next few seasons.
And with several veteran defenders moving on to the next level, including standouts Dwayne White, Curry Burns, Anthony Floyd and Chad Lee, Johnson and the young Cardinal defenders are intent to prove that defense is still an important and capable part of the equation in 2003.
"This unit feels like we have a lot to prove," Johnson said Saturday. "That's the big attitude in the locker room right now, lets prove to the world that we can still play football."
Johnson discussed his progress and Saturdays action following the scrimmage with InsidetheVille.com.
ITV: Talk some about your ability to get in the backfield.
Brandon Johnson: As you could tell I'm not too big to be one of those guys in the middle. So what coach does is bring me off the edge so I can use my feet in the open field. So a lot of times the O-linemen are not paying any attention to me so I usually come free one on one with the back. So that's usually our scheme right there, try to confuse them. They'll know we're blitzing but they won't know where it's coming from. But that's basically our whole plan right there. Confuse the offense, disrupt and go get them.
ITV: What's your biggest challenge playing the linebacker position?
Brandon Johnson: I can think of one play. The counter when the guard is coming from seven yards away and he weighs 300 lbs. and I weigh 203. That might be the biggest challenge right there. That's the biggest challenge. But our offense has plenty of formations, a million motions, a thousand checks you never know what our offense is going to do. Our offense might have the best play fake I've ever seen in a long time. They've got the best play action. That bootleg, that's nice..they really sell it. The O-line, quarterback, running back they really do a nice job selling it. That's probably one of the biggest challenges.
ITV: How is learning process going with the new staff?
Brandon Johnson: They really put you in a position to let you line up and play. So really the teaching becomes secondary once he [QB] says hut. So if you can get into your stance right.. hey I guess it's all go then.