Johnson: "We're going to surprise people"

Many consider Bruce Johnson the lock down corner in Miami's defense. The senior from Live Oak, Florida has the experience and athleticism necessary to be an outstanding cornerback for the Hurricanes. Canes Time caught up with Johnson to get his thoughts on the 2008 season.

You're the veteran leader of the cornerbacks. What have you been doing to show the underclassmen what it takes to play cornerback at the collegiate level?

"I just try to lead by example. I know that I'm the senior corner out there along with Carlos Armour. We just take it upon ourselves to help the guys if they have problems or have questions. They know that they can come to us. We'll be there to help them. We've got numbers exchanged, of course. It's not just us though. We've got older safeties that are helping our corners out as well. We are just all in it together. We're trying to give each other knowledge and have a good chemistry back there in the secondary."

With the first game less than a month away, how excited are you guys to get back to playing football and start turning it around from last year's 5-7 season?

"We're real excited man. That's all we've been thinking about and talking about for the longest time. We're just ready to show people that we're good and we still got it. We've just got to go out there and do what we're supposed to do and everything will be alright. We've got to believe in the coaches and believe in ourselves. As long as we keep the good chemistry between all of us, we'll be alright."

A lot of the pre-season predictions have you finishing around the middle of the pack in the ACC. Do you think you will surprise some of these so called experts that are counting you guys out?

"To be honest with you, we're going to surprise a lot of people. A lot of people are going off last year's stuff. They don't know what we're doing now but we don't try to get into that because we don't have anything to do with that. That's their opinion. We, as a team, don't read into all that. We're going to take it one game at a time and get it done."

Obviously the first game of the season against Charleston Southern is very important but how does this team stay focused on that and avoid looking ahead to that Week 2 match up against Florida?

"That's how you get beat and we know that now. We've go tot take it one week at a time. That's how it goes. Of course the regular person is going to think about Florida because they think it's bigger than Charleston Southern but nothing is bigger than the game you've go to play that week. In order to even talk about playing Florida, you've got to win that game first. We're not even looking at Florida right now. We just want to play Charleston Southern and get that out of the way. After that we can worry about the next week. Just put every week behind us and keep moving forward."

With the departure of Kenny Phillips to the NFL, some experts are saying the Miami secondary is depleted and lacking talent. How do you feel about that?

"Kenny was a great player and he's going to do real good in the NFL but players leave every year. You just have to bounce back. We've got a bunch of safeties that are just as good as Kenny. It's not really fair to say that just one guy is going to make a secondary good or bad. Not to take anything away from Kenny but it's not fair to say that. I really don't think that one guys leaving is going to determine our secondary. We're all in it together and we've got a good chemistry right now. Our secondary is going to be real good."

Last year's defense was not as good as the Miami defenses of year's past. With the arrival of Coach Young and his new scheme, people are expecting the defense to be back to its dominant ways. How do you think the new scheme will affect your play?

"I don't think it's going to affect my play at all. We've adapted to it so fast that it's like second nature to us. We're playing defense and that's what we've got to learn. It's not going to affect us at all."

Coach Bill Young brought in a new defensive system when he was hired. Is it very different from the other systems you've played in while at Miami?

"It's pretty much the same things just terminology wise it's different with the calls. In the secondary, we play off now. That's about it."

Is it a lot of blitzing or zone or man? What are you guys doing?

"It's a lot of stuff. We've got a lot of styles to play this year. Just watch. We're going to be alright."

Is it tough for the players to learn a new system every year?

"We're football players. We've got to go through adversity. We just had to pick it up and learn it fast and that's what we did. We worked on it in the spring and in 7 on 7s. We just got to keep putting it together. Everything has been going good. I feel that the sky is the limit for us."

You've had to play defense against all of the quarterbacks. Who has stood out the most in your opinion?

"They're throwing touchdowns. All four of them are throwing touchdowns so it's hard to say. Marve is looking good and making good throws and so is Jacory so it's hard to say. So is Cannon. He's throwing touchdowns too. It's hard to try to pick just one guy out."

As a defensive back, which one scares you the most when they're under center?

‘None of them. My confidence is too high to be scared."

Obviously it's a long way away and there's a whole season still left to be played but Miami has had a record 14 straight years with a first round pick in the NFL Draft and some think that you could be the player that keeps the streak alive. Does that put any added pressure on you going into the season?

"Not really because I'm not playing for that. I'm playing to help this team. Whatever I do on the field to help this team or whatever anybody does at any position, it is going to show later. I'm not worried about that right now. I'm just trying to play ball, have fun with my teammates, and take it to the top."

A lot of people are expecting Brandon Harris to come in and have a big impact similar to what DeMarcus Van Dyke did last year. How do you think he will do in his freshman season?

"I think he's going to do well. Brandon came in for the second summer. He did real well working out and in 7 on 7s. He picked up the nickel position. That was a hard position for me to learn when I first came in but he picked it up real well. He met with the coaches and he's always staking notes in the meeting rooms. He asks us older guys anything he needs to know if he doesn't know something. I feel he's going to do real good. He's going to gel right in with the rest of us in the secondary."

Outside of Brandon Harris, have any of the other newcomers impressed you in 7 on 7s?

"Oh yeah, a lot of them. Since the Northwestern boys came in, I knew we were going to have a real good year coming around. We had a real good spring. The Northwestern boys came in and did real good on the field and off the field working out. When the other guys came in, it just continued. We didn't see any let up at all. They're very smart and they've got a lot of intensity. They're all going to do a lot of good things."

There are a lot of young receivers on this team. As a veteran defensive back, do you feel like you have an advantage against them when you are covering them?

"You could say that but they're picking up a lot. You can't get caught slipping out there with a lot of those guys because they've got a lot of speed and quickness. Of course, I'm the veteran and I have an edge on them with experience but those guys have a little something too. You've got to stay on your toes. You can't slip up. You can't take it easy on them just because they're freshmen. They're all good and you've got to bring you're "A" game every time."


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