PJ's Houston Bowl press conference

Transcript of Navy head coach Paul Johnson's press conference following the Mids' 38-14 loss to Texas Tech in the EV1.net Houston Bowl on December 30, 2003. Navy and Texas Tech finished the 2003 season with identical 8-5 records.

PJ:  We had some opportunities early in the game and we weren't able to take advantage of it.  I think you have to give them credit. The bowl game was great; we had a great week in Houston right up to the game.  I told our guys in the locker room after the game that I was proud of them.  Even with what I saw on the field, I would rather be the coach of my team than the other team after watching what went on out there.  We will go back and work.  We have some work to do to get where we need to be.

Q. Do you second-guess yourself going for that fake punt in the second quarter?

A. No.  How many times did they punt in the game?

Q. None.

A.  There you go.  That's why we felt like we had to do something.

Q. How difficult is Tech to defend?

A. They spread you out.  Certainly their quarterback has a strong arm and throws the ball.  They made some plays.  We got them in third and long sometimes and they made plays and I think they converted on fourth down every time they went for it.  I thought the big thing that hurt us was when we fumbled the ball on the goal line.  Maybe if we score and get ahead of them things might have been different, but we really never slowed them down so you have to give them some credit.

Q. Did the flea flicker they ran at the end of the game bother you?

A. No, that didn't bother me.  The 42 personal fouls were a little rough, but what are you going to do about it.

Q. Coach what are your impressions of B.J. Symons?

A. I think he has a rocket for an arm.  He's definitely a competitor and a tough kid.  I thought he played great.  I have nothing but good things to say about him.  I thought he did a great job.

Q. What was your intent on defense?  What specifically were you trying to do to slow them down?

A. We tried about everything we could do.  Rush three, rush four, rush five.  We really didn't match-up with them.  We just didn't make plays.  We had some guys around the ball at times, but we weren't fortunate enough to come up with the ball.  One of the big plays of the game was right before the half when we blitzed and nailed Symons pretty good and knocked the ball out and our guy, instead of getting it, falls down and they were able to recover it and went on and scored right before the half which was huge.  If we get the ball the worse case scenario if we don't score is that we're down 7-0 at the half and you're still in the game.  We didn't make the plays we had to make.  I think you have to give them credit.  They made plays.

Q. I get the feeling that you didn't think you played as well as you could have or have at times this year, can you talk about offensively maybe not being as polished as you were at times this year.

A. Well, we struggled mightily trying to throw the ball.  We didn't hit any big, big plays on offense.  I don't know how many times we got the ball pitched on the perimeter and there were two guys out there with two blockers and we would either trip over our own guy or slip and fall.  Normally, you would hit some of those plays all the way.  Again, you have to give them credit.  They were pretty big inside and we had a hard time getting movement inside so it limited the fullback game tremendously.  There wasn't a lot we could do with him.  We had to make it more of a perimeter game and we didn't make plays.  We had a chance to throw play-action, but we couldn't get it off or we couldn't get it there.  We were a little bit out of sync.  I think you have to give them some credit.  We moved the ball.  Up until midway through the third quarter we hadn't punter either we just weren't scoring.  We fumbled on the goal line, missed the short field goal, we just didn't have any points to show for it.  I felt like if we could come out in the second half and put together a really nice drive and score we would be right there and we did that, but you have to give them credit because they answered it.  They went right back down and answered the score.  We hit a big play on fourth down to get out of a hole and went down and scored to get to within 10, they got a personal foul penalty and we kicked the ball down to the 10-yard line and they go 90 yards again.  It didn't matter where they got the ball.  I think it told you how they felt about the game when they fair caught the ball at the 10-yard line and we were offside and they didn't make us kick it again.  They really didn't care where they had it they just wanted the ball.

Q. Can you talk about your experience in Houston?

A. This is a great event.  I think it's a tremendous stadium, the nicest stadium I've ever been in.  I thought we had a great crowd; the fans were really into the game.  I'm really proud of our following.  We had a large group of Navy fans and they were loud and really into the game and they showed a lot of class and we really appreciate them.  As far as the atmosphere, the bowl and the stadium it's top notch.  I can't say that I've ever been to one better.  The guys did a great job of running the bowl, the facilities were great, and everything about the week was outstanding.

Q. Can you talk more about the fake punt?

A. I thought it was going to be a game that you had to try and score when you had the ball.  It was actually going to be a pass play and we didn't' shake free.  It probably didn't help us any when we tried to check out of it and had to call a timeout and line up again, but they lined up pretty much the same way and they dropped everybody so he had to run it and I guess he came up a half a yard short or a yard short or whatever it was.  It was something we worked on and it was probably a bad decision on my part.  We felt like we had numbers.  As I told our guys I wanted to come and try to play to win the game, I wasn't trying to play to keep it close.

Q. Can you elaborate on all the personal fouls in the game?

A. I can only coach my team, somebody else has to coach the other one.

Q. Can you talk about not having Shane Todd at center?

A. I thought it hurt us some.  They had some big guys in there.  Marshall Green has fought his butt off, but he's probably about 220 pounds.  I saw him in the fourth quarter on one quarterback draw when we got him out on a linebacker and the linebacker was bigger than him.  That wasn't the whole thing; we played a lot of games with those guys inside.  Rather than try and diminish what our guys did, I want to give the other side credit.  I thought they played well.  As I told my team in the locker room after the game, I'm proud of them.  If anybody had said before the season that you can win eight games, go to a bowl game and do all those things coming off where this program has been I think everybody in there would have took it even if they said you had to go to Houston and lose.  Now, did we want to win the game?  Sure and our guys are disappointed, but at the same time hopefully we laid a foundation to build a program and I'm proud of our guys on the team.  Especially the seniors.

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