PJ's Press Conference - Monday, October 11

Transcript Of Navy Head Football Coach Paul Johnson's Comments Following Practice Monday, October 11th, 2004. Navy (5-0) faces Notre Dame (4-2) at Giants Stadium on Saturday, October 16th, at noon (ET) on CBS.

Q. So the big week is upon you.

A. They're all big weeks.  This one isn't any different than any of the others.

Q. Do you think if you were to beat Notre Dame it would be the biggest win in Navy history?

A. I don't know.  Navy history goes back a long way.

Q. What did you see after watching the Stanford game?

A. They're good.  They're big and physical; they run well, they have a great football team.  They aren't ever going to have bad players. 

Q. Can you talk a little about their young running back?

A. He's had a great season.  I think the other tailback, Grant, has been banged up and hurt a little bit, but I thought he played well against Stanford.  They have a couple of good fullbacks, the offensive line is athletic, I think they can run the football if they choose to.

Q. Are you surprised with the way Polanco has played so far?

A. I thought he had the tools going in, but I really didn't know how he was going to do in game situations, but he's done very well and I'm proud of him.

Q. At the end of the Air Force game he was able to drive the team down the field for the win and came up with the big play on the quarterback draw.

A. I think Aaron's made plays for us all year and he made some plays in the Air Force game.  The drive before when he hit the pass on third and 19 was a bigger play than the quarterback draw. There really wasn't anyone there on the draw he just had to run.

Q. Do you think Brady Quinn is improved from last year?

A. Yes.  I think he's gotten better.  Not only has he gotten better from last year, but I think he's gotten better every game.  I think he feels a lot more comfortable.

Q. Who on defense looks to be playing at a high level for them?

A. They're all good.  They're all huge and they run well.  We haven't played anybody close to them physically.

Q. It seemed like Stanford was able to get some yards against them with some misdirection stuff.  Do you think you can use their aggressiveness against them?

A. I don't know.  They are going to run to the ball.  What did Stanford score six points in the first half?

Q. Were you surprised that the team elected Polanco team captain in the preseason even though he hadn't played much the previous three years?

A. Not really.  I think it kind of goes with that position a little bit and Aaron had been a leader in the summer workouts. 

Q. With the off week what were you able to accomplish?  This wasn't your typical Monday practice.

A. No, we picked up a day.  We had a couple of days on Notre Dame last week so we're a little bit ahead of where we would be game plan wise.  What we will do is go ahead and have another full padded practice tomorrow and then we will start to cut back a little bit.  Hopefully it will give everybody a chance to heal up and we will have two days to polish up some stuff.

Q. It's kind of interesting that on a normal bye week you would have at least played on a Saturday, but you played Thursday so it's been even longer.  You've had two Saturday's off.

A. It's been crazy.  I guess I got to see how other people live on Saturday's.  I got to watch college football for two weeks in a row.  I kind of like sitting on the couch all day with a clicker and not caring who wins or loses.  It's a lot more fun that way. 

Q. That's what all the fired coaches do.

A. Hey, you can make all the right calls from your couch.

Q. You wanted Notre Dame to win on Saturday didn't you?

A. Oh, I didn't care. 

Q. You didn't want to play them coming off two losses did you?

A. I didn't care.  I didn't watch all the Notre Dame game Saturday.  I was back and forth.  I was watching about three games, flipping back and forth. We got the Notre Dame game tape in a swap, which is much better to watch than watching it on TV for scouting purposes.

Q. Do you get concerned that your team may lose something having been off so long?  I know Ralph Friedgen mentioned that after the Maryland game that he felt like his team lost something during the off week.  You had been playing so well do you feel like you might have lost your edge?

A. It can happen, but you also get healthy.  I have a pretty good idea that Notre Dame is going to take a little edge off us. I'm not worried as much about the off week as I am about who we're playing.

Q. What was the academic schedule like the last two weeks?

A. We had exams during Air Force week.  Unfortunately almost every year our exam schedule hits during Notre Dame week.  It has just kind of worked that way.

Q. You were going starters against starters in your seven-on-seven drills today.  Do you normally do that?

A. Yeah, we've done that all year.  It's really just for the speed.

Q. It's interesting that people are talking about this being the year you beat Notre Dame, because you're good and they are

A. 4-2.

Q. But the last few years you've played them tough anyway.  Navy normally does play Notre Dame tough.  You get up for the game.

A. How many times have they won?

Q. You still play them tough.

A. People talk about the last 40 years, but the all-time series record is 67-9-1 so it's not like they were killing them before the 40.  There's a reason guys.  We don't have anybody on our team that Notre Dame recruited. I don't know if we have anybody on our team that Notre Dame sent a letter to.  They're supposed to win.

Q. That's to your advantage.

A. It hasn't been for 40 years.

Q. Can you talk about Marco Nelson?

A. He's made some big plays.  He's made some really good plays in the passing game and he did that in the spring.  He needs to be more consistent going in the right direction and knowing his assignments so we can get him in the game more.  He has some ability.

Q. You're pretty deep at slot.

A. We have some guys that can play.  We basically only play four or five, but yeah I feel like we have some guys that can play there.  We need to get some of the younger guys in the game more.  Frank Divis has played well.  I don't think Eric Roberts has played as well as he can.

Q. If Stanford didn't drop that punt they might have won on Saturday.

A. I think Stanford has a pretty good football team.  I think I heard that Stanford has seven or eight guys that they beat Notre Dame on in recruiting. They have some of the same cats.


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