PJ's Press Conference - Tuesday, October 12th

Transcript of Navy Head Football Coach Paul Johnson's post-practice press conference from Tuesday, October 12th.

Q. Two years ago when you played Notre Dame in your first year they appeared confused by the option early on.  Did you feel like they played your option better last year?

A. They played pretty much the same way.  They had some wrinkles, but they have a base defense and they have a system and they play within their system, which I think is smart.

Q. Am I correct in saying that Notre Dame is one of the teams that has been able to commit fewer guys inside to stop the fullback?  They can try and play two-on-three inside and still win?

A. Yeah.  You're very smart in assuming that.

Q. How do you make them pay for that?

A. Well, we just have to have a plan and see what happens.  I could tell you, but then I would have to kill you.

Q. In essence that's the one way to defend the option well.

A. It's the way to defend anything.  If you can set four guys inside and they can play all your run game and get pressure on the passer it makes it pretty easy to play defense it doesn't matter what you do.  The thing that we have to do is try to make sure to make all those guys play assignment football, all of them, inside guys and everybody.  We have to pick our one-on-one battles.  We aren't going to win too many one-on-one battles against them and I know that.

Q. In essence the reason they were able to do that last year was they had a nose guard that was pretty dominant and was doing the job in there.

A. I guess they were successful.  We scored 24 points.  They made the stops when they had too.  We're not going to go in there and score a bunch of points on them.  They're pretty good on defense and they have been since I've been here, especially my first year when they were real good.  I'm real sure they're pretty good this year too.

Q. What concerns you about their offense?

A. They're big and physical.  Last year when they wanted too they mashed us.  What did Jones have, 200 some yards?

Q. How do you prevent that from happening again?

A. I don't know.  There again you can try to pick your poison, but you can only commit so many guys to the run and then everybody wants to know why they threw it over your head. 

Q. That's what happened in your first year at the end.

A. Well, we weren't even playing the run at the end and they still threw it over our heads.  We just have to do what we do and hopefully we will have a plan to give our guys a chance and we'll see.  It's like somebody told me before, physical superiority cancels all theory sometimes.

Q. Are you pleased with the way Lane Jackson has played this year?

A. Yeah, Lane has played really well.  He's been very productive.  I think Lane's one of the guys that has maximized his ability.  I don't know if I've seen a guy that works at it harder or plays harder.  He and Bobby McClarin both really play hard.

Q. He's pretty small for his position.

A. Everybody we have is, but you're right he is.

Q. Do you think those two linebackers are part of the reason why you've been better against the run?  They are both very active and involved.

A. Yeah, I think they're a big part of it.  I think we run better overall as a team and that helps.  You know you've made progress when your two leading tacklers are your linebackers instead of your free safety.

Q. Are you surprised at kids like Darius Walker of Notre Dame and Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma can step right in and play?  It doesn't seem like it was happening that much a few years ago.

A. Not really at running back.  That's one of the positions where it's a lot of natural ability and those kids, Adrian Peterson is a freak.  He's a great player and so is Walker from Notre Dame.  I think if a freshman is going to play it's much easier to do at running back or corner or maybe as a pass rushing defensive end.  Those are probably the positions that a freshman can play quicker.

Q. The guys we just named are playing at Oklahoma and Notre Dame; Tennessee is playing a freshman quarterback.  Those are some of the premier programs and they still are relying on freshmen.  What do you think is the reason for that?

A. Because those freshmen are good.  I think the other thing that happens is if your Tennessee I'm sure they weren't counting on those guys playing, they had CJ Leak at quarterback and sometimes those guys miss.  The biggest misnomer in college football to me is the recruiting services.  These guys say this school has the best class and that school has the best class, I mean who has had the number one class for the last few years?

Q. Texas?

A. Texas, and they haven't even won their league yet.  If those guys knew who the best players were they would be coaching, they wouldn't be doing a recruiting service.  They've never even seen half those kids play.  "We have four or five star wide receivers," well whoop-di-do, maybe they can catch and maybe they can't, while you have some other kid at some small town in Texas that might be Roy Williams that had one star.  You don't know.  It's all in evaluation.

Q. Are you going to roll out the parade quote?  They have 85 Parade All-Americans and you have 85 guys that have marched in a parade?

A. No.

Q. Willingham already threw that back.  He said the guys you have marching in the parade are some tough son-of-a-guns.

A. I thought they were very nice to us.  They said we played hard and that we were very fit.

Q. Would you agree with that?

A. Yeah, I think to this point we've played hard and I hope we're fit.

Q. Some of the guys were talking about finishing.  They've played Notre Dame tough for three or three and a half quarters, but they've never finished.  Do you think that's crucial to winning this game?  Playing the fourth quarter every bit as good as the first or second?

A. That's crucial in every game.  I think what's happened in the last two years is when it got to the fourth quarter they turned it up a notch.  You have to be able to match that intensity and that's what makes it tough.  We had our chances last year.  We had the ball with 4:30 left and actually put together a couple of first downs and we were moving down the field and we had a third and four and ran the option and we slipped.  We catch the pitch and fall down.  We punt the ball with about 1:15 left at the 15-yard line and they drove the field the last minute.  They did what they had to do to win.  The year before we were up eight with six minutes to go and they scored 15 points before you could even turn around.  They've made plays when they had to make plays.  That's the mark of a good program.  One that thinks they're going to win and expects to win.

Q. Willingham thought that a good start was imperative for Notre Dame.  Do you feel the same way?

A. Yeah, we can't get behind by a bunch.  It's going to be a long game.  It's not going to be won in the first two or three possessions and it's probably not going to be lost in the first two or three possessions unless you go three and out and they score every time.  Who knows?  We aren't ever going to be on the same talent level as Notre Dame, but sometimes the best players don't win, the best team does.  We have to try and get a plan and go try and be the best team.

Q. What's your expectation about what kind of crowd is going to be there?  It seats 80,000 and how much of that is going to be Notre Dame fans?

A. We will have some fans; we've had good support.  Notre Dame will be the home team.  They usually are.

Q. The home team in a year that you're supposed to be the home team.

A. That's usually the way it works.

Q. What do you think of that?  There's not much that can be done, but is there anyway that Navy can make this more of a home game than playing at Giants Stadium?

A. That's not going to have anything to do with winning or losing.  There are a lot of factors that go into that and I understand why we play in the Meadowlands.  I understand it and it doesn't bother me.

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