Paul Johnson Monday comments

Navy head coach Paul Johnson spoke to the media on Monday about the upcoming game with Eastern Michigan.

In Attendance: Bill Wagner (Annapolis Capital), Ron Snyder (Baltimore Examiner)

Wagner: What can you tell us about Eastern Michigan?

Johnson: I think they have had a tough year as far as wins and losses go, but when you turn the tape on they have been in almost every game and they have lost some real heartbreakers. Western Michigan, who is going to play Central Michigan for that half of the MAC Championship, beat them right at the end by three I think, they lost to Central Michigan by seven in overtime after leading most of the game, they just lost to Ohio, who it looks like is going to win the East side of the MAC, 16-10 on Saturday, so they have lost a lot of close games. They have played a lot of low scoring games. If you look they have some pretty good stats on defense. It's going to be a tough game for us.

Snyder: This could be a trap game for you coming off the win over Duke and securing the bowl bid.

Johnson: We have to try and build some momentum and every game is important. I hope our guys are smart enough to know that we better be ready to play our best game. We are going to be playing in an NFL stadium in their home state so I'm sure they are going to be excited to play. We need to be able to match their enthusiasm.

Wagner: What do you think about playing at Ford Field?

Johnson: I think it's fine.

Wagner: Are you going to miss not going to Ypsilanti?

Johnson: I've actually been to Ypsilanti. I might be one of the few people that have been there.

Wagner: Can you comment on the MAC? They are an underrated conference.

Johnson: All you have to do is look at some of their scores. Western Michigan won at Virginia, I saw Ohio U on film earlier this year against Rutgers and they have a very good football team, Ball State took Michigan to the end, there are some good teams in that league. There always have been.

Socci: How much option did Ohio run?

Johnson: A little bit. They are multiple.

Socci: Is what Eastern Michigan does offensively similar to Northwestern?

Johnson: Yeah, it is pretty similar. A lot of the MAC teams are running spread offenses.

Snyder: This is the time of year where it seems like you guys always start playing better, is it because the later the season goes the better you get at running the offense?

Johnson: I hope so. We are what we are and we do what we do. We keep running it and you would hope you get better at it as the season goes along. This year we've had so many injuries and we have a lot of key guys that aren't there. Kaipo actually has two games as a starter under his belt so it's not like he's a guy that has played nine games. We've had some guys play different positions. Defensively we've had to mix and match some. We've had some guys hurt. Historically we've done OK towards the end of the year. Hopefully we can keep it going.

Wagner: You retained the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, any thoughts about that?

Johnson: No. We still have to win the thing. We haven't done anything yet. We are in a position to win it, but we haven't accomplished that yet.

Wagner: Retaining it isn't satisfactory?

Johnson: No, that's not the goal. Winning the thing is the goal.

Wagner: Were you shocked at that result?

Johnson: I watched the game. It was a crazy game. At one point I think Air Force had 30 points and 60 yards. It was just one of those screwy things. You have to give Air Force some credit too. I have never seen anything like it really. I don't know how to describe it.

Snyder: With the victory over Duke you qualified for the Meineke Car Care Bowl, do you have any thoughts on just having that secured and now being able to concentrate on the rest of the season.

Johnson: It's a good thing. I think it's a positive for the seniors and the football team that they've accomplished one of their goals, to get to a bowl game, but we still have a lot of work to do. I guess it's good to get it behind us. We won't talk about it again until after the Army game. We are worried about Eastern Michigan now. That's the only thing we have to think about.

Wagner: Scott sent out a bowl projection that has you playing Clemson and I've seen other projections, but regardless of who you play it's going to be somebody good.

Johnson: It's going to be somebody good. You won't have to worry about that.

Wagner: Florida State or Miami?

Johnson: Right now I'm worried about Eastern Michigan. We will worry about that when the time comes.

Wagner: Harper? Will he be OK?

Johnson: Yeah, I think he will be OK. We held him out today, but his X-Ray was negative.

Wagner: Was that a situation on Saturday where it just wasn't worth bringing him back in?

Johnson: Yeah, I just wasn't going to put him back in. We held Tyler out for the second half too. We held a lot of guys out in the second half.

Wagner: Did any of the reserves show you anything? I saw Sudderth at wide receiver.

Johnson: They didn't get a lot of plays. I thought Jarod Bryant did some real positive things running the ball when he got in there. I was pleased with him. Matt Hall made a nice cut on a run when he got in there, there were some guys flying around. Bobby Doyle got his first carry. In a situation like that they don't get enough plays to really evaluate a whole lot.

Wagner: Campbell looked great on that punt return. First of all, why did you put him back there with Jason? Did you anticipate that they would punt it to the corner and you wanted to set it up so Jason would get the punt?

Johnson: They were rugby punting and we wanted a short returner and a deep returner because we were trying to keep the ball from hitting the ground. Coach O'Rourke put him back there and he worked on that all week and we did that because of the way they punted. We know what kind of returner Reggie is.

Wagner: Any thoughts to use him in that role more often?

Johnson: Yeah, we've thought about it, but Jason has been such a good reliable guy catching the ball and that's the first thing you have to have, a guy that's going to catch it every time. I would love to see Reggie back there. He will probably be back there again this week.

Wagner: Is he normally on the punt return team as a blocker?

Johnson: No.

Wagner: Is that an issue? That you can't play him too much? It seems like he plays on everything.

Johnson: He's OK. We haven't had to drag him off and give him oxygen yet.


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