Quick hits with T.J. Johnson

Read inside as GamecockAnthem.com talks one-on-one with talented redshirt freshman offensive lineman T.J. Johnson, who has edged out all challengers for the first team right guard position this preseason.

Below is a question and answer session between GamecockAnthem's Will Tiller and offensive lineman T.J. Johnson:

Question: Coach Eric Wolford listed you as the first team right guard earlier this week, but is the battle with Heath Batchelor for that starting spot still ongoing?

Answer: It'll be wide open until game time. Coach Wolford talks about how he can tell who's ready to play just by looking in a guy's eyes before the game, so you don't really know who's going to start when.

Question: Are you surprised that you've been able to jump up to the top of the depth chart as a redshirt freshman?

Answer: Well, that's a tricky question, but I feel like I'm ready to play. I'm just glad that I have the opportunity to play, and I'm going to do all I can to make the best of it. I'm just going to go out there and give it everything that I've got.

Question: Do you like the fact that Coach Wolford won't hesitate to replace someone who's not performing up to their potential at a moment's notice?

Answer: Actually I do. It does put a lot of stress on you, but in return Coach Wolford gets the best out of each player. I think I speak for the whole (offensive) line when I say that it has made each of us better with him going about it like that.

Question: Wolford stated that he likes to try to cross-train each of his lineman so that they know multiple positions on the offensive line, so where else have you been cross-training?

Answer: He hasn't really put me at many other places yet, but I've definitely been trying to learn every other position on the line. One, so it will make me a better player. Two, in case he needs me to play somewhere else I want to be ready to step in there and know what to do.

Question: How different is it playing under Wolford compared to your first year with the program?

Answer: It's a lot different. To me this offensive line is a better group. Take tonight for instance, we've got an offensive line dinner. We're going to go hang out and grill some steaks. Stuff like that has helped us jell both on and off the field. Last year we didn't have anything like that. Coach Wolford is a guy who will fight for you. He's the kind of guy who's hard on you, but at the same time you know he's got your back no matter what.

Question: What's different about his style of coaching?

Answer: He creates a lot of competition within our group. He'll snatch you out of there in the blink of an eye if you aren't playing like you should be. He constantly challenges us mentally and physically, and I think that has helped us improve a lot. He's really intense and I've loved playing under him thus far. I think the fans and everybody else will see a big difference in the offensive line this year thanks to him.

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