Johnson makes the grade in his first game

Offensive guard T.J. Johnson garnered the praise of Coach Steve Spurrier in the offseason for the great strides he made in getting himself both mentally and physically ready to be a starting offensive lineman in the SEC. In the season opener, Johnson's performance justified that claim made by Spurrier.


Johnson, a redshirt freshman, played a flawless game, in terms of playing the correct assignment, on each of the 64 snaps that the Carolina offense had during the N.C. State game. However, the Aynor, South Carolina native says he played far from a perfect game.

"I didn't miss any of my assignments, but there are still a lot of things that I have to do better. (The perfect 100% grade) just means that I blocked the right guy on each play. There were a couple of plays where I messed up on my footwork and didn't finish my blocks like I should have. I'm going to work on finishing off my blocks this week, and just going out there and being relentless on every play," noted Johnson.

Not missing any assignments is hard enough to accomplish in any given game, but the fact that Johnson was able to perform that well against one of the best defensive lines in the ACC in his first career start, makes the feat even more prestigious.

Playing on national television was special, Johnson claims, because everyone from his hometown was able to watch his standout performance.

"It was really neat because when I finally looked at my phone after the game I had 42 text messages, and then I got on Facebook and a lot of people had written me a message there as well. It was also special because I got to go home Friday to my hometown's high school football game. Everyone there came up and congratulated me and told me to keep up the good work."

Johnson and the offensive line will face an even tougher tough test come Saturday, when they will be pitted against Georgia, who boasts one of the best interior defensive lines in the SEC.

"We've got to come off the ball well this week for sure. Georgia's defensive line is a little upgrade from N.C. State's (defensive line). In order to beat these guys, all of (our offensive linemen) have to be assignment perfect. We've got to come out and play with heart and really just bring our A game. The one thing that has been emphasized about our game this week is playing with low pad level, and we'll need to make sure we do that against Georgia in order to be successful."

The Gamecock trenchmen will be up against a pair of very talented defensive tackles for the Bulldogs in Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins.

Owens returned to the lineup for the first time last week after suffering a knee injury in last season's opener that kept him out for the entire season. Despite being out for the majority of last season, Owen's talent was good enough to land him on the preseason All-SEC third team defense, and he is expected to be a first day draft pick in next spring's NFL draft. He will make his 26th career start for Georgia in the contest against the Gamecocks.

Atkins has started 19 consecutive games for the Bulldogs, and was named to the SEC's second team defense for the preseason. He had 7 ½ tackles for loss and a team-high 32 quarterback hurries last season for Georgia.

"They're very impressive," Johnson said of Atkins and Owens. "I've only played one game so the only time I've seen those guys is on film, but they look really strong and really fast. These guys know what they're doing, and I'm really looking forward to this matchup against them."

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