Interviews: Brian Kovolisky, Patrick Johnson

VandyMania spoke with senior offensive guard <B>Brian Kovolisky</b> and sophomore placekicker <b>Patrick Johnson</b> about the team's mindset heading into this weekend's road battle with Navy. <i>The Commodores (0-2) face the Midshipmen (3-0) at 12:30 CT Saturday in Annapolis, Md. (HDNet TV only; 104.5 The Zone).</i>

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VandyMania: Brian, the running game seemed to open up a lot in that Ole Miss game as opposed to the opener. What were you guys up front doing different to get those holes opened up?

Senior guard Brian Kovolisky: I think we played a lot more physical. We hit the holes a lot harder, and the running backs did an excellent job. We stayed with our schemes, and we just did what we were supposed to do.

VM: It had to be tough to lose it the way you did. You guys were maybe one or two plays from beating Ole Miss on the road. You had that one pass play to Chris Young that was called back on account of a penalty. Did you feel like those plays took away some of your momentum after you had gotten the lead?

Brian: Yeah, there were those one or two plays, but there were also other plays where if we had executed better, it would have put us in a better situation. Those two plays probably would have helped a lot, but at the same time, you've got to play all four quarters and finish the game. We didn't.

We were pretty upset about it, but we didn't get down on ourselves. We've just got to bounce back in the next game against Navy.

VM: You're a senior leader, and it's part of your job to make sure the team doesn't get too down on itself. How do you go about doing that? How do you get them to pull through a week like this?

Brian: You just go out there and set an example. Be positive. You don't ever hang your head down. You just do your best to get everyone to keep going and stay motivated. You don't ever quit.

VM: Justin Geisinger missed a good portion of the Ole Miss game with an injury, and Ryan King played in his place. From your perspective, how did you think Ryan played, and what effect do you think it will have if Justin can't play this week?

Brian: It's tough losing Geis, of course. He's one of our best players. But King, he came in last year in the Kentucky game and did a good job. He's already showed that he's a pretty good player. I'd say it definitely hurt us some that Geis was out, but at the same time I think King is very capable of playing whenever we need him.

VM: How would you assess the play of the offensive line so far this season?

Brian: We definitely executed our schemes a lot better against Ole Miss. We have played very physical and took it at them.

VM: Against Navy this week you have to travel up there to play. Last year I know you all remember that they beat you in a close game at home. What do you think the team's mindset is in going up there?

Brian: It's definitely going to be a big game for us. We're just going up there with one thing on our minds. They are a very good team, and we'll see if we can get it done up there. We were fortunate to be able to move the ball on them very well last year.

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VandyMania: Patrick, the Ole Miss game was kind of a coming-out party for you. You had two field goals and were 2-of-2 on extra point tries.

Sophomore placekicker Patrick Johnson: Yeah, it was good to get out there and finally kick some in a live situation. I've been preparing all summer for the chance to get to this moment.

VM: How would you describe the team's mindset coming off the Ole Miss game?

Patrick: Of course we felt like we could have won that one. We played a lot better against Ole Miss than we did against South Carolina, but we still made a lot of mistakes that could have swayed that game the other way. It was kind of a sick feeling, but we're going to bounce back and get after Navy.

VM: I'm sure you would have liked to have had a chance to kick a 3-pointer at the end of the game or in the overtime period to win the game. Were you prepared to do that if it came to that?

Patrick: I'm always prepared. Whenever they call my name, that's up to [the coaches].

VM: What is it like knowing that you've always got to be ready over there, but you really haven't had much of a chance to show what you could do [until the Ole Miss game]?

Brian: That's what we practice for. It's just the same in the game as it is in practice. You work hard in practice, so that when you get out there in the game, it's the same thing.

VM: But has it been a little frustrating for you that you haven't really had the chance to kick?

Brian: Not really. They just put me in there when they put me in there, and I'll do my job.


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