Bobby Johnson talks Florida and more

Bobby Johnson spoke to the Nashville media on Monday at McGugin center. Read on for audio and text of the conference.

Go to bottom of page for audio on conference:

Opening Statement by Vanderbilt football head coach Bobby Johnson

"It is great to be here after a win. I am very proud of our players for going up to Durham and being aggressive at the start of the game. We had to hold on a little bit there at the end, but sometimes those things happen. I was very happy to come out of there with a win.

"Hopefully we can use some of that momentum to get ready for the Gators. They are awfully talented. They have a great defense, a stable full of receivers, an experienced quarterback ­ just everything that you can ask of a football team. They are pretty complete. They are good on special teams, so we have our work cut out for us."

MEDIA: What do you make of the two quarterback system that Florida is going with right now? Does it make them harder to defend?

Johnson: "It is pretty distinctive what they do with Tim Tebow when he comes in there. He is a force running the football. Everybody knows that when he comes in, he's running the football, but I haven't seen anyone stop him yet. Georgia did a pretty good job with it. [Tebow] gets in there and is certainly a threat to throw it, and that keeps you from just getting everyone up there to stop him. They have a good scheme and they use it very well."

MEDIA: How much different or better does (quarterback) Chris Leak look as a senior?

Johnson: "I have always thought that he is a very good quarterback. He is a cool customer and knows what they are trying to do. I haven't seen him get very stressed in there. He made a bunch of third down plays against us last year and a bunch of big plays that kept drives alive. I have a lot of respect for him, and I think he does a great job.

MEDIA: How important is it that Chris Nickson comes into the Florida game off an excellent performance against South Carolina?

Johnson: "I am glad that you asked that. I was very proud of Chris this past weekend. A lot of people doubted what he could do, but he worked hard in practice, his coaches had faith in him, his teammates had faith in him and he came through in grand fashion. I don't know many quarterbacks that have had those statistics in a game and I am very happy that he was chosen SEC Offensive Player of the Week. I think that was well deserved. And we think Chris Nickson can get better. That is the great thing about it. He certainly gives defenses a problem trying to tackle him and he also throws the ball well. So we think we have a great weapon there.

MEDIA: What is the defensive approach that you guys will take against Florida?

Johnson: "Obviously, you have got to see what they do and you have to game plan for that. If you don't, they will outnumber you, outflank you and take advantage. You have to be multiple in what you do, but if you try and have five defenses and just try and adjust each of those defenses against every set you see, you don't have enough practice time (to accomplish the task). So you work on your fundamentals and get those down. Hopefully, if you have designed each defense correctly, the players should be in position at least to defend everything that they do."

MEDIA: How are you guys shaping up defensively in terms of injuries?

Johnson: Well, we don't know. We didn't do a whole lot yesterday because we were banged up. We went out and stretched a little bit and ran just a little bit trying to get the soreness out of them. Today is going to be a big day for treatment. We'll find out a bunch from Tom (Bossung) and his staff on the status of some of our players."

MEDIA: Does the absence of a bye week hurt you at this time of the year with guys as banged up as they are?

Johnson: "I think so. At times during the Duke game we were searching the sidelines for people to put in there. A (cornerback) dislocated his wrist and he is the backup nickel back, and the starter was hurt, so Josh (Allen) had to jump in there and volunteer to play nickel for us. I thought he did a fine job, never having practiced for it. You get some of those kinds of situations when you can't get people healed up and you don't have the extra week to practice a guy at different positions. Yes, it all adds up. But we can't do anything about it."

MEDIA: What wasn't the defensive line doing last year that they are doing now that can be attributed to Coach (Rick) Logo?

Johnson: "I think it is a lot of technique work that Coach Logo has worked with our linemen on. They're also all a year older, and getting better and better as they go. Coach (David) Turner did a fine job with our guys and Coach Logo has taken advantage of some guys who are coming back and taught them a few new things. Also, we have moved around. We moved Coach Fowler to work with the defensive ends. He was working with the linebackers last year so we just made a little change there to help Coach Logo. When you get that kind of concentrated coaching, they are going to respond, there is no doubt about it. We thought that (direction) was in our best interest, and I think it has paid off for us."

MEDIA: Was Coach Logo a guy that you targeted when Turner left?

Johnson: "He sure was. Coach Logo played at N.C. State. He was coached by several guys on our staff so they knew what kind of a person he is and the kind of competitor he is. We followed his coaching career. He was at Chattanooga and then he was at Troy. All those guys, we sort of keep in touch with each other and know where everyone is and what they are doing and we were very fortunate to be able to lure him to Vanderbilt."

MEDIA: How much urgency did you feel last week representing the SEC against an ACC team?

Johnson: "We do, we always do when we play out of conference. We feel like we want to uphold the tradition of the SEC, but that is secondary. Obviously we want to win for our program, our players, and our fans. But it is good to have that out-of-conference record up high because a lot of recruits look at that. They want to see who is the best conference and who has the best winning percentage."

MEDIA: Do you feel like your program right now might be the blueprint for how an academic school might achieve some success on the football field?

Johnson: "As far as us being a blueprint for anybody, I don't know about that. We certainly have similar type situations with Duke. We can look at each other and see what a tough job each program has. We try and do a few things that they do. That's the give and take of playing somebody and being a rival, but also looking to see how they run their program."

MEDIA: You obviously don't need any added motivation to get up for a game like the one last year against Florida, but do you play off the sting of last year's double overtime loss to Florida?

Johnson: "I don't know if it is the sting, but we try and play off the fact that we played well in their stadium and had a chance to won the game. We tell our guys that if we execute and do our jobs, that we are going to have a chance to win. If you go out there and say this is Florida and we don't have a chance to beat them, then we certainly won't. I think you get a little bit of confidence that we played them well and had a chance to win ­ not just played well but we had a real chance to win that game. We are disappointed that we didn't."

MEDIA: What part of Florida's game scares you the most and makes you feel like you have stop Saturday?

Johnson: "Well, you have to stop their running game or they will just continue to pound you. When you do that, they certainly have a bevy of receivers that can hurt you. I mean, they have got them coming from everywhere, guys that can hurt you at any time on any one play. So as you are up there battling to stop the run, you had better be sound against the play action pass and then when they get in true need-to-pass situations, they also execute that well. Their special teams and their defense is unbelievable. I am a defensive coach, so I sort of start thinking about stopping their offense, but their defense is really special."

MEDIA: Is (Florida's) offense as unique as people make it out to be?

Johnson: "It is different than anybody else in the league, yeah. We're probably the closest to whatever they do. They run some option and we have run some option before. So hopefully we understand option football, but that doesn't help you tackle those guys and beat the blocks. You still have to beat blocks and make tackles. They have got some tough athletes to do that against."

Please click on the link below to listen to Coach Johnson's entire conference (20 minutes):


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