Five Questions with Al Johnson

Badger senior captain Al Johnson talks about UNLV on film, last week's game against Fresno State, his impressions of the UW defense and more.


Q: Were you pleased with what you saw when you reviewed the tape from the Fresno State game?

Johnson: For the most part yes. We didn't make a regression from where we ended last year. I think we definitely moved forward and got better from where we were the last game of last season. From that standpoint, I think we did a lot better and I'm really happy about that. Now we just have to keep improving, keep working to make sure we don't regress at all. I think for the most part though, the mistakes, the things that were off weren't huge things. They were just little things we can correct. We're real close to where we want to be. We just have to get it tightened down.

Q: It looked like at the beginning of the game, you were blowing Fresno State's defense off the ball. Were they not ready for the size and power of your line at first?

Johnson: I think maybe we didn't ease into it. I think you see a lot of teams in their first game, the first quarter or two, they kind of feel their way around. We just wanted to come out fast and be aggressive and if you did make a mistake, make it full speed. I think that's kind of the attitude we took in there, and I think that's kind of the way we played. I think for the most part we just have to eliminate the little things on certain plays that didn't make the play go. We can fix those.

Q: What do you see from UNLV on film?

Johnson: It's a different scheme, and different schemes bring different aspects of the game that you have to get nailed down to become successful. They play more of a straight-up 4-3 defense without a lot of rocking, a lot of safety blitz. Also in that same aspect, in the back of your mind you have to know, it's the first game of the year for them. They've had all offseason, so they could change a few little things that we might just have to adjust as we go.

Q: What's your evaluation of the UW defense at this point?

Johnson: They are a hungry bunch, guys that want to get out there and play good football, and be remembered as a team that really is a hard-nosed, fast defense and they are really playing like it. They are playing inspired and I couldn't be happy for them. Those guys are working really hard and it makes us better too because we practice against them every day. It's a relationship that gives both ways. The better look that we give them, we make each other better.

Q: You've been through a lot of games like last week's game, where you've come out on the losing end, like Oregon last year. Did simply winning that game give the team some much-needed confidence?

Johnson: That's a big thing to see. We didn't want to be in that situation, being down three times in the game and having to come back, but on the other hand, it's a good sign to see that, because you are going to have games like that where the momentum swings and it's good to see that we ended on top when the last second rang off. We have been on the losing end of some of those games. It's good to see this team has that competitive edge that never quits. That just shows that we have something special here if we just keep working at it.

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