Bobby Johnson's Weekly Press Conference
September 23, 2002

Opening Statement
"We're certainly disappointed that we lost to the (Ole Miss) game, but we are encouraged by other signs. We are getting better offensively and on special teams, but defensively we struggled. We played fairly well in the first half, but in the second half we allowed too many big plays and too many opportunities to convert on third down. We are going to work really hard on that and try to get better."

Q: Do you expect South Carolina running back Andrew Pinnock to play?
A: "He is big, talented football player and hard to tackle, and I expect to see him in the game. He has been a good player for them, and I'm sure they are trying to get him straightened out on a few things and will have him ready to go this weekend."

Q: What are your feelings about Kwane Doster not being named SEC "Special Teams Player of the Week"?
A: "It's kind of surprising. Not only did he have the kickoff return yardage, he also had 101 yards rushing. That's a pretty good days work, and it would seem like he would be rewarded for it. But that's the way it goes. I think you are going to have to get in there and prove you can win in this league, and show everybody that you've got players that can compete."

Q: Can you talk about the performance of Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning?
A: "He is pretty good. Our goal was to stop the run, and we probably did that too well. With that, it allowed him to pass the football. He's that type of quarterback - he makes plays. We need playmakers on defense, and right now we are searching for those guys. I think we have a few on offense that can make plays, but on defense we are going to have to find some guys who can overcome our coaching and make some plays."

Q: How gratifying was it to see your players hang in the game despite being down by a large margin at one point?
A: "I really appreciated our guys for hanging in there. The good thing about getting behind when we did was that we had plenty of time left. We didn't have to panic. We could run on our offense, which I feel is pretty hard to defend. I was very proud of our guys for hanging in there. We were able to defend two series in a row in order for us to get back into the game, making two good stops against their offense. We just couldn't get it done on their last drive when they converted three first downs."

Q: What do you do as a coach to keep you players motivated when trailing by a large margin?
A: "It's just a matter of keeping their confidence up, and being able to do it in a game like we did it in practice."

Q: Did you sense your guys were in pretty good shape following the Ole Miss game?
A: "We were in pretty good shape. Our offensive line played 70 snaps, and I believe Jim May, Jamie Byrum, Justin Geisinger and Kenan Arkan played all of them. Unfortunately, we played 72 snaps on defense with few substitutions. Our guys hung in there pretty well. I thought they were fairly fresh at the end considering that many plays."

Q: With South Carolina's penalty problems, do you feel this is something you can exploit?
A: "I don't know if we can exploit it, but I hope it continues for them. I wish them well in that endeavor."

Q: Were you recruited by both Clemson and South Carolina?
A: "I was recruited by both of them. At the time, they didn't know what they were doing. The main reason I went to Clemson was that my brother was there and Coach Art Baker, who used to coach at Eau Claire High School where I went there, was coaching at Clemson at that time. I was ready to get out of Columbia.

Q: Did you support South Carolina while growing up in the town?
A: "I used to sell drinks during the games at the old Carolina Stadium. We would sell drinks for about a quarter, then watch the game the rest of the way. It was just a way of getting in free."

Q: Can you assess (freshman offensive guard) Mac Pyle's performance?
A: "He did not bad for a freshman. Obviously, that was a pretty tough situation to ask a guy to go in there and start his first SEC game on the road against a pretty quick defense. Matt is going to be a good player for us, and we are anxious to get him more experience so he can become a good player."

Q: Can you talk about Jay Cutler's toughness and maturity?
A: "I don't think he has gotten tougher because he was always tough, but he still has to learn to hang in the pocket. He did a good job, making better decisions and waiting for things to develop."

Q: Discuss the success of your offense - especially your offensive line - in its ability to move the football?
A: "Robbie Caldwell has done a great job with our offensive line, and Ted Cain and the offensive staff do a great job of developing a game plan, which gives our gives the best chance to be successful. That goes a long way with Jay (Cutler) going out and making certain choices that we give him during the game. He picks the plays according to certain looks and gives our guys the best chance at get the best angles at blocking. It's a lot of technique, a lot of play recognition and defensive recognition, but you have to have that to make it work."



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