Head Coach Bobby Johnson Weekly Press Conference
November 4, 2002

Coach Johnson's Opening Statement
"For anyone who saw the game, the mistakes we make when we play a team of that caliber are magnified. We are not a team that can afford any types of mistakes. When we give teams like Alabama a chance to score or put us in long yardage situations where we make mental errors or penalties, we are just shooting ourselves in the foot. I don't think that was the cause of the final outcome, but I think we could have done a whole lot better if we would have been a little bit sharper and smarter."

Q: Are more of the team's mistakes made because of the constant lineup changes due to injuries?
A: "It's pretty tough when you are looking around every week trying to figure out who is going to be able to play and what position they are going to be able to play. I'm proud of the way our guys hang in there while playing hurt."

Q: It seemed you were on the officials pretty hard and a couple of players complained about holding by Alabama players?
A: "In my opinion, that is the way the game is played now. The officials weren't necessarily wrong, but that's just the way the game is called these days. It's tough when you see a guy using good technique trying to get away from another guy, and he's got an illegal hold of him. It's frustrating to see that guy get frustrated on the field. Officials do a good job. It's a tough game to officiate because there are big players running around real fast, which makes it hard to see everything going on."

Q: Have you ever coached a team that faced this type of injury situation?
A: "In 1998, while I was at Furman, we had an unbelievable amount of injuries and it all seemed to be at one position. That's when it gets you. One injury at each position probably won't hurt you as much, but when they all happen at the same place it can hurt."

Q: Coach, it seems like you have a lot of freshmen getting playing time because of the injuries. Does that worry you as a coach?
A: "You worry about that, but on the other hand you look out there and they're playing hard and doing what you ask them to do. I don't think they have let it bother them yet. When you have as many injuries as we have and you have to get those guys in there, that's the only recourse you have. I think it is valuable experience. I would much rather have Antoine Morgan and other freshmen redshirting and learning from the sidelines. I think it will help them next year. I hope this will whet their appetite to go out there and play hard and play well."

Q: Then you have an opponent like Florida. After seeing Alabama's defense, now you get to face an offense that looks like it's starting to get its act together.
A: "They (Florida) are terrific on offense. They like to spread you out. They cover the short and long passes, and when your defense spreads out, they do a good job of running Ernest Graham on the inside. They certainly are going to test us, but it's not a whole lot different from what we see every week. We have some talented people in this league. It's our responsibility to get ready to play and do our very best. I keep telling our guys that if we keep doing best and playing as hard as we can play, that's all we can ask them to do."

Q: Florida seems like they are having a up-and-down season, losing one week , then coming back and beating Auburn and Georgia. How do you explain this?
A: "It's just the nature of the league. There's no telling what you are going to get from week-to-week. I think Georgia had a great chance to do a lot of damage in the first half (vs. Florida), but (Rex) Grossman made two great tackles to save touchdowns, which eventually led to field goals. That was probably the difference in that game. They (Georgia) had a chance to doing something special in the first half, but couldn't get it done which change the entire complexion of the game."

Q: Coach, will you stay with Mac Pyle on the offensive line?
A: "Mac (Pyle) was way too hard on himself. He was taking the blame for the whole game. He's young and wants to do well. He wants to prove that he can play, which he can. He will be a very good football player for us. That wasn't Mac's fault. We've just got to get him ready, and we need to give him a better chance to succeed. We are very pleased with Mac, and he is going to be a very good player."

Q: Coach, with all your injuries, can you point to one primary area of improvement so far this season?
A: "I think we played much better on defense last week against Alabama. I thought the guys were going to the football and playing with some reckless abandon. We had a lot of people at the point of attack. If there is one area that has improved, it is our run defense. When there are certain guys in there who haven't played before and you have guys who are injured, it's hard to say you haven't improved. You would like to say we have improved in other areas, but due to injuries it has prevented that."

Q: Coach, all the remaining games appear difficult. How do you keep the young players from getting down on everything?
A: "I don't think anybody is letting their head hang so far. I think our guys are realistic when looking at the schedule and saying we have to play really well to win. That's been no secret all year long. Nobody has quit, and nobody has come to me and asked me to put somebody else in because they didn't want to play. I'm proud of our guys for that. If we play our best and somebody else plays their best and beats us, there is not much we can do about it. If we don't play our best, that is what upsets me, the coaches and the players."



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