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
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
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
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
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