PAUL JOHNSON: Good morning. Certainly disappointed in the outcome of the Clemson game. I think Clemson is an outstanding football team for sure. We did not play particularly well. So you put those two things together, and you end up losing by two touchdowns, as we did.
Looking forward to having a chance to playing again this week and seeing if we can’t right some of the mistakes we made this week.
Q. Virginia has defensively improved this year, but they’re much better against the pass than the run. I’m curious, what do you see in their scheme or their personnel that has made that the case?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’ve got some really good players. Certainly Andrew Brown is a dynamic player up front. He’s kind of a difference maker. You’ve got the Blanding kid at safety, Kiser at linebacker. They’ve got several good individual players, and they play well as a team. They’re well-coached on defense, they know what they want to do, and play hard and run to the ball.
Q. They’ve been playing without their outside linebacker No. 17, Cook. They’ve also been without a corner, Juan Thornhill. What is the difference from what you’ve seen with those guys in the lineup versus out of the lineup?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I don’t know that there’s a big difference in the scheme or what they’re doing. They’re both good players, but I think at this time of year everybody is playing without guys. That’s just part of it. When you get to — for us, this is game 8. When you get to there, we’re probably down two or three guys, and I’m sure everybody that plays is. You know, I expect those guys will be back this week. If they are, I don’t think it’s going to change the way they play. I mean, they’re going to line up and play the same way.
Q. I saw in your game notes that you are the least penalized team in I’m not sure whether it’s the country or the conference. Do you do anything special that enables you to be less penalized?
PAUL JOHNSON: I don’t know about special. I mean, I think that we try to be disciplined and try to be poised. You know, we’ll have officials during fall camp in practice pretty much every day, but I think some of it’s probably the nature of what we do, as well.
Q. Will it be your expectation in this early signing period that the kids that are committed will be signing?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’re all individual, but yeah, most of them. I would think if you’re committed, then you would be signing. If you’re not ready to sign, then you probably aren’t committed. That would be the way I look at it.
Q. I know with kids taking visits other places, would you kind of approach it the same way, that if you’re not signing, then we’re going to go ahead and recruit that spot?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think as long as kids are looking, you have to be looking. That’s usually the way it works. I mean, you’d be pretty stupid to sit and hold pat and let them visit five schools and not recruit somebody else, and then at the end they decide they’re going somewhere else and you don’t have anybody. You know, as long as we’ve got kids committed in the numbers, we don’t bring kids in for those positions. But if they start visiting, then you have to visit kids, too.
Q. Bronco Mendenhall has spoken about his passion for defending against option games. As you’ve gone against him over the years, has that been a particular challenge for you any different than what you see on a weekly basis?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think he does a good job coaching. I mean, it wasn’t a big deal — they played us very well defensively here a year ago. We hit them with some big plays. But all in all, defensively they played really well. You know, I don’t know about that. My passion is playing against 3-4 teams; I don’t know. It’s something, we’re going to play the game. They beat us twice, I think, when he was at BYU and we beat them last year. You know, I’m sure it’ll be a tough, hard-fought game, and the kids on the field will decide who executes the best. We’ll both have a plan. He’ll have a plan, we’ll have a plan. That’s the way it works.
Q. I know you guys get breakdowns on pretty much everything. They’ve been very good, Virginia, defensively on 3rd down. You guys obviously are the best in the conference at converting on 3rd down. In terms of their 3rd down defense, do you notice a difference of success? Are most of those pass stops 3rd and long, or have they been good in 3rd and short situations?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they’ve been probably good in all of it. We don’t really break that down as far as whether it’s runs or passes on 3rd down. We do it by distance, which is more than what the thing is. I think the key to being good on 3rd down defense is you have to get people in 3rd and longs, which means that they’re creating some negative plays and loss of yardage plays, and when they get people in 3rd and long, I’m sure with their nickel and what they’re doing they create a lot of problems.
Q. Is this a different Virginia squad than you played them last year? Are they improving this year over last year?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think so. I think they’re certainly better. They came out of the gate really strong, and they kind of hit a buzz saw against BC, but BC has been playing well. And then last week at Pitt, that game kind of got out of hand with the punt return, I think it kind of changed the game. But yeah, I think they’re better. They’re experienced. It’s a lot of the same kids, same guys, and year two in Bronco’s system, and yeah, they’re much better than they were a year ago.