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March 29, 2013

HD: Johnson talks spring ball and more

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HOW'S SPRING PRACTICE GOING? It's been a typical first two days of practice regardless of what we're running. We've kind of loaded them up with a lot of things. For the most part, the retention on the field has been pretty good. We've had a lot of meeting time, a lot of film time, and a lot of preparation off the field, but especially with a late start on the calendar. So, from an assignment standpoint, I think a lot of them know what they're doing, but we're busting a lot of assignments on the field when we're going full speed.

I don't really feel like it has anything to do with the particular system we're running. It's just learning a new defense. Learning new verbage. Learning maybe a couple different alignments and those types of things. What short time we've had and without pads, it's very difficult to make a legitimate assessment, but I think we've got most of them in the right place. As we progress in the pads tomorrow and on into next week I think maybe we'll find out a little more about them. But I think we made a couple of moves, like Justin Garrett moved out to the hybrid and some other things like that, that I think some of these guys look like they're in the right place.

TALK ABOUT THE TWO INSIDE LINEBACKER POSITIONS: They're somewhat interchangeable. Physically, they need to be about the same guy, the Mike and the Will. We ask the Mike to do a lot more of the quarterbacking of the defense. The Will probably has a lot more variation in his coverage drops. So both of them have their amount of complication, if you will. I've found the guys that can talk and communicate, and there's some guys that are better at that than others, and usually they end up being a Mike. The one thing the Will has to do a little bit more is he'll do a little bit more blitzes on pass rushes. So those are two things that you have to look for that they've got to be able to do to play there. Right now, I'm rotating a three-way with Frost and McKenzie and Holland, and I'm trying to get Jake to double-learn. He's the oldest one. And I'm doing the same thing with the second group, and I've got Chris Landrum double-learning. Just get through maybe three or four practices and see how that looks.

ON DEPTH AT DEFENSIVE LINE: The one thing I see about them, and I see it almost in every position; I have never been at a college spring practice since the scholarship limits were changed, what, 15, 20 years ago -- Never seen this many live bodies. Now, I'm not saying they're all players. We'll have to find out. But I'm talking about bodies. We are deep. So there's a lot of competition. I think physically, size-wise, we're OK. I don't think we'll really know about the physical toughness at the point of attack and the edge rush until we really put the pads on. Rodney hasn't really said anything about any one player in particular really standing out or being poor. That's a hard position to evaluate before we put on the pads. It's really hard to get a good feel for it. But I do like the fact that we've got a lot of healthy bodies, got a lot of big guys, got a lot of rotation, got a lot of competition.



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