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Ellis Johnson Press Conference Quotes, Sept. 3, 2012

Sept. 3, 2012

HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Southern Miss football coach Ellis Johnson addressed the media Monday following the team's season opener last Saturday at Nebraska. The Golden Eagles are idle this week, prior to opening at home Sept. 15 against Conference USA East Division rival, East Carolina.

Opening Statement...
"Obviously we are disappointed that we didn't play better. I preface everything I say with the fact that Nebraska is an exceptionally good football team. After looking at the film, they have a chance to have an outstanding football team. Time will tell. It is the first game of the year and half the teams are 1-0 and half are 0-1. We are certainly one of the teams that are 0-1 and we are disappointed with that, but there were a lot of positives (from the game). We had over 200 yards rushing and I thought our offense executed well. There were a few times where physically where we couldn't get things done, but for the most part did not have a lot of mistakes that killed ourselves and I was really pleased with that. I thought they handled that with poise in a tough environment. Only had one turnover (in the game) and the only thing disappointing was that it was a non-contact, but one turnover in that situation is really good and there were no interceptions. Although the passing game was not prolific, there were no interceptions and that certainly was a good point."

"(We had a) 102-yard kickoff return and (Tracy) Lampley was untouched. A very big part of it is his explosiveness to hit in there and take it the distance with a plus for all the other 10 guys on that return team. That was a heck of a return. We think we probably had another one, but their All-American kicker (Brett Maher) hit it too deep in the end zone for us to bring it out, but it really looked good on the execution and we thought we had a chance for another one. So that is something that we can hopefully build on. Corey Acosta, Peter Boehme and Lance Schuffert were good all day long. Of course Peter handles our holding duties as well as our punting. They were very good all day long and very accountable. It was another positive that we can certainly build on and our kicking game is certainly something that we are going to be able to lean on."

"Jamie Collins had good production. I didn't think it was one of his best games, but he had good production with 13 tackles , three of them for a loss. Even with a tough day for us defensively, he showed up and got some work done. Deron Wilson had 13 tackles and he competed hard."

"Obviously we thought we would perform better in some areas, but there are a lot of bright spots on that film. The open date is a good time for us, although I am sure that we will want it back six or seven weeks down the road and wish we had an open date, but that is just where it falls. It could be a big advantage for us having it right now. We had a great workout yesterday. We cleaned up the film and the players' attitudes were super. Tomorrow, we will get some work done and will be ones-versus.-ones and twos-versus-twos. We will start working on East Carolina as soon as tomorrow and start looking forward to that game. They are certainly going to be a big test. I know our players are looking forward to getting back to The Rock and getting in front of our fans and playing at home. That is always a lot of fun and we have to be patient until that next Saturday hits, but in the meantime we will be working extremely hard."

On Tracy Lampley Getting Enough Touches in the Game...
"We only had 66 snaps, so that is not enough to be able to put together enough touches for every player you want to touch (the football). He did have two of three receptions that we did have from the wide receivers and did a good job all day long in what he was doing. We just didn't complete a lot of vertical passes and we used him coming through the backfield. He had a good shot for a carry one time, but we didn't get the defensive player sealed on the outside. We also wish he could touch it more. Their kicker did an excellent job by pining us back in the end zone and we couldn't bring it our but once or twice. He had a strong leg and the times they kickoff, a majority of them, were with the wind. It just happened that way. Then we only forced one punt. The only way he is going to touch it on punts is that we have to force more punts."

On the Play of the Three Quarterbacks...
"The thing we are going to do this week is work all three of them again. I thought Chris (Campbell) came out very good, steady and handled a very tough environment really well. The production was there and he had two good drives. Our running game began to stall a little bit (before) we put Anthony (Alford) in. The running game then pumped up a little bit and we got better as the game wore on with him in there. The flow of the game kept us from getting Ricky in when we wanted to. It sort of boomeranged on us in that respect. We wanted to have all three to have a good shot to play. We have evaluated them so thoroughly in practice, but sometimes it has to be a game environment before you know and it wasn't a perfect situation to be able to do that. So, right now, Anthony had the brightest day, but they all still have to work on their weaknesses and we still have a good competition there. A lot of people would love to have the depth that we have at that position."

On Possibility on Trying to Narrow it Down to Two QBs Next Week...
"I would have liked to have done that four weeks ago, but it will still be a work in progress. I thought this game tape showed some things where each player can help us and a lot of this decision is what our team is around that player. We obviously have to improve in the vertical passing game - we have got to get more throws downfield - and hit those and that will loosen things up even more."

On the Offensive Line...
"Overall, it was very good. The age factor, when you go into a tough environment like that, sometimes age and experience can be the biggest friends you have. It was sort of obvious that those four old guys up in there that have been around and been in a lot of games before seemed to play more steady and confident than some of the younger players."

On the Team's Attitude Following the Opening Game...
"They are tough, they are fighters and they are hurt. And they should be. That is the way it is. When you are a competitor, failure hurts and you want to improve. That's all they want to do. You have to do two things. I told them one game cannot beat you twice. No. 1, you fix things that were wrong and build on what was good, and No. 2, you move on. We cleaned up the film yesterday and we had a good workout . When we hit the field tomorrow, we have to start looking toward East Carolina and getting better. That is what their attitude is and they are a reflection of everyone associated with this university. They are fighters and they are going to bounce back and when we hit The Rock, we will be ready to play."

On the Status of Kendrick Hardy...
"He should be full speed (this week). It was a very tough decision to leave him home, but he wasn't totally full speed and we have a lot of confidence in those other backs. It would have been good to have another guy there that has been through the ringer and had some experience. He will be back unless something happens between now and then, he will be full speed and ready to go."

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