New Southern Miss head coach Ellis Johnson addressed the media for the first time during a game week this season to discuss the Golden Eagles game plan heading into its week one contest against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The focal point of the press conference, to no one's surprise, was how the Golden Eagles plan to counter Nebraska's lethal offense.
"Nebraska is a spread offense by formation and tempo. They have a very physical nature to it and that's what is going to be the challenge for our guys. I think we're fast enough to get into position," stated Johnson. "We're going to have to tackle some bigger, stronger running backs than we have been. I think that's going to be the whole difference, yards after contact."
"They've obviously lost a few players - not many, most of them in the offensive line - but the scheme is going to be almost identical," said Johnson. "They are a handful and they have that physical mentality that they used to have back in the 70's and 80's."
He then went on to explain how challenging it is to prepare for a team that runs "every different option you can imagine," especially when they have one of the deepest and most talented backfields in the nation.
"They have a stable of running backs. Every one of them could start for a lot of college teams," added Johnson. "The quarterback is a running back. He's over 200 lbs., and can fly. He's very quick. He's been criticized about his throwing, but if you go back and check the completion percentage and his interceptions versus touchdowns, he's very effective."
Later in the press conference, Johnson spoke very highly regarding senior running back Rex Burkhead and just how dominant of a player he is.
"I don't think we've tackled a back that physical and fast. I'm sure they've not seen one in several years. He is mentioned in some Heisman consideration and is very versatile," continued Johnson. "They even have some things - you can call them trick plays if you want to - but they will line him up under center and the quarterback becomes the tail back."
Additional Notes from the C-USA Coaches Teleconference:
*Johnson announced that redshirt junior Chris Campbell will start at quarterback against Nebraska. But the Huskers should expect to see redshirt freshman Ricky Lloyd and freshman Anthony Alford at some point in the game.
*He believes Campbell is the "steadier" and more "consistent" quarterback of the three. *When asked if there's an area Southern Miss has the upper hand in against Nebraska, he stated that his team has no advantage at any position and that their weakest point lies in their youth.
*Johnson feels this is a "big challenge" for the Golden Eagles, but noted that "we don't measure ourselves playing programs outside of our conference"
- Josh Harvey -
Kyle Phillippi covers the Big Ten Conference for BigRedReport.com. His work has also been featured in Big Red Report Magazine and FoxSports.com.
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