GSN sat down with Ryan Allison on media day to find out more about his transition to WILL linebacker…
Will Johnson Goes Long
Will Johnson: "Yeah, I think this summer really helped out. It just re-firmed up my body. It made me a lot more put together, like lower body strength, just put together, move a lot better."
Question: Do you have to watch what you eat? Did you watch what you ate this summer?
Will Johnson: "We had a lot more stuff down in the weight room, like nutritional stuff that helped out. It gave more like a healthy side to what I ate. Yeah, I watched a lot more of what I ate this summer."
Question: I think that Tim Jamison that called you a freak of nature in the weight room. Are you pretty happy with the gains you have made in the bench and everything else?
Will Johnson: "Yeah. I made some improvements this summer. I am happy with it."
Question: What was the biggest jump for you in what lift?
Will Johnson: "Strength, bench probably. I did 545 twice. None of that in clean. I don't how much it is, like 325, I don't know a few times. I am happy with it. It was a good offseason."
Question: It seems like everybody is happy around here right about now. There are smiles on people's face, it seems like you guys are really having fun.
Will Johnson: "I think we are in really good shape and once you have that…when you are fatigued, it makes cowards out of everybody. When you are in good shape, you can have a lot more fun, you can kid around and coaches can joke around with you more, because you are not messing up the drills, making mental mistakes and stuff like that."
Question: How much pride do you guys take in that? Because that really seems to be the sentiment in camp this year is that everybody is in shape.
Will Johnson: "Ahh, we still got a ways to go. We are not in game shape. That will come with time, different movements and stuff that you don't really get with not playing football, hitting into another guy. Mike Barwis did a great job just teaching us how to move, in and out of movements, getting maximum speed. We are in good shape."
Question: Defensively, Rich Rod said, he was going to count on your unit to kind of pick up the slack because the offense is going to make mistakes early on. Do you take pride in that?
Will Johnson: "Did he say D-line."
Question: D-line, defensive as a whole because you got so many people….
Will Johnson: "Oh yeah. We all take pride. We always want to do great things on defense. D-line, I hope has a great year. I think we have a lot of great talent, a lot of depth at tackle and end, and I think we will be good."
Question: You have been around for a while, what is the atmosphere like around here? How is it different?
Will Johnson: "Different? I mean it is not really changed, football is football. We got different coaching staff, but it all comes down to basic fundamentals, and I am just excited to play."
Question: What about the music (that was playing during practice)?
Will Johnson: "Yeah it is a switch up from last year, golden oldies. I liked it. It gets you pumped up I guess. We will have to get some better music out there."
Question: Does it get you pumped up like Cinderella Man or oldies? What do you think?
Will Johnson: "I don't know. I like it though. It gets you a little rhythm going before practice."
Question: Talk about Terrance's (Taylor) transformation a little bit and how proud and happy you are to see him really buy in the off season?
Will Johnson: "Yeah I am. I privileged to play next to him. He is a great nose guard. It will help me out. I will help him. He made a lot of great strides this summer. He dropped a lot of weight, which is going to help him out a lot. He is moving a lot better. I am just happy for him."
Question: You said it took a while for him to buy in, could you sense that early with him and when did the switch happen?
Will Johnson: "He struggled somewhat, but he came around. I don't know probably at the beginning of the summer. He is in great shape now. Towards the end of summer he was killing runs and lifting ridiculous weight, so yeah, he is a good player."
Question: What do you guys do when you go no pads offense versus defense on the lines? Do you guys just push around a little bit?
Will Johnson: "Yeah, you can't hit hard. It is basically just get your hands out, keep your helmets out of it and keep your elbows off people's shoulders. I mean it is just try and do technique stuff."
Question: Weight wise Will, where are you? Did you drop a little weight?
Will Johnson: "About 285 right now, about the same as last year, maybe a couple pounds lighter. I feel good. I am just firmed up a little bit, got everything put together. A lot more core stuff, Mike Barwis has helped me out a lot."
Question: Will you have been through first days a number of times, is this a different first day than other years?
Will Johnson: "I mean it is a different schedule. It is all set up different. No, I think it was a good day overall, other than the running at the end; we have never really done that before. I think everybody really did well in that area. No, it was a good first day."
Question: Where they timing you at the end?
Will Johnson: "We ran five-fifths, so it was once around the field five times and big guys ran it in like 80 seconds, small guys 60 seconds. We lifted this morning, squats and stuff, so our legs were already dead. We are in good shape. I am impressed."
Question: You mentioned the D-line before, how good can this D-line be with all the vets that you got coming back?
Will Johnson: "Hopefully one of the best in the nation. I mean, we got four returning starters, we got a lot depth; just got a lot of talent, I think."
Question: Is this defensive much different for you guys? Do you guys personally up front have to change much with Rod's defense?
Will Johnson: "Do we have to change?" Question: Yeah compared to last year, how much different is it for you guys?
Will Johnson: "Our whole thing is we are attacking the offense. We are going the line of scrimmage, put it in their backfield and then we will react compared to what they do. It is not that much different. You are trying to tackle the ball carrier and hit the quarterback."
Question: Is that a (Scott) Shafer thing, is that a Shafer trademark, is that coming from him or is that from Coach Rodriguez or where is that…?
Will Johnson: "That is more Shafer's thing. He wants everybody to come downhill make plays. So we are trying to make big plays."
Question: Do you like that? Is that an easy thing to do, kind of be aggressive like that all the time?
Will Johnson: "Yeah, yeah. I would rather do that instead of reading people and playing slow. But…yeah."
Question: On Brandon Graham's progress
Will Johnson: "Ahh, yeah BG came a long way from spring ball. He was struggling a little bit. Towards the middle of the summer, yeah you could see his attitude totally change, and he actually got in shape. He could be goofing around and stuff; he is going to be a freak this year."
Question: Do you have any impressions of Mike Martin or any of the young guys that have come in?
Will Johnson: "Mike Martin, he is solid coming in. He has got great technique and he has just got to do a couple little things. So far from what I have seen, he is in good shape. He is running with the front of the pack. I will be expecting things from him this year."
Question: Do you have any reaction to being ranked 24th in the preseason coach's poll?
Will Johnson: "No, don't really care about that. Worry about that at the end of the year and see where we are."
Question: How do you feel the (about the adjustment) to Coach Rodriguez? Do you think it has been pretty fast or would you describe it as gradual or work in progress?
Will Johnson: "I would say it is a work in progress. I mean everybody adjusts differently. I kind of adjusted fast. Playing football is playing football. It is a different staff. A lot of guys probably took a lot longer to adjust to the different schedules and stuff. I think it took some time, but I think everybody has got their stuff together and are ready to go."
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