Press Conference: Miami players Duke Johnson, Denzel Perryman

miamiQ. With LeBron leaving are you the biggest star in Miami right now?

Duke JOHNSON: No, I think D-Wade still has that title.

Q. Second biggest?

Duke JOHNSON: Second, possibly, yeah, I could be second, but it’s still Wade County.

Q. I want you to put your return hat on. Last year there were phenomenal 10 punt returns for touchdowns, six kickoff returns for touchdowns, and that doesn’t count the 95-yarder that you almost brought back. You do, of course, have two career touchdown returns. What has made the ACC all at once such a great return league, and how has it changed the game?

Duke JOHNSON: I think the way the ACC is the return league is we have a lot of guys, a lot of dynamic guys that can return kicks and a lot of unselfish guys that help them return it. I think that’s the main thing is the guys, the other 10 guys who’s blocking and whose responsibility it is to make sure that the 11th guy scores.

Q. After that season-ending injury, just talk about your kind of rehab to where you are right now and your expectations of yourself moving forward with this being your team.

Duke JOHNSON: Right now my rehab, I’m 100 percent. I’m fully back I can say. My expectations for this year is hopefully we can win the Coastal and hopefully we can make it to the ACC Championship. But one of my main things that I’m focusing on is making sure the young guys are caught up, making sure they’re focused and they’re ready because at any given time someone could go down and the next guy in has to take over. We don’t need to miss a beat with the next guy in.

Q. Kind of following up on that, when you found out you were going to play Louisville in the first game, having missed the bowl game, I assume that got you pretty fired up? What are your thoughts about that?

Duke JOHNSON: It’ll be an exciting game. It really didn’t matter if we played them the first game or the sixth game of the season. It really wouldn’t matter because we still had the same bitter taste in our mouth from the last game of the season, and we still would have remembered it. We’re looking forward to that game, just go out there and have a great time.

Q. How much talent is there on the offensive side of the football this year?

Duke JOHNSON: We have talent at every position. We’re deep at receivers, running backs, and our quarterbacks. Right now it’s a toss-up on who’s going to be the quarterback to start the season off. Our starting quarterback ryan williams got hurt in the spring, but we’re expecting him back soon, within the first four games, to get us back and get ready for the season.

Q. With the injury, I’m sure that watching your team play made you hungry to come out this season, so is there anything you’re going to do differently as far as going full out every game, every play?

Duke JOHNSON: I wouldn’t say that that’s the reason why I’m going full out. I believe you should go full out regardless if you got hurt or not. Every game you should go out because you never know when that play might come where you can’t play anymore. It’s been my goal since I’ve been playing football to go out every play and every game and go 100 percent, and that’s what I’m going to do, and I’m going to make sure everybody else around me does the same.

Q. Inaudible.

Duke JOHNSON: I’m going to give you a new perspective as far as coaching and looking on as a coach rather than a player, you’re seeing it from a different angle when you’re a coach than when you’re actually out there. It’s more humbling and more — it’s hard to coach when you’re so used to being out there.

 

DENZEL PERRYMAN

Q. What does Duke mean?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: Personally because when he first got here I was the first roommate, we just talked football and he was talking about all the things that he was going to do. When I first watched him go down, I was like, man, I can’t believe this is happening. At the same time we had to move on and pretty much went out there and played for him.

Q. The identity of the defense right now in your mind, how would you describe it?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: The identity right now, we’re focused on the tournament. Last year we started off pretty good, but like I said earlier in the interview, we started up here, but as games went on, we started just (inaudible) we went from being a real good defense to cutting games real close on our behalf, and at the end of the season, our last season games, it wasn’t the best last season games. We lost four of those six. But coming into this year we have a lot of focus and there’s nobody left behind us as far as nothing on defense.

Q. What do you remember about the Russell Athletic Bowl against Louisville last season, and do you like the fact that you guys get them right out of the gate to begin this year?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: Just remember, last year I just remember being embarrassed after the game, and I was just like, we just got embarrassed out here. Like Duke said, whether we play them in the first game, last game, middle of the season, we’re getting after them.

Q. Can you talk about — we talked with the Virginia Tech guys about this, not being good, just getting to a bowl game but being great again, where Miami once was. How much is that talked about or discussed?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: I mean, as far as like players wise, we talk about it a lot. (Inaudible) down the field, guys make plays, nobody better — I tell them like show your role. It’s more than just talking about it. You’ve actually got to be about it. I tell the guys, that’s what we want to do, then we’ve got to be 100 percent in it.

Q. How much do those players from past championships still have an influence or are in contact with you guys? Are they around a lot?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: Yeah, Jonathan Vilma, Jimmy Graham, he was on the national championship team, DJ Williams, Santana Moss, they work out in the mornings, so a lot of players, they still come to the weight room in the morning and sit and chat and talk with those guys. I talk to Vilma almost every morning.  You can see the influence that they have on some of the players. Some of the guys know to come in, and it can be a freshman and a guy is like DJ Williams, that’s Santana Moss out there on the field, that’s Reggie Wayne. Some guys go up and talk to them, I talk to Vilma every morning, he and DJ Williams actually, and the message that they give me, I just push to the team.

Q. Denzel, last year the defense gave up 42 percent of 3rd-down attempts by the opposition. How do you cut that number down? How are you better on 3rd down?

DENZEL PERRYMAN: It’s just being precise. One thing we say, you’ve got to be precise in the pressing package. So whether we’re blitz, or whether we’re in coverage, we just need to be precise and make sure everybody is doing (inaudible).

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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