Q&A with SEC Defensive Player of the Week Buddy Johnson


COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Linebacker Buddy Johnson was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week after his performance in Texas A&M's 24-17 win over Ole Miss On Saturday. The junior returned a fumble 62 yards for a touchdown and recorded 10 tackles, including one for a loss.

Here's what Johnson had to say about his performance and about this weekend's game against Mississippi State at Kyle Field on Saturday afternoon:

Q: What kind of honor is it to be named the SEC Defensive Player of the week?

A: It's a big honor for me, but at the end of the day, it's never been about me. Never has been. Never will be. I've always been a team player, and my accomplishments are this team's accomplishments. We've just got to keep working. It's a great accomplishment for us to have.

Q: As soon as you picked the fumble up, did you just see daylight? Did you know you were scoring?

A: I definitely saw daylight. I was seeing through the stands out to the parking lot. … I knew I was going for [a touchdown].

Q: Do you think a play like that can spark a defense and give you some momentum coming down the stretch here?

A: I definitely think that's what it was. That was big on Elijah [Blades] and [Justin] Madubuike for causing a strip sack. Me picking it up and going to score, that was a big momentum change that we needed. 

Q: Why do you think Ole Miss had some big running plays against you guys?

A: I think we had guys missing gaps. Me included. Not being in the right spots. Everyone sees the things that we do right, but nobody sees the things that we do wrong. We just have to get in the film room and correct the small things. We'll be just fine.

Q: Do you think the second half against Ole Miss has been the best half in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback and making some havoc plays?

A: Not the first drive. They came out and drove all the way down the field. We can't have that. But the second half we kind of bit down on our tongues and said, ‘We have to step up and do this.' As a defense, we made strides. We just have to keep making them.

Q: Mississippi State is another team that likes to run the ball and has a quarterback that can run the ball. What did you learn from Ole Miss that you'll hopefully be able to improve on?

A: It was big for us to play a quarterback like this and then play another quarterback like that the next week. We had guys step up. Our defensive line stepped up and did a great job of keeping them contained. We just have to do the same thing next week. Just stick to the game plan and make plays.

Q: Is there a rule of thumb for playing a freshman quarterback?

A: Having to play against a freshman quarterback is big. You put the fire on him, and you see how he unfolds under pressure.

Q: How well is Justin Madubuike playing in front of you?

A: Madubuike is playing phenomenal. My accomplishments should go to Madubuike. He's helped me come free and helped me play fast. Playing behind a guy like Madubuike is awesome. I'm glad he's on my defensive line and not someone else's.

Q: How do you clean up having receivers running free deep? We saw Clifford Chattman turn around and get the interception. Is it a matter of being more physical?

A: I think that was a great pick by him. I think he had great coverage and leverage. That's what it's going to take. Guys having great leverage and knowing the advantage to beat the opponent.

Q: How important was adding a few of the starters onto special teams this week to get things back in a groove?

A: It was big for us. We know that when we played Alabama, we were kind of lacking on special teams. We've been good all season, but we have to dominate in all phases. It was big for guys to step up and be in bigger roles on special teams.

Q: Was it weird not having No. 12 on kickoff?

A: Yeah, it was pretty weird. He normally breaks the huddle, but he's still on punt return and he's still making plays for us. When you have a guy like our 12th Man, he's going to do whatever it takes. That's why I love him. He's a team player, and he knows what it takes. I can't even explain how the guy is. Braden White is just phenomenal.

Q: What kinds of strides is Andre White making?

A: Andre is making big strides for the team and him as a player. He's grown from when he first got here. He's a freshman, and now he's making plays. He made a big sack for us on third down. I just try to keep the linebacker room together and be a leader to those guys. He just has to keep working and he'll be just fine.