Sept. 12, 2006
Gohuskies.com caught up with Johnie Kirton to ask him how he felt about playing last Saturday against Oklahoma. Kirton was pushed to the top of the depth charts after Michael Gottlieb and Robert Lewis were injured in the first game of the season.
Gohuskies.com: When you were in there, you got more of a chance to play more minutes than you were used to. What was that like?
Johnie Kirton: It definitely wasn't the way I wanted to get it, having all of my teammates get hurt and stuff like that, but stepping up to the challenge has been fun and I'm always up for it. The transition isn't really that different, starting and not starting means playing, so I'm just trying to do my job out there and have fun with it.
Gohuskies.com: It seems like whenever there is a pass thrown not to a receiver, it is you making the catch. And often times it is a pretty big catch for the team. What has it been like to be able to contribute the way that you have?
JK: It's always good. It's always rewarding seeing my teammates give me love for big catches or a big first down. But then again, for myself, I expect that, and I expect myself to make big plays like that. So it's fun and I'm always up for it.
Gohuskies.com: Obviously, right here we see Louis Rankin right now ranked eighth in the nation in running and leading the Pac-10. Talk about the role you have when you are running the football?
JK: It's always rewarding. For example, that first play is what we talked about all week against Oklahoma. Just run downhill all week at them and do what we do and to see that first run play break was really rewarding because that is all we worked on last. I love to see him go and when I see him break I am always trying to chase him to get on the camera, show him some love!
Gohuskies.com: What's the locker room like with this team?
JK: I feel that we all know that we can win. And I mean the guys that traveled to Oklahoma coming back home, we knew that we could win, that game. There is definitely more pep in our step in the locker room. It is not as down as in the past and people don't get down on little things. We are actually really confident right now.
Gohuskies.com: Talking about that Oklahoma game, what was the locker room like at halftime? Going in and doing better than anyone outside of this program expected you to be doing at that point.
JK: A lot of guys had the look in their eyes that we can't be beat and we won't be beat, which is normally not the case especially in the last couple years at halftime. We looked down or tired and not very confident going into the second half, but this last weekend was something different. Which is a good thing. We will let it show for the rest of the season.
Gohuskies.com: How do you carry that into the second half? Does Coach Willingham change up what he does, or does he try to get you to remember what it was like in the first half of the Oklahoma game?
JK: He just says at halftime that the first two quarters are over, and we have to move on and finish the last two. And last week he said that we have to play five quarters to beat `em. Unfortunately we didn't, but he helps a lot in the halftime talks.