Originally created 05/04/01

Johnson speaks at local club meeting



One of the few things Paul Johnson hasn't conquered is the game of golf. And sporting a low handicap, Johnson's not too bad at that either.

The fourth-year Georgia Southern football coach, who said he has a 6 or 7 handicap, was in town Thursday and played a round of golf at The Club at Jones Creek. In the evening, he spoke to about 200 people at the Georgia Southern Greater Augusta Eagle Club meeting at Savannah Rapids Pavillion.

"We get a lot of support from Augusta," he said. "We've had a lot of great football players from the Augusta area. We have a lot of alumni here, so it's important to come up and stay in touch and tell 'em what's going on."

Last season, the Eagles went 13-2 en route to Johnson's second consecutive Division I-AA national championship. In four years, Johnson has guided Georgia Southern to a 50-8 mark. Also, Johnson has been named the American Football Coaches Association's Division I-AA Coach of the Year the past two seasons.

"Certainly there are high expectations with our program, but we have high expectations ourselves," he said. "It's a lot more fun if you win, no matter what you do."

In defense of its title for the second straight year, Georgia Southern returns 15 starters, including quarterback J.R. Revere and fullback Adrian Peterson. After gaining more than 5,300 yards in 30 games his first two seasons, Peterson rushed for 2,056 yards last season. Revere passed for 1,639 yards and rushed for another 976.

"We've got some key guys returning, but we've got to replace some key people in the secondary," Johnson said. "Chris Johnson's going to be hard to replace at receiver."

Johnson said the Blue-White game two Saturdays ago was nothing more than an exhibition. While the Blue squad defeated the White squad 3-2, Johnson held out Revere and Peterson.

"We pitched a no-hitter up until about the fifth inning," Johnson said. "What we try to do in the spring is draft a team and get 'em divided. And we hold a lot of guys out."

This is the one time of year when Johnson doesn't worry about football. In May, he'll make five or six trips to booster clubs around the state. In late July, he'll prepare for his fifth season at the helm in Statesboro, Ga.

"Each year is different," he said. "And it's the old adage of `What have you done for me lately?' Starting in August, we may as well as forget the past."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222.