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TAMPA, Fla. – This afternoon we sat down with offensive lineman Larrell Johnson and his position coach Paul Lounsberry – separately of course. Both had quite a bit to say about each other, being an offensive lineman and what is takes to be a Gamecock. Larrell also let on who is funny and Coach Lounsberry talked about what mindset it takes to be an offensive lineman. So, take a few minutes to sit back and enjoy this visit with two of USC’s finest.

First, we talked to Coach Lounsberry.

Coach, you are our featured coach today.

PL: Wipee!

How was practice today?

PL: I thought it went really well. We are very ready and a bit bored of practicing against each other. We are pretty sharp and then get a bit bored towards the end of practice. Today we worked on a lot of things – our main game plan all day. We have quite a diverse game plan so we were busy.

Is there anyone that you are expecting to have a big game against Ohio State?

PL: I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Pinnock doesn’t have a big game. He is going to have a great game. Ryan Brewer will have a great game. I think if Brian Scott is healthy he will have a big game.

What type of player is Larrell Johnson and what does he bring to the position?

PL: Larrell’s nickname is ‘Tank’ and that is an appropriate nickname. He is strong, he is sharp and very intelligent. A year ago in this game was the first time he played center in a game and he has been the starting center ever since. We will miss him after this game.

What are a few things that have impressed you about the offensive lineman this year?

PL: Fundamentally we have gotten better. CJ Frye, Kevin Rivers, Shane Hall and Cedric Williams and Larrell Johnson and John Strickland have fundamentally improved. I am pleased with that. They will compete as long as we stay healthy we will be a competitive group up front. I would give them a B plus this year – not an A yet because we have some things to work on. They have done a nice job and there is always room for improvement.

What kind of person do you have to be to be an offensive lineman?

PL: It’s totally a grunt position. There is no glory there. You never touch the ball unless you are a center and then are giving it to someone else. Everybody has there specific assignment and you have to work together closely. There is a lot more to it that goes on strategically and communication wise than people realize. You have to be a good dancer and have a lot of talent – dancing is helpful. But what you have to be is big and strong and hostile. If we have that kind of aggressive attitude and we play well, we are gonna be pretty good.

What type of mentality are you looking for when you recruit an offensive lineman?

PL: We are looking for a big guy – someone 300 pounds that can carry his weight well. Physically and mentally tough. He has to be reasonably smart.

What are a couple of special memories from this year?

PL: The Clemson game and the Alabama game. Really everyday at practice these guys surprise me with some new wrinkle of humor. They are great people to be around. I will miss the seniors – Larrell, Kevin Rivers and Melvin Paige and Rodney Trafford. Everyday is a new memory.

If someone came into your position room for the first time, what are a few things they would tell their friends about you and your group?

PL: I think it’s serious. The fun time is after practice. In the meeting room they are very focused and get after it. They would think we were pretty serious and intense.

What are your plans for the offensive lineman in the off season?

PL: First, we will work the stew out of them! Get them stronger and hire some new ones in recruiting. We are gonna work them like dogs and hope they get stronger, faster and better.

Later, we sat down with ‘Tank’ Johnson, one of USC’s captains.

First, where did the nickname Tank come from?

LJ: In high school my basketball coach always made fun of my head. He called me Tank Head and I just shortened it to Tank. It rolled over to football. I use to run people over all the time and they thought it meant the tank. The real reason they called me Tank was because of my big head but I have kind of grown into it now.

Coach Lounsberry said the offensive lineman are pretty serious in their meeting room. Any comment to that?

LJ: Oh yeah, Coach Lounsberry gets down to business. We do have a bit of fun but we always get down to business. He wants to point out the mistakes we made so we can improve.

Who is the jokester in your group? What’s something funny they have done?

LJ: CJ and I are probably the funny ones (laughing hard). We make fun of Kevin Rivers. He is always telling us how fast he is even though he might be the slowest person I have ever seen. Coach will tell him he needs to make a certain block but he is too slow to get there but he said the whistle blew when it never blew. We like clowning with him. There are other things I can’t talk about.

Who is the funniest guy on the team?

LJ: Jamacia Jackson is the funniest guy on the team. I am one of the funny ones on the offense, but he’s the funniest. Erik Kimrey does the best Coach Holtz imitation. Erik is pretty good.

If you had to take out 5 teammates in Tampa, your hometown, who would you take and what would you do all day? Where would you go?

LJ: I would take Cedric Williams, Shane Hall, Phil Petty, Travelle Wharton and Melvin Paige. I would also take Ryan Brewer too. I would take them to my house and then we would go to Clearwater Beach all day. It’s gotta be a nice hot day with a lot of people on the beach (looking at girls?): Yeah, of course – we would want to see the ladies. Then we would come back to Tampa for the nightlife and go to Ybor City.

Have you shown anyone around Tampa yet?

LJ: I took John Stamper to my house one of the first days we were down here. I have been pretty laid back. John Stamper was the first person I met here and he treated me a like a little brother. He’s a great person.

What’s a few things you will remember from being 0-11?

LJ: Even though we lost a lot of games, I will take away the good memories. I will remember how we stuck around each other and nobody left. I will have the memories of meeting new people. I will take the jokes and fun we had.

Anything specifically you remember that amused you and your teammates?

LJ: Oh yeah! My freshman year we were running gassers and we were getting timed. I had like five seconds and I tried to dive from the 10 yard line to the goalline. Watts (Sanderson) is always bringing that up for old times. It wasn’t funny then but it’s funny now when I think about it.

What about memories from this year?

LJ: One special thing is how we came back against Alabama. And of course how we turned it around from 1-21 to two winning seasons in a row and hopefully two bowl wins in a row.

What kind of mindset does the offensive lineman have to have?

LJ: We have to have a tough demeanor. We also have to have a calm sense. We can’t be too aggressive or we will miss our assignments. We have to go in there with a cool head. You just can’t get all riled up.

What is your proudest moment as a Gamecock?

LJ: Being a part of a team that turned everything around. From being one of the cellar teams in the SEC to being one of the top teams in the SEC. That’s what I am most proud of.