February 28, 2009

Johnson wants to win a championship

After the end of the 2008 season, USC running back Stafon Johnson had to decide whether or not he'd be coming back for his final year as a Trojan.

He weighed the pros and cons decided to return.

"Of course I considered leaving. It's the opportunity of a lifetime," Johnson said. "At the same time, who doesn't want to come back here for another year and play with your teammates?"

Well, the Trojans' 2008 quarterback Mark Sanchez.

"He's in a different boat than I am. I wanted to come back," Johnson said. "My whole goal is to win a national championship because there were a whole lot of national champions going around here. I felt as if we have a really good chance to do it if I came back."

Nearly the entire offense returns from last season, and Johnson said that will be a key factor in helping USC break in a new quarterback.

"Things are going pretty good. It's better when you're surrounded by people of age, so to speak. Knowing we've got a young quarterback coming in, it's so much better to surround him with so many experienced guys," Johnson said. "It helps him. He's the only person still trying to grasp the offense. Everyone else is already on the same page.

"It's so much easier when you only have to get one guy up to speed."

And Johnson said he's learned this one thing in his time at USC - the Trojans don't have time to struggle if they want to reach their goals.

"It's just one slip up. It shows that you no room for error at any given time. One bad play can ruin your whole season," he said. "One bad quarter can cost you everything. We have no chances to make a mistake."

In an effort to help USC get back to the BCS National Championship Game, Johnson is focused on improving on his big-play ability.

"I'm 100 percent as far as workouts are concerned. I'm just trying to stay healthy and get ready for the 24th," Johnson said. "I got back on the track working on my speed and my lateral quickness, just trying to get better. I'm not being satisfied with what I'm doing or with where I'm at."

Johnson was still nursing some minor injuries this past week when USC players ran timed 40-yard dashes.

"I didn't run. I just felt as if my body wasn't ready. I was still dealing with some little nicks from the season," Johnson said. "I just want to make sure I don't have any lingering injuries coming into spring ball. Once you have that worry in your mind, it's not good. I need to respect that, and the coaches respected it and said I was cool."

Johnson said he's got good relationships with all the coaches, and he's excited to build another one with new quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach for offense Jeremy Bates.

"He's a real good guy. He knows what he's talking about, and he knows what he wants to accomplish here. He knows what he wants to change and what he wants to keep. I'm anxious to see what we can do," Johnson said. "We have gone over some plays, but we haven't talked about schemes or anything. Still, when I heard we got someone from Denver I was happy because of all the great backs they've had."

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