Zac Johnson Answers Your Questions

Tag: Zac Johnson

28Aug 2012
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Zac Johnson Answers Your Questions

Johnson celebrates with his teammate after a
2008 special teams touchdown.

Although he entered the program as a walk-on, former safety Zac Johnson eventually earned a scholarship by providing depth at his position, pushing players on the practice field, and becoming a “special teams demon.”  Zac finished his Michigan career with 39 game appearances, 17 special teams tackles and two Academic All-Big Ten nominations.  Perhaps his most prestigious accomplishment and recognition, however, was garnering a #43 ranking in the 2009 edition of this very blog’s notorious and annual Countdown series.  Zac recently took a few moments out of his day to talk about his time at Michigan and answer several reader questions.

Special teams success:  “The main things in order to be successful on special teams is that you need to be an aggressive player, channel your aggression, and have the will to win at the end of every play.

Most unheralded teammate:  “Someone who comes to mind is Mark Moundros.  He’s played offense, he’s played defense, he’s been a great speaker – he was a role model on our team.  He was a guy that I really looked up to and really admired, and I think everyone on the team did.”

Differences between the coaching staffs:  “All three coaches are great guys, and they all taught me a lot.  Coach Carr really showed me what it takes to be a Michigan man, and he really instilled integrity and character in me.  Coach Rodriguez was an intelligent offensive coach, and that is where his emphasis was.  Coach Hoke was a defensive-minded coach from his background, as a D-line coach.  Most of it comes from their background.  I finished with Coach Hoke my senior year, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out.

Sugar Bowl victory:  “Oh, man, that was the best feeling.  To go through everything we went through, the struggles – but even in the struggles you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you too.  But to win the Sugar Bowl reminded me of the Schembechler quote, ‘Those who stay will be champions.'”

Three and Out:  “No, I didn’t get a chance to read that yet, actually. . . .Yeah, I have an interest in reading it.  It’s one of those things where it hasn’t been a top priority.  I definitely plan to read it, though.”

Putting football in the past:  “I’ve played football here for the past five years.  I did Pro Day for the NFL, and I didn’t get picked up by the NFL; I only got a shot at Arena or CFL.  I decided beforehand that if I didn’t get a shot at the NFL that I was going to be done playing football.  With the stress that’s been on my body, I’ve had numerous injuries – it just comes with the game.  But right now, I’m currently working at Merrill Lynch, doing some financial consulting. . . .One of the biggest things that Michigan football has taught me is how to perform under high pressure situations, how to meet deadlines, and how to do those things as part of a team.”

Expectations for Team 133:  “. . . .The thing about college football is any team can win on any given day.  That’s something that I learned as a freshman.  My first game at Michigan Stadium was a loss to Appalachian State. . . . But that’s what makes it such a great sport to watch.  Every week matters.  And nowadays, every team, no matter how big or small they are, have some talent on it.  It’s about the team that comes ready to play on that day.”

Zac’s message:  “This is something I’ve thought about before.  I always try to leave with some kind of message, just so I feel like there’s a purpose, so I came up with a quote here today – ‘Learn how to fuel your goals and your dreams; a great vision and a great work ethic will propel you beyond what you can see.’  That is my advice; you have to have purpose in all that you do.”

Choices for 2012 breakout players:  Blake Countess and Jerald Robinson  

7Aug 2012
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Ask a Question: Zac Johnson

I should be speaking with Team 132 backup safety and longtime special teams starter, Zac Johnson, in the next few days.  Leave a question/topic for him in the comments section if you’d like, and I’ll try to get to it in the interview.

13Sep 2010
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Michigan vs. Notre Dame Awards

“Prison Abs” Gordon

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Michael Cox. I know I sound like a broken record, and it doesn’t bode well for me (or him) that Cox hasn’t seen the field in the first two games. However, Michigan’s runnings backs just aren’t getting it done. So far Michigan’s three running backs (Vincent Smith, Michael Shaw, Stephen Hopkins) have combined for 42 carries, 129 yards, and 2 touchdowns (a 3.07 yard average). I really don’t care who totes the rock for Michigan, as long as he runs the ball at a better clip than 3.07 yards per try.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Denard Robinson. Hold on just a second before you go ballistic, though. I don’t want him to be relegated to the bench (unless the game is out of hand). I’d just like to see him carrying the ball less. He’s averaging 8.0 yards per carry, but he’s averaging 28.5 attempts per game. That would be 370.5 carries in a 13-game season, and that’s way too much. Hopefully Robinson can get a bit of rest in the next two weeks against UMass and Bowling Green. Robinson might be the best player in the country right now, and he needs to stay healthy.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . Thomas Gordon. True freshman Carvin Johnson won the starting Spur job in fall camp, but Gordon played pretty well against Notre Dame in his first career start, as Johnson missed the game due to a knee injury. Gordon was the fouth-leading tackler against the Fighting Irish, tallying 5 stops, 2 tackles for loss, and Michigan’s lone quarterback sack. I think he’s stronger at the point of attack than Johnson, and while the freshman is probably more athletic, my bigger concern at the position is the ability to stand up to blocks and tackle. Gordon seems to do those things better than Johnson, from what I’ve seen.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Craig Roh at defensive end. I think this was a game plan adjustment for Michigan’s coaches, and the results were questionable. In order to counter Notre Dame’s passing game, Michigan put elite pass rusher Roh on the field instead of the solid but unspectacular Greg Banks. However, Roh was overpowered repeatedly, and despite getting a decent rush at times, he was unable to take down the quarterback. If Michigan goes with a 4-front, then I’ll be happy to see Roh lined up at defensive end. But in a 3-3-5 defense, he lacked the strength to stand up to the two blockers that usually stood in his way.

MVP of the Notre Dame game . . . Denard Robinson, obviously. He had 258 rushing yards, 244 rushing yards, and 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 passing). He also led the game-winning drive, on which he was 5/6 passing and ran for 17 yards, including scoring the final TD.

Unsung Hero of the Notre Dame game . . . Zac Johnson. Rasheed Furrha and Johnson share the #36 jersey according to the official roster, and the official site lists Furrha as the player who participated in Saturday’s game. However, I distinctly remember seeing Z. JOHNSON on the back of #36’s jersey, so I’m assuming that was a typo on the website. Regardless, Johnson had 2 special teams tackles and continued the solid special teams coverage he’s shown for the past couple years. He also made a smart play on the punt return unit, grabbing a ball on the bounce that appeared to have hit a Michigan player (although I don’t think it did). Johnson saw the ball bounce, plucked it out of the air, and fell to the ground, eliminating any chance for a Notre Dame player to recover.

19Aug 2009
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2009 Countdown: #43 Zac Johnson

Name: Zac Johnson
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 199 lbs.
High School: Morenci High School in Morenci, MI
Position: Safety
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey Number: #19
2008 statistics: 8 special teams tackles
Prediction for 2009: Special teams standout

Johnson might seem like an odd pick to be so high on this list, but for one thing, he’ll almost surely start (on special teams, at least), whereas a lot of guys lower than this will purely be backups. Johnson made eight special teams tackles last year, and even when he wasn’t necessarily making the tackle, he always seemed to be wreaking havoc on returners. His skills make me think he could be a decent safety, as well. He was a state finalist in the 100 meters and 4 x 400 in high school, so he’s got a bit of speed. I think he’ll continue to be a terror on special teams, and even though I don’t think he’ll get much of a chance to play on defense, I think he’s a valuable asset for the program.