My preseason offensive MVP selection proved his worth in the Gators win over the Utes. Montrell Johnson carried the ball 12 times for 75 yards and a touchdown, adding a catch for 14 yards in his Gators debut.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of Johnson’s performance was that he fumbled on his first carry in a Gator uniform, but was able to bounce back for an impressive game.
“I thought it was a great play. I was in a bad position,” Johnson said. “I was trying to brace myself for the fall. I only had one hand on the ball, and he just stripped it loose. It was a great play by the defender.”
Napier ended up giving Johnson 12 more touches, including carries later in the first quarter, displaying a lot of trust in the sophomore back.
“It meant a lot to me because it just shows he has a lot of trust in me, a lot of trust in my game,” Johnson said. “I’m glad he did because I think I would have had a bad game of — you know, if I got the ball later in the game. So I’m glad he came back to me.”
Johnson said the fumble wasn’t easy on him mentally.
“It bothered me that much. I was really uncomfortable with it,” Johnson said.
“Mentally, I flushed it by my teammates, like when I got back to the sideline, my teammates, they came over. They encouraged me. They picked my head up when I was down. I really appreciate that out of them,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he feels like he rose to the occasion, but he couldn’t have done it without his offensive line.
“I give all my greatness to them. They did great all night,” Johnson said.” They were getting a lot of push off the ball, and you could see throughout the game, the defense was getting tired. We were just wearing them down by our fast-paced offense, and that really helped us a lot.”
Johnson believes that Anthony Richardson is a major factor in the run game.
“It affects the run game a lot because it takes a lot of pressure off me,” Johnson said. “When we fake the ball going this way, Anthony going the other way, the defense doesn’t know who has the ball. So it affects the run game a lot.”
“If any team has a guy like Anthony on their team, they’re in a position to win. It doesn’t matter what’s the outcome,” Johnson said.
Although Johnson won’t be bringing a football to class or sleeping with one, he does plan to work on protecting the football this week.
“I’ll probably work on like, we call a stumble bum drill,” Johnson said. “You stumble and put one hand on the ground and pick the ball up tighter. So I’ll probably work on that more this week.”
Johnson and his teammates celebrated their win over #7 Utah, but they have all eyes on Kentucky now.
“Billy’s message was just, you know, that’s behind us now,” Johnson said. “Go on to the next step. As always, get better every day. Just leave stuff like that behind.”
Johnson said the energy in practice on Monday was great.
“Everybody was excited, ready to get back to work and get after Kentucky,” Johnson said.
Johnson strikes me as a player that expects the best from himself and isn’t satisfied with anything less. He strikes me as a player that is always thinking about how he can improve his game.
A reporter asked Johnson what he’ll remember from this game 10, 20, 30 years from now.
His answer? “Probably that fumble.”