Michigan football WR Cornelius Johnson reflects on Ohio State touchdown
It was a career-defining moment for Michigan football wide receiver Cornelius Johnson. Somewhat streaky as a wideout, the Wolverines called his number against rival Ohio State, facing a third-and-long, and in dangerous territory, down by 11 on the road.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy faced heavy pressure, dumped it off to Johnson in the flat, and Johnson took it from there, breaking several tackles en route to the end zone to put the maize and blue back within striking distance.
Michigan went on to win, 45-23, in Columbus, but that play was the one that started the momentum on the way to what ended up being a drubbing.
On Wednesday, Johnson spoke to Jon Jansen on the ‘In the Trenches’ podcast about that first touchdown catch and shared what was going through his mind in that moment.
“First of all, just like coming into that game in general, it’s just a mindset,” Johnson said. like I was thinking to all about all the matchups all comes down to this, you know, it’s exactly that point where it’s like it’s a requirement, you got to beat Ohio State to advance to the championship and advance to the playoffs — that’s just a requirement. And that was my mindset come into the game.
“Coming into that play. It was third-and-9, I think I was subbing in from the sideline — maybe I was already in the game, but I just remember being in the huddle. And I was just trying to embrace it, man. Everyone was screaming, yelling at us, millions of people it felt like. J.J. gave me my route, we looked at each other, I knew he was coming to me. And then we were able to connect on that sideline and then just turn up from there. And it was a great feeling coming to the sideline. I mean, we really needed that for our team. And that was a great game. We had to keep on battling the whole time.”
The next score in that game also came on the back of Johnson, as McCarthy hit him deep for a long touchdown, which gave Michigan its first lead of the game. It came on the next possession, and as play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson said of the Wolverines QB, ‘They said the kid couldn’t hit the deep ball!’
That was the narrative entering The Game, so the timeliness of that play was crucial. McCarthy went on to hit another deep shot to Colston Loveland to start the scoring deluge in the second half. But when it comes to this upcoming season, Johnson says there’s more of an emphasis on hitting those deep shots earlier and more often. Whatever happened last year remains in the rearview for these players, with the focus being on here and now as well as what’s in front of the team if it wants to reach its goal of a national championship.
“That’s a good point, because that’s something we want to connect on early and often,” Johnson said. “I mean, whether it’s the very first game of the season to the end of the season, we want to be able to be hitting on all our shots and having a good time on all routes. And it really just comes down to basically execution and trust knowing which guys are going to be where, and then having trust in those guys, knowing that those are the ones who are going to be able to get it done.
“And maybe it could have been a couple of different factors last year — that’s something that we’re not really focused on. Because it comes down to like, for me, personally, I’m just trying to control what I can control. Because I can’t be thinking about all these millions different things, when I know I just got to take care of my route and have that trust that if I get open the ball is gonna be there.”
Why Cornelius Johnson decided to come back to Michigan football
Ranking Big Ten football teams by 2023 potential
Ronnie Bell has an impressive one-handed catch at NFL combine