Meet the Press: @GTPaulJohnson Talks #CLEMvsGT

Nov. 11, 2014

Coach Johnson’s Press Conference Audio 

Opening Statement
“Well I am proud of the way the guys played last Saturday on the road. Anytime you go on the road in the league and win a game it’s a big deal. We certainly got contributions out of all three phases of the team. With that behind us, we’ve got a tremendous challenge with a team that is just loaded with four and five star players from whatever. They’ve got the number one total defense in the country, number one in third down defense. Offensively they get their freshman phenom quarterback back. I’m sure they’re excited about that. It’ll be a huge challenge for us. We are looking forward to the game. By a quirk of the schedule we had to go there for two years in a row, but we are excited to have chance to play them here in Atlanta. Hopefully we can be competitive.”

Clemson’s Vic Beasley
“The key against them is to try and stay out of third-and-long. [That’s] the key against anybody really. They’ve got some great pass rushers; he’s certainly one of them. They’ve got probably six or seven guys up there that are really talented players on the defensive front. It’s a veteran team. I think I counted on their two-deep that they had eight of eleven that are either seniors or grad students. You couple that with being pretty good players, that’s a pretty good recipe to be pretty good. And they are. They’ve played really good. I mean if you take away the first game, the second half- well really just the fourth quarter where they gave up a couple of really big runs against Georgia -other than that they’ve played really stout all year against everybody. ”

Justin Thomas passing on third-and-long
“We’ve been pretty good on third down. That’s the one thing that I try to set a pretty high standard over there on offense and try to hold the guys to it. I mean we are just a whisker under 60 percent on third down. That’s probably close to records if we could finish the year that way. Fifty percent will get you in the top 10, 60 percent probably leads the country by two or three percentage points I would think.”

Zach Laskey’s return
“Well I think it’s good anytime you get a player back of Zach’s quality back. Competition is great. I thought Synjyn [Days] played very well while he was the starter. My take is that Synjyn has at least earned the starting role with his performance over the last three weeks. We’re going to play them both. Then we will come off the field and see who has the hot hand. Each of them bring their own unique advantages over the other guy to the game and we will play them by what we need. Zach was playing well when he got hurt. They’re both going to play; it’s good to have two guys in there that you can play. Matt Connors played well too.”

Georgia Tech’s response to midseason adversity
“You’d always like to have the games back you lost. We played particularly poorly offensively against Duke. You’ve got to give them some credit, but that’s probably the worst game we’ve played. We couldn’t get it done at Carolina. But after that we moved on and we handled what we could handle. That’s all you can do. As I told the team this week, we’ve got a huge challenge, but it’s our last game. If we find a way to win the game we’d finish 6-2 and the team in front of us has three games left. I think they’ve got three games left and Miami’s not out of this thing by a long stretch. They’ve got a couple games in the league. If they win they’ll probably have the tiebreakers on a three way tie. It’s long from being over. But you’ve got to keep applying the pressure. If you lose, your chances become very slim.”

The character of the senior class
“I think they are a lot like the whole team. They’re a bunch of fighters. They’re pretty resilient and they just keep playing. They fight through all of the bad things, people’s expectations or whatever and they just keep playing. They don’t let anything bother them. They’re a pretty resilient group.”

On this season
“It’s gotten to where I’m not sure it’s ever fun. The season is a grind. I think you have to get through the season and then you look back and reflect on it. But when you’re in it, it’s a grind. This is a great group of kids. They have been easy to coach because they have worked really hard and they don’t question anything. If you ask them to do something, they try to do it the best they can. They try hard and that’s all you can ask. The chemistry on the team has been really good. I think they get along and like each other. I think the coach-player relationships are the best it’s probably been since I’ve been here. All of that stuff is a positive.”

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