Paul Johnson Conference Quotes

Oct. 18, 2011

ATLANTA

Opening Statement
“I’m disappointed in our performance last week. I think that any time you lose a game in this profession it sticks with you longer than when you win. The challenge this week, in addition to a great Miami team that is very athletic, is to put it behind you. You have to flush it and move on. Hopefully, you learn from some of the things that we didn’t do as well, and try to get the team geared up for a very important conference game in Miami. I think that there’s no question that right now they’re probably playing as well as anybody in the league. They always have great athletes, run well, so it will be a big challenge for our guys.”

On playing seven straight weeks
“Well, that’s one of the issues we discussed this morning in our staff meeting. We’ve actually played for 11 (consecutive) weeks if you count camp. I think people talk about our schedule as a positive when we started out because we had a chance to gradually go in it. But this is probably about the longest that I’ve ever played without a break. That’s going to be one of our challenges this week as coaches, to try to get our guys fresh enough to play. You want to practice and get better, but at the same time if you don’t have your legs and your mind feeling right, then it doesn’t do you any good. I think that might explain a little bit where we’ve been the last couple of weeks. As I look back and I search on it, I think our guys want to win and want to play, I don’t doubt that. They just need a little more in that tank. This week we will try to cut back some more and do some less physical stuff. Hopefully, we can get to the gate a little fresher and play fast like we did early on in the year. It’s very important, especially when you have a young team and they need the practice. But at the same time there’s got to be some balance there, and it’s our job to find that balance.”

On the defense’s play this season compared to 2010
“Well, I think for the most part they’ve done a pretty good job. I think the numbers are probably skewed because we’re not as good against the run and people aren’t throwing as much. Historically, when teams play us with our style, they’re going to try to run the ball. The possessions are limited and they’re going to try to keep they’re guys off the field for as long as possible. Last week they got out in front, we were having a hard time playing the run, and so they just kept running the ball. I think going into the game they had been averaging 37 passes per game, and I think they threw it about 17 or 18 times. But I think we’ve had some guys back there who have made some good plays. We’ve gotten people in some definite passing situations, and we’ve gotten pretty good pressure, too, but clearly those guys have done a little better job than they did a year ago.”

On avoiding giving up big plays on defense
“I think we are in the passing game. In the running game we’ve had some long runs against us. They had a huge play in the pass game early last week. They hit a huge pass off of a wheel route in the first quarter for a big gain. But for the most part I think we’ve done a good job that way.”

On the team’s response following the loss to UVA
“We came back Monday, and we watched the tape, cleaned it up, and conditioned. We’ll find out a lot more today. Monday is just more of error correction. I feel like our guys are going to have a positive attitude. We’re disappointed that we lost, but the sky isn’t falling. The team is 6-1. Before you bury us let us play two more games. It seems like everyone wants to end the season and bury the team. Maybe they’re right, but let’s at least go play and see what happens.”

On Justin Moore continuing as place kicker
“I don’t know. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We’ve got to get the ball up. We’ve had some penetration on that team, but when they block it with their facemask then you aren’t kicking it high enough. He’s very capable but there’s a point where you have to believe what you see. I think at times in practice he kicks it low. He’s working on it. He understands that that is something that we need to get better at.”

On the biggest problem on special teams this season
“If I look at our special teams I think you have to break it down. The punt return team, I think, is leading the league, but we just need to get more opportunities. The kickoff team has not been that bad. I mean, the guys are covering. But if you kick the ball to the 20-yard line, then they’re going to return it to the 40. That’s just the nature of it. When we’ve had pretty good kicks, I think for the most part we’ve had pretty good coverage. The kickoff return team has been abysmal. That’s an area of concern, we tried to address it in the offseason, we looked at a couple of NFL teams, we’ve got some schemes, we’ve got some stuff. We just have to do a better job of coaching it. That hasn’t been good. And with the extra point and field goals it pretty much comes down to how you kick them. It could be better. At times it has been ok, at times it hasn’t. I know that we spend time on it, we just have to do a better job of coaching it. The punt coverage I think has been ok when we’ve punted the ball, but we’ve just been really inconsistent. We’ve tried a couple of different guys, but there just has to be some consistency back there.”

On the loss of Jeremiah Attouchu and the effect on defending the run
“I think anytime you lose people it’s a concern, but I don’t know that that’s the big problem. We’ve got to find something that our guys can do better. They’ve got to play better and we’ve got to put them in better positions. That’s how it goes, whether it’s offense or defense. As a coach we have to put them in position to be successful. Daniel [Drummond] was available to play last week. He was at the game. Jeremiah is going to try to practice today, and we will see. We will evaluate him as the week goes on. I guess right now I’d say he’s 75-80% today. And we still have some time before Saturday.”

On differences in Miami after the coaching change
“Well, they’re still a lot more similar than what you might think. They still run a 4-3 defense. I don’t see a lot of changes there. They’re going to line up the same way that they have for the past two years against us. That’s the way Temple lined up. Everybody lines up virtually almost identically. There’s not been many different looks. A couple teams have had eight-man fronts, but mostly it’s been seven-man fronts. They pretty much all play the same way. Offensively, they’re a little bit different. Their offensive coordinator came from Seattle. I expect you’ll see a lot of the same stuff as UVa. They like to throw play action. They’ll probably throw deeper, I think they have more speed at receiver than UVa has.”

On Miami’s offense
“Their tailback has been pretty good I think up until a week ago. He might’ve been the most impressive guy in our league. He’s very talented. They’ve got a big offensive line. We need to be able to limit that. I’ve said since I’ve been here, if you can run the ball and stop the run then I think you have a pretty good chance to win. If you don’t stop the run, it makes it really hard.”

On the 3-4 run defense
“I think too much is made over this scheme vs. that scheme. The bottom line is that you have to beat blocks, you have to identify formations, and you have to have to beat them in certain areas to give your guys a chance. We have to do all of the above. We have to get our guys in better spots. Our guys have to do a better job of beating blocks. They have to do a better job of tackling. I find it hard to believe that a team would be a great 4-3 team but not a great 3-4 team, or vice versa. I think they’d probably be the same within reason no matter how you were lined up. That’s just my opinion.”

On the decline in passing efficiency
“It really kind of started in the Maryland game where we missed some opportunities in the first half. It was kind of a myriad of things. We had some drops that we would have caught earlier in the year. We had some overthrows. The protection was better early on. To be truthful, we didn’t throw the ball very much in the last game. The stats are skewed. The one interception (at the end of the half) was a throwaway. That’s a Big Ben play. There were six seconds in the half, we just threw it down there to see if he could catch it or get interference or whatever. On the other interception, we didn’t run a very good route and it was a poor throw. We just didn’t throw it. When you look out there you want to give your team the best chance to win. The way they lined up, I felt like if we ran the option three times, we would get a first down. And I think that we would have without penalties or different things. You’re not getting very many possessions, so the last thing that you want to do is go out there and get off schedule a little bit when you throw an incompletion. We probably need to throw it a little more in this game and get some confidence back. We need to hit some big plays in the passing game. The thing I’ve noticed that past two weeks is that we haven’t hit any big plays in the passing game. Earlier in the year we were able to hit the play action and do some things. “

On recruiting in Florida
“We have three coaches that recruit there. We recruit pretty much anywhere in the southeastern part of the country. We have coaches all up and down the coast. We want to do our job here at home, but we have three coaches in Florida, coaches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey. We have guys that recruit all of those areas. We try to recruit a lot down there.”

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