Paul Johnson Conference Quotes

Oct. 25, 2011

ATLANTA

Opening Statement
“I’m glad to be back home and have a chance to get back in our stadium. The last couple of weeks have been disappointing, to say the least. The game Saturday, while there were a few positives, I thought that we played better defensively against the run, especially in the early downs. Bottom line is we weren’t efficient enough to win. We had a very poor performance again in the special teams area and offensively we just didn’t score enough points. We have to be more efficient when we have the ball and try to put points on the board. Put that game behind us and I think Clemson is probably the most talented team we’ve played since I’ve been here at Georgia Tech at least in this stadium. They bring in a bunch of really good players and they’re playing well, so it’ll be a heck of a challenge this week to try to bounce back and get ready to go.”

On Tevin Washington’s struggles
“I think it’s some of both (mental and physical). Anytime that you’re struggling I think that it’s hard to separate the two and it’s not all Tevin. Certainly, he can play better, but the guys around him have to play better, too. I think that those guys get too much credit and too much blame sometimes. He’s like everybody else, he’s working hard and trying to correct what he needs to correct and now, that’s all you can do.”

On the explosiveness of Clemson
“They have the freshmen receiver [Sammy Watkins] who is really good. Ellington is one of the best backs in the league. The tight end is probably going to be the first tight end taken in the draft. Across from Watkins the other receiver is a great player. He was a high-profile guy a year ago. So, they’ve got a lot of weapons. Their quarterback is playing well. They can hit a lot of big plays and they have.”

On whether players are more excited because it is a night game
“We haven’t had that many night games actually here. We had the Saturday night Virginia Tech game, which was a great atmosphere, hopefully it’ll be good to be home. I think we’re going to have a full house and get the fans behind them. I think our guys look at this game as a challenge and a great opportunity. You’ve got an undefeated team coming in that’s in the top-5 in the BCS and you get to play them at home at night. If you can’t get up for this one you probably not ought to be playing.”

On whether the team is playing with a chip on its shoulder
“I don’t know. I think that everybody uses different things for motivation, whatever works for you. Some guys probably don’t know people are telling them they’re not going to win. Other guys do. I think for the most part they come out to play. The effort the last week was good. The week before it wasn’t as good. Last week the effort was O.K. We just got to do a better job of executing and have a better plan that they can do and try not to self-destruct in the special teams area.”

On the offensive tempo of the game
“We’ve just got to try to do what we can do. I think that what’s happened to us the last couple of weeks is we’ve kind of got done to us what we’ve done to other people where you limit the possessions of the game, and when you’re not efficient at them, it’s not much fun. You look at the Miami game, we go 20 plays and 90 yards and eat up the second quarter, and it’s 14-7. If we don’t give up the score right before halftime, we come back one score down and the game is kind of a different game. It becomes imperative that we score in the third quarter. We take the second half kick and we burn seven minutes and get no points. We had two possessions in the third quarter, and when you don’t score, now it’s 21-7, you’re not going to have any 20 play 90 yard drives to win the game. So it changes what you have to do. That’s what we’ve been able to do in the past to other people because if you’re efficient and you get up 21-7, it kind of makes them one-dimensional.”

On (OL) Morgan Bailey’s availability
“Morgan is going to practice at tackle. He practiced last week so this will be his second week. We’ll switch around with Nick McRae and [Ray] Beno. They’ll have to roll in there so they’ll both get reps at center this week.”

On Jay Finch
“He’s played well for the most part. Anytime you lose a starter, its tough. It’s like I’ve said before the next guy has got to step up. You can’t crush it, the guy’s got to play. I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. It’s not near as bad as they thought. It’s a sprain and we’ll see how it goes.”

On the special teams’ performance
“If you go back and look special teams-wise, the way we practice it everyday, you take the last game, and I hesitate to get into it because every time I try to explain what happens I’m throwing somebody under the bus, I don’t care who’s coaching special teams, if you punt the ball 13 yards it’s not good. If you can’t kick the ball to the endzone, it’s not good. The return game, as I’ve said all along, on the kickoff return, has not been up to speed and not been very good. We’ve tried two to three different returners, we’ve tried people in the back wedge, we’re running he exact same kickoff return the Atlanta Falcons run because Mike [Smith] and I are pretty good friends and we went up there and spent most of the day and got his stuff. We’ve got to do a better job coaching it I guess but it’s the same kickoff return that ran it back to the 10 yard line in the Maryland game.”

On the team’s outlook going forward
“That’s just like yesterday; our guys are excited about playing. Roddy Jones talked to the team yesterday and he goes ` hey guys, we’ve still got a chance to win 10 games or 11 games. There’s a lot to play for.’

If you win out, I think that that’s very possible. Now, have we dug ourselves a little bit of a whole the last few weeks? You’d be lying if you didn’t say you had, but you’ve got to flush it and move on. There’s a lot to play for and like I said we’re 6 and 2. I don’t think very many people said we’d be 6-2 at this point to begin with.”

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