Paul Johnson Conference Quotes

Aug 27, 2013

Opening Statement:
 “It’s always exciting to get into the game week of the first game of a new season, and certainly we’re fired up about having the chance to finally play a team with a different color uniform and find out a little bit more about our team. I think we’ve had a really good camp. We tried to walk that fine line between being as physical as you need to be in camp and trying to keep everyone healthy. I think for the most part we’ve been able to accomplish that. Since camp started, we’ve had two injuries where we’ll lose guys that won’t play in the first game that came into camp healthy in Errin Joe and Tremayne McNair. Although, Tremayne had a little bit of his meniscus before camp started. Hopefully, he’ll be back for Duke, but we don’t have a time frame on Errin yet. Other than that, we’re hopeful that everyone will be available for this game on Saturday that we had counted on. We knew that Morgan Bailey wasn’t going to play and we’re pointing toward Duke for him. Isaiah Johnson still continues to improve and we will see where that takes us with Isaiah as we move from week to week.”

On Elon this weekend…
“They’re out of the Southern Conference which is one of the best FCS conferences in the country. Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Furman and a lot of other teams in that league are very good. Georgia Tech has a history with Furman having played them in the past. Georgia Southern is coming up on the schedule and both Georgia Southern and Appalachian State are moving up. They’ve played good competition and it ought to be a good challenge to see where we are as a football team. I think it as much about Georgia Tech as it is about Elon in the opening game and trying to see exactly where we are.”

On balancing two quarterbacks…
“Offensively, we run two groups all the time and they get an equal amount of reps. For the most part, Vad Lee has been with the 1’s and Justin has been with the 2’s until we scrimmage or we give Tim Byerly some time with the 2’s as well. They’ve had a ton of reps. Justin’s ready to play and so is Vad. Justin is actually banged up a little bit, but I think he’s going to be okay for the game.”

On Elon’s defense…
“They play hard and if you do that you always have a chance. Their middle linebacker is a really good player and I think he could play on this level. They list him at 6’2”, 240 pounds and we were talking about how he couldn’t have been 6’2”, 240 coming out of Page [High School in Greensboro, N.C.]. But he’s a really good player and their strong safety No. 41 has been really productive. They’ve got two 300 pound tackles inside, so it’ll be a challenge. It’s not like you’re lining up against somebody who doesn’t have any players. A part of that challenge is the new defensive coordinator so we’re not totally sure about how he’s going to scheme or play. So we go in guessing a little bit, which I am sure they are doing the same thing on their end.

On Tech’s defense facing a different offense…
“They’ve been playing against the scout team for two weeks and we haven’t played against ourselves other than situations. That’s a big misnomer. If we play third and eight with four wide receivers, we’re throwing the ball just like everybody else with four wide receivers. I’m anxious to see all of them play. Not just defense; offense, special teams, the whole nine yards. You want to see everybody get out there and see how they’re all going to play.”

On Michael Summers and other wide receivers…
“Michael’s had a good camp. He had the benefit of being one of the few healthy receivers this spring so he got a lot of work. He’s still a redshirt freshman, but he’s got good speed and he’s not afraid to be physical. He does need to be a little more physical at times. I think he’s got a bright future and he’s had a good camp. He’ll probably start on one side and probably Corey Dennis will start on the other side. DeAndre Smelter has been out with a nagging injury and we don’t know if we’ll get him back – probably not today, but tomorrow he’ll be back. If he doesn’t practice today than Corey will start for sure, but DeAndre will play a lot. Those three guys will be in the rotation. We talked a little bit this morning about Ricky Jeune and about playing him. But at the same time when we get everybody back the next week, he would probably be down as the number six receiver and I’m not sure we want to do that. I feel okay about where we are at receiver. We’ve got to play the games, but when we get everybody out there I feel that we can be as good as we’ve been at that position or better.”

On the depth at wide receiver…
“I don’t know if there’s a Demaryius Thomas out there, but how many times do you have the first receiver taken in a draft. That could be a once in a lifetime deal. We were fortunate here at Georgia Tech, although he wasn’t here when I was here, but we went from Calvin Johnson to Bay-Bay Thomas who are two of the top five receivers in the league right now. Then we had Stephen Hill who’s a talented kid and could run and jump. We’re hopeful that Darren Waller could fit that mold and DeAndre Smelter has a ton of ability. The more he plays football the better he’s going to be. We talked about Michael as a redshirt freshman. Travin Henry is another redshirt freshman. We’ve got Anthony Autry who’s sitting out and was very talented as a freshman a year ago. And Antonio Messick and Ricky Jeune are going to be good players. So we’ve got some depth at that position.”

On Tech’s defensive progress…
“They’ve had their good days and bad days just like the offense. But we may not know exactly where we are until we play five games. Last year we thought we really good coming out of the first game and we saw how that worked out. So I don’t think you make any conclusions until you play a little bit. We’d be hard pressed not to be better. I have no reason to doubt that we are better from what I’ve seen in practice. But you still have to do it on the field. And you’re two or three injuries away from changing everything. The right two or three people get hurt, the whole thing changes. The big thing is just trying to stay healthy and keeping them out there.”

On Vad Lee’s first career start…
“You’re constantly talking to guys in high profile positions and you’re not going to get any higher profile than the quarterback. The most popular guy on the football team is always the backup quarterback. Until they see him play and then it’s the next guy. But Vad has been in that position where he has been the golden child and he’s been the guy that everyone wants and can’t wait to see him play. What I’ve tried to guard against for him is to not build up such a perception that there’s no way he can get to it. That’s not fair to him. That’s not fair to anybody else. As much as I hate to admit it, he’s probably not going to complete every pass, he’s not going to get every read right and there are going to be some things that go wrong. And it’s how he handles them.

“It wouldn’t be above and beyond the fans for him to miss two or three passes and to get booed once in a while. Well how do you handle that? You’ve got to be ready for it and got to be dialed in. With our last quarterback, it didn’t bother him. Nothing really bothered him. He was zoned in and he didn’t care that nobody wanted him to play. He just went in and played. That’s what you’ve got to do in order to block all of that distraction out. You can’t worry about what happens with the next guy.

“And then you’ve got to be a leader because if you’re the quarterback and you throw a couple incompletions and you start stepping on your lip and pouting, then everybody in the huddle starts doing that. You’ve got to be the guy that’s upbeat and leading and doing those things. And that’s a learning progression. Now the good thing about Vad Lee is that Vad has all of those characteristics naturally. He’s got some charisma and he carries himself very well. He carries himself as a leader and very confident guy. He’s got to be Vad, but he’s also got to realize that at the end of the first quarter on Saturday everybody’s not going to love you the same way they did before. If they do, that’s great. But don’t let it bother you. Set the standard for yourself and try to achieve that. Don’t try to live up to everybody else’s hype. You’ve got ten other guys out there playing with you, you don’t have to do it all.”

On Broderick Snoddy’s progression…
“Broderick has worked really, really hard. He’s gotten stronger and has had a good camp because of that. He’s taking care of the ball. He’s got a lot of speed and a lot of quickness. So we’ve got to try and find a way to use him some and get him out there. He’s still has some liability. He’s got to be a better blocker and sometimes he loses focus. And he’s also got two guys in front of him who are also good players. So it’s not like there’s nobody there. David Sims has probably had as good a camp as anybody I’ve seen in a long time. I am really looking forward to watching him play. And he’s healthy for the first time in a long time. Zach Laskey is our leading rusher from a year ago and Zach has played really well. So there are some guys from a year ago, so it’s a little hard to just put Broderick in until he beats them out. But there are some things that Broderick brings to the table. We’re going to have him back on kickoff return. He’s also going to play a little bit of A-Back and B-Back. So we’re going to try and find ways to utilize what he does well.”

On Deon Hill’s consistency…
“I think Deon has been more consistent than anybody else at everything. When you take in to account blocking, receiving, running with the ball, assignments, adjustments and all of that stuff, I think he’s separated himself a little bit. There’s going to be a ton of those guys. You’ve got Robbie Godhigh, Deon, B.J. Bostic, Synjyn Days, Tony Zenon, and Dennis Andrews. There are six of those guys who can play and probably all will play. And they each bring something a little different. Synjyn’s a little bigger and a little more physical. Truthfully, Dennis may be the best guy with the ball in his hands. Robbie’s probably the best overall at blocking, running, receiving and the whole nine yards. B.J. seems to have a lot of big plays, especially in the passing game. They all bring something to the table and they’ll all play. But if some of them start to distinguish themselves, then they’ll end up playing way more than the others.”

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