Oct. 4, 2011
– Coach Johnson’s Opening Statement
Like I say, every week when we have a chance to play at home, we’re excited to be back home. [We] have a chance to play in front of our fans and students. Hopefully we can get the students out there loud this week. We need them. Big game, conference game at home. Maryland comes in undefeated in the league as well and hopefully we can play a little better than we did a week ago. We were happy that we won on the road, but felt like we could have executed and played a little better than we did last week at NC State. It’ll be a big challenge this week at practice. We need to have a better week of practice than we did a week ago and see if we can get ready to play better on Saturday. We’ll need to.
On practice prior to the NC State Game
(The players) will tell you that there was more than one occasion that they got flame sprayed in practice last week. I’m a firm believer that you play like you practice most of the time and we were just kind of not sharp., and that’s the way we played in the game, not sharp.
They’ve got a lot of guys back that won nine games a year ago. Their quarterback [Danny O’Brien] was the rookie of the year in the ACC a year ago and he’s a very talented guy. They’ve got good running backs. They’ve played West Virginia, who is a very good team, and Temple, who is very underrated. It’s really hard to get a beat on where they are. I know this, I know they’re 1-0 in the ACC and I know they beat Miami, which we struggled to do, so I expect that they’ll be a high-caliber opponent when they come in here.
On Tevin Washington’s performance against NC State
It wasn’t one of his better games. I think he would be the first to say that, probably, he’s played better than that all year. It was just an enigma. He did enough to help us win the game when we had to, which is a positive, but he can play better and hopefully he will this week.
On the team
I don’t know that I’d say more fun than past teams. I said this is a fun bunch to be around. I think that they genuinely like each other. Last week was the first time that I’ve really had to challenge them in practice to get on them. I think for the most part they’ve tried to get better. They want to be good, and that’s fun to coach. If somebody’s willing to work hard and do things then you want to work hard with them and try to make them as good as they can be. And that’s what I was talking about. I think they genuinely, like I’ve said before, like one another and like playing for one another.
On turnovers being a concern for Saturday
You always worry about it, but when you coach it every week you don’t approach this week any differently than any other. You’ve just got to try to do fundamentals and make sure you’re taking care of the ball and it’s a big deal in practice. It usually is for us. Those guys understand it’s a big deal. They’re always a key in the game; you worry about that. You turn it over once or twice and it can change the outcome of the game.
On past Georgia Tech defensive players
When we first got here, if you look at the guys on defense, there’s a bunch of those guys playing in the NFL. There’s some pretty good players. You’ve got Michael Johnson, Derrick Morgan, Vance Walker, Darryl Richard, there’s four defensive lineman that are playing in the NFL. Morgan Burnett, Jahi Word-Daniels played a little bit. There’s several guys who were on those defenses that are pretty good players. I think what you’ve got to do is get better at doing you’re trade and your scheme and those kind of things. I’m not going to complain about the players we had defensively when we first got here, we had some good players.
On Maryland’s defense
I’ve looked at most of the Maryland tape. We played them when I was at Navy. [We’ve] gone back and looked at some Southern Miss tape against some teams that might be appropriate. The defensive coordinator came from Southern Miss. It looks to me like they’re doing this stuff. There’s only so many ways you can line up. We’ll figure it out once they come in here.
On the players being in a comfort zone
Ask the players about that. I don’t think they’re too comfortable with me after last week. They know what the expectations are and I’ve told them I’m not lowering my expectations to them; they’re going to raise theirs to mine… I think that they work hard and they try. It’s hard to play at the maximum. I talked to our team last week before the game and tried to explain the difference between good teams and great teams. Great teams don’t care who you play. They go out to play against themselves. They want to get better and they want to execute at the highest level when they play no matter who you play. Good teams are satisfied but sometimes just kind of get by. And if you do that long enough it’s going to catch up with you. It’s just like with fundamentals, I challenge our guys. You don’t put your eyes where they’re supposed to be, you may get away with it for awhile, but it’s going to catch up with you sooner or later. You don’t take care of the ball, you might get away with it a little bit but sooner or later it’s going to catch up with you. All those things you just have to keep trying to stress and they’ve got to keep trying to do. My job as a coach is to try to get this team to play the best they can play. It’s not to pat them on the back and rah-rah them when they do something good. Now, having said that, there’s a line of how far do you push but that’s why you get paid. You’re supposed to know how far to push.
On the play of the offensive tackles
It has been hit and miss. I think they’ve done some things well and they probably didn’t play as well last week as they did the week before to be honest. All those guys play about the same reps. Phil [Smith], Ray [Beno] and Tyler [Kidney] each game and that will probably continue and we’ll see how practice goes we might have a different guys starting this week. Competition is good. If we had it at every position we’ be better.