Paul Johnson Press Conference

Sept. 28, 2010

ATLANTA – Opening Statement
“After watching the tape, I was more disappointed than I was after the game, if that is possible. I was really frustrated and this is probably the second or third time this year that we have played with little emotion in the mental aspect. The physical aspect wasn’t great, but it was ok. The mental aspect of it was just out there. We have guys that have played for two or three years that are doing things that there is no explanation for. Concentration, paying attention to detail, all of those things, we just have to do a better job of getting through the basic fundamentals. With some of the stuff that we busted in the (NC State) game is really unexplainable. They can’t explain it when you show it to them on tape either. Take nothing away from North Carolina State, they played hard and their quarterback had a great game, but we didn’t need to help them as much as we did on both sides of the ball. Now we move on, we see if we can come back with some enthusiasm. It’s like I told them, they (NC State) aren’t in our division. I think that is the first game that we have lost, since I have been here, to a team in the Atlantic division. It is a little bit different but you still control your own destiny and our goal for this week is try and find a way to beat Wake Forest; that is what you have to do.”

“Wake is coming off of a couple tough road trips to Stanford and Florida State. The Stanford game just got away from them early. I think they actually played pretty well against Florida State; it was 10-0 midway through the third quarter. They struggled on offense a little bit after they lost their starting quarterback. Offensively they played pretty well against Florida State for the most part. The score was not actually indicative of the way the game went. They always play well at home and I am sure that we are going to get their best shot.”

On Wake Forest’s rushing defense
“I think that a lot of it is big plays. Anytime [you give up 500 yards in the last two games] it is big plays. Quite honestly, in the last two games they played two pretty good teams. The rushing yards given up at Stanford was skewed a little bit because Stanford got way ahead and kept running the ball to keep the game moving. The same thing with Florida State because they made some big plays, but that game was 10-0 until late in the third quarter.”

On missed assignments
“Actually, we had 43 missed assignments on one end and 42 on the other. There were so many — from turning guys loose on pass protection to us going the wrong way, we were busted the first play of the game on offense. These are guys that have played for two or three years and it is not new stuff. This is just mental lapses and holes in concentration. It doesn’t matter what scheme you are in if you have a strong blitz on, three guys blitz and one doesn’t and they run the ball right into the gap in the blitz. That is beating you. That is not giving yourself a chance. When you have a guy man-to-man and you come out of coverage and turn your guy loose because the quarterback is scrambling; it doesn’t matter what scheme you are in when it is stuff like that. Typical missed assignments in a game would probably be down in the teens.”

On the Tech defense
“What did we learn (in the NC State game)? We learned that (Russell Wilson) was pretty good. But we knew that going in. It doesn’t change. You have to stay in your rush lanes, you have to make a block, you have to make a tackle. It isn’t complicated stuff. I think we have had 125 passes thrown against us, and one interception in the secondary. We have seven sacks, one sack where somebody made a block, the rest they turned them loose.”

On the new 3-4 defense
“I don’t know that it was a huge disappointment. I was disappointed in the way that we have played on offense as much as we have on defense. We have a bunch of guys back and I thought we would be more consistent and play better. We put the ball on the ground way too much. That is coaching and fundamentals and tucking the ball away and squeezing it. Just like we missed on some fourth down plays, two or three times we missed on busted assignments. The thing that would concern me more is if I looked on defense and saw scheme problems, things that were unsound or things that I didn’t think our guys could do, but I’m not seeing that. You are not always going to get a guy unblocked to the ball every time. Just like on offense, there is not always going to be a guy short, sometimes you have to block a guy or two. Those are the things that you have to do.”

On the defense compared to his first two seasons at Tech
“I think there are some of the same but I would say that what we have done through the first four games has been more consistent, as far as what we are trying to do scheme wise, than the last two years. But, I said when it happened; guys have to make plays too. You can’t change coaches every time we don’t tackle somebody, or you turn a guy loose in man coverage. There is enough blame to go around for everybody. The thing that we have done the prior two years here is not beat ourselves and that is what we have to get back to. You can’t have all of those missed assignments and mental errors, we aren’t talented enough to do that and there are very few teams are that talented enough to do that. We can’t punch the clock, we have to play with some urgency and play like we are upsetting somebody and that is the only way that I know how to play.”

On battling complacency coming off of the ACC Championship
“I think you have to have some leadership and you have to have some guys come forward and challenge other guys. We have to do that as coaches as well but, I don’t know that I can get after them anymore than I have gotten after them in the last few weeks. You can’t make somebody want to play. Physically we are right there, it is just mentally that we aren’t into it.”

On the lack of interceptions
“It is a lack of pressure up front and a lack of the secondary not making big plays. I think the pressure; there is no question that if you can get pressure it certainly helps you be better cover guys. We got some pressure with blitzes the last game. Brad [Jefferson] had a couple of sacks on blitzes where he went in untouched and Izaan [Cross] had a sack where they didn’t touch him. Some of it is quick stuff, but you just like to get a few more batted balls. Lord knows when we throw we get pressure.”

On the blocked punt
“The snap wasn’t good. The punter had no urgency to get it off and that ought to be the first thing that goes off in your head if the snap pulls you outside you want to think ‘I might want to get this off’. The other thing is that he needs to step behind the shield. Nothing happened that he hasn’t been told six million times. That punt block we probably have seen six million times in practice. We ran the same one ourselves twice in the game.”

On players stepping up
“I am not going to single out any players, there are a lot of guys that could be leaders. I don’t think one or two players could do it. I think it has to be the nucleus. You have to be hard. There is nothing easy in this game, there are no easy games. All we can do is keep talking. I have to do a better job. If they haven’t figured out that we can lose now then they are not really smart. We played with that kind of urgency in Chapel Hill. We didn’t play perfectly, we still had some missed assignments, and we still had some things, but we played with some urgency and that is what we have to do, play with urgency.”

On Nesbitt’s execution compared to 2009
“Some games he plays really well, like at North Carolina. This game he didn’t play well, but nobody did. I think he takes too much of a hit in the passing game. Sometimes, it is what it is. He sells them sometimes. But a lot of times he is running for his life or doesn’t have time to set his feet. It is kind of like popcorn. It is not just one thing. You get this fixed over here and then this happens.”

On beginning last year 1-1 in the ACC and winning the championship
“It is time to play like you mean it. I don’t know if you call that panicking, but I am talking about playing with some urgency. We need to go to Winston-Salem and play like our hair is on fire. That is the way that we need to play every game. We aren’t going to roll our helmets out and they go, ‘man, these guys have six first round draft picks’. It doesn’t matter what we do they are going to walk all over us.”

On potential of Wake Forest game being high-scoring
“If we have one more point than them I will be happy. I don’t know how much potential there is for a high scoring game. They played us really well on defense a year ago. They scored a bunch of points in their first two games and then they scored 24 and zero. Most of the 24 came in the second half. Are they capable on offense? You bet. They have some very skilled athletes. I don’t know who their quarterback will be. Their starter [Tanner Price] took a real shot in the game [against FSU]. They are going to run their system no matter who their quarterback is. You just never know. If you look at the stats you can say well one team is averaging this and the other this but I think we are still early in the year and it is like we talked about on punt returns, one or two games can skew stats unbelievably. Consistency is key.”

 

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