Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 1, 2009

Opening Statement:

“Good morning. It seems like we’ve done this a few times. Now that the regular season is over we talked to our team and basically it’s like the playoffs. We play for an ACC Championship this week. We’re excited to have the chance to go to Tampa and play. We’re especially disappointed with the outcome of the last game, so this gives us a chance to play again. We’re looking forward to it.

“Clemson is a very talented football team that’s very physical. Anytime you get to this point of the year you have a lot of guys that are banged up, as I’m sure they do. We’re trying to piece together the best plan we can, get healthy and go down there and hopefully win a championship for Georgia Tech.”

On if the teams injury situation will have an impact on the preparation for Saturday’s game:

“It’s going to limit some individual guys, but we’ve played 12 games, so if they don’t know where to go by now, then we’re in trouble. You just hope that if they can’t go full speed at practice that they’ll be able to go full speed at game-time. At this point of the year, there isn’t a lot of colliding in practice anyway. I don’t worry as much about practice as I do about them being able to play their best in the game. But, after this we’ll have some time to rest and get healed up a little bit. Hopefully everybody will be ready to give all they got.”

On the impact of winning an ACC Championship could have on recruiting:

“I don’t know if that will have anything to do with [recruiting]. It’s just like when I’m asked about winning individual games. I think the bigger picture in recruiting is having a consistent program and that you win more than you lose and the kids think the program is on the rise and they’ll have the chance to play for championships. There are a lot of things that go into recruiting.”

On Clemson’s 34-17 loss to South Carolina:

“South Carolina played very physical and Clemson turned the ball over and had some penalties. South Carolina has played some pretty good defense all year, they have some good players. It was just a case that they played well and Clemson didn’t play their best game. They dug themselves a hole and couldn’t get out of it. Most of South Carolina’s points, at least early, were set up by turnovers and field position. The game kind of got away from them a little bit. It was similar to our game.”

On if Clemson has changed much since the teams last met of Sept. 10:

“I think they’re probably more efficient offensively. Their quarterback [Kyle Parker] has gotten better as the year has gone on, although he played pretty good against us the last time. Defensively, as I said when we played them, I’m really impressed with their personnel. You look at their defense and you really don’t see a weakness. Then on offense you have C.J. Spiller who is a dynamic special team’s guy and they try to make sure he gets the ball. Then you have Jacoby Ford who is a really good player, so they have a lot of weapons on offensive too.”

On how important it will be for Georgia Tech to get off to a quick start on Saturday:

“It would be great to get off to a good start, Our last three games we’ve fallen behind in all of them. I don’t know if it’s a be all end all because we’ve managed to come back in all our games. We came back on Saturday. If you break the thing down you see that Georgia scored on six of eight possessions and we still had a chance to win the game. Our kids fought back. We lost the turnover battle, which we haven’t done much of this year. We just didn’t get it done, but our kids are pretty resilient. You’d like to get off to a good start, but we’ve been down before.”

On how impressive it was to see the team come back against Georgia:

“It speaks volumes of our kids. They continue to fight and claw and scratch and find ways to compete. We just needed to make another play or two and we just didn’t get it done. That’s what happens when you play football. You have to give Georgia credit. They came in and played very well and ran the ball right down our throat, basically. There’s really nothing more you can say about it”

On the concerns on defense:

“I’m concerned about everything, not just the defense. We’ve had a lot of shootouts this year. The Georgia game wasn’t much different that a lot of other games, we just missed a couple of turns. In some other games, we made the turns. I was looking today that I think we’ve lost five or six starters on defense since we started. We lost Kyle Jackson before the season started, we lost Cooper Taylor, Robert Hall, Ben Anderson and we weren’t very deep to begin with. People forget that when you have success and you’re playing well. Like I’ve said earlier, we’re only playing with 79 scholarships and we’re trying to balance the thing back up. We had guys out there at times Saturday night that were down the line linebackers and they’re lined up playing defensive end against some good folks. I’m not that surprised that they struggled a bit stopping the run. “

On if Clemson or Georgia Tech have to apologize for losing to SEC schools this past weekend:

“No, we’re 10-2; we don’t have to apologize for anything. Maybe for losing to Miami and losing to Georgia, we would’ve liked to win every game. But, that’s football. I told someone earlier you can pick and choose. Nebraska is playing in [the Big 12] Championship game and they lost to Virginia Tech. Do they need to apologize? Pitt’s playing for the Big East Championship and lost to NC State, they don’t need to apologize. Stanford’s had a pretty good year and they lost to Wake Forest, they don’t need to apologize. When you play, it’s going to happen. I can understand the storyline because the two teams played two SEC teams. Last year, us and Clemson both beat Georgia and South Carolina and there didn’t seem to be any kind of story line. No one was saying the ACC is dominant. Every team has good players. Certainly Georgia and South Carolina have their share of good players. So does Clemson and I would like to think Georgia Tech has some too. We’re going to be here for awhile, so it won’t be the last time we play Georgia.”

On limiting big plays on defense:

“You talk about trying to limit big plays all the time. It’s disappointing, but I look at the flip side in the game Saturday night and I told our coaches, ironically it’s like getting a dose of our own medicine. What do you think the other team feels like every week when they get rushed on for 350 yards by us? It’s not fun. Its part of the game, you just have to keep playing and keep coaching.”

On how much the offense has improved since the first Clemson game:

“I don’t know how much better we are. We’ve improved. I think our football team has gotten better each week offensively. Now, will we play a good game against Clemson, I don’t know. They’ve got some matchups that are tough. We just have to go play. Nobody is going to run up and down the field on them, they’re too good. We just have to score one more point than they do. “

On the overall assessment of the play of the offense all season:

“Well, I think we’re still working to try and play better. But, all-in-all, we wanted to get better from a year ago and certainty we did. I’m really proud of Josh [Nesbitt]. I think he was very deserving of being the All-ACC first team quarterback. I think Jonathan Dwyer had another great year. Demaryius Thomas is 126 yards short of breaking the yardage record here and we’ve been playing a long time, which is pretty amazing since everyone told him he wasn’t going to catch a pass. The offensive line has played well. Anytime you can rush like we have, you have to give them some credit. All-in-all, I don’t think you’re satisfied unless you score a touchdown every time you get the ball. Once the season is over we’ll have time to step back and reassess everything.”

On conference championship games:

“Personally, I’m not a big fan of [conference championship games], unless everyone plays them. I think that if every league had one it would be something different. You have the Big 12, ACC and SEC playing a championship game and the other leagues don’t. I think that’s an advantage if you want to try to get teams up in the rankings. I’ll give you a great example. In the SEC, if they don’t have a championship games their two teams [Florida and Alabama] are probably playing for the National Championship. We’re excited that we’re in the game. I’m excited that since we have one that we’re in it, but my take on it has always been I prefer a playoff with 16 teams like the [FCS] does it. I don’t see that happening for awhile, that’s just my personal opinion.”

On if out-of-conference games the week before Conference Championship games are diminished at all:

“I don’t think that had anything to do with our performance against Georgia. We were stoked up and excited to play. We just got beat. If you play enough times you’ll lose eventually and we didn’t play particularly well. They did and they won the game. My hats off to them, but I don’t think the [ACC] championship game had anything to do with that. Like I said before, you can’t let the loss effect you. You know it’s a big game and you wanted to win, but you’ve got bigger fish to fry. That’s the only barometer. I think the team that plays the best will win the game. Both teams will be excited to play. Georgia Tech has only been there one time and Clemson has never been there, so I can’t fathom that either team will show up in Tampa with a chance to win the conference championship and to go to the Orange Bowl and not be fired up to play.”

On the decision to pass on four consecutive pays on Tech’s last drive late in the fourth quarter against Georgia:

“What happens is that you have to go back to the start. There were two, almost exactly similar situations in the game. Let me take you back. In the first half, we had the ball on their 40-yard line with 3:23 to go in the half. We ran the ball four times, completed a pass and got sacked and had the ball on our 45 with 28 seconds left. I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box, but that registered. So, at the end of the game, we get the ball back on the 37-yard line with 3:06 to go. We ran the ball the first four plays; we gained 13 yards and burned the clock all the way down to 1:49. We’re almost at midfield and we have a 1:49 left. First play, we try to hit [Demaryius] Thomas on a post corner. We had a chance, but didn’t make a play so we don’t get it. The second play was supposed to be an out and up. We got a wheel route and he still had a chance to catch it. If he catches that we have first and goal at the three and we’re probably not having this discussion. The third down play was an option route to break across the middle of the field because their linebacker was tied to the b-back and he felt he had a chance to beat the guy deep and he did. He ran by him. To their credit, their kid made it up. Then on fourth down, we tried to throw it to the marker and it didn’t work.

“It’s the kind of situation where if you run it three times and don’t get a first down and there’s like 14 seconds left then everyone says you’re an idiot and you should’ve thrown it. If you throw it and don’t catch it, then they say you’re an idiot and you should’ve run it. So, unless you score, you’re not going to be right either way. I think most people that understand the game know what it was about.”

On if there should’ve been more desperation by the players on the last drive:

“The first play we called was a pass play that Josh [Nesbitt] decided to run with. The second play was a run play and we end up about a yard short of the first down. Then on third down we try to run again and we get pushed back straight into the mesh and we fumble the ball and have to take a time out. Now it’s fourth and two. On fourth down, we tossed the ball and got the first down. There was no reason to be in a hurry because all the passes were falling incomplete and the clock was stopped. It’s hindsight, if you pitch the ball and the guy runs for 20 yards then that’s great, but how many 20 yard runs did we have at that point in the game. You have to take all things into consideration and you have to put your kids in the best situation to win the game. People are going to be frustrated when you lose. If I had to do it over, I would not have done anything different.”

On Bobby Bowden:
“He’s had an unbelievable career and he’s such a good person that you almost hate to see it come to a close. I think what they accomplished in the 1990’s no one will ever come close to again, it’s unbelievable. He’s meant so much to college football and like I’ve said before, I consider it an honor to have coached against him. That’s how much I respect what he’s done. I wish it would’ve worked out the way that he wanted it to, but sometime it doesn’t.”

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