Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 23, 2013

Opening Statement
“We’ve got a really fast turnaround. We played a physical game on Saturday and got a lot of people banged and bruised, so the key this week with a very physical Virginia Tech team is trying to get to the game. Trying to get there as healthy as we can, trying to walk that fine line between preparing physically as much as you have to and some of the stuff that doesn’t have to be as physical. Bottom line, clearly in my mind, they’ve been the team to beat in the Coastal Division since I’ve been here, and until somebody beats them that’s the way I’ll look at it. It’ll be a challenge coming in. We’ve had some games in the past three or four years that have been really close, and we’ve got to find a way to get over the top of them. We’ve been close but not there.”

On evaluating Virginia Tech’s game film…
“The strength of their team is probably special teams and defense, like it always is. We know how hard it has been for us to tackle Logan Thomas up until a year ago. Our games were somewhat mid-range to high scoring games—last year was more of a defensive game. So they’ll be tough and physical. This game will be without question the best defense we’ve played all year.”

On the effects of the short week…
“You’ve got to cut back on packages, and some of the stuff you do. The biggest thing is just to get guys there physically. Last time we played three games in twelve days, the last game down in Miami we looked like we were running in sand so you hope that’s not the case. At least we’re at home and we’ve got a great crowd, and when they get into the game maybe we can get some energy from that. We’ve got guys who will probably try to play Thursday without putting on pads all week because they’ve been banged up, hit and injured. And at this level that’s hard to do.”

On Virginia Tech’s defense…
“Bud’s [Foster] always does a good job with his scheme. They can all run; they’re very physical. The two inside guys are 300-pound guys who’ve got good feet and can move. And the rest of their guys are true athletes. Thy can run and hit, they’re physical. They also don’t usually screw up. They know what they’re doing.”

On what lessons can be taken from the UNC game…
“I don’t know we learned anything we didn’t know. Our guys fought back, but I knew they’d fight back. We’ve got to learn to come out with a little more intensity to start with. We’ve got enough guys that have played a lot of football, so they know what it’s about. And we as coaches have to do a better job of getting them to that point where they know we can’t get behind in games. And it’s really both sides, because defensively we’ve given up more in the first quarter that the other three, and offensively we haven’t played as well to start. Offensively we gave away a quarter and a half, just stumbling around.”

On playing on national television Thursday night…
“I haven’t thought about it that much. I know we’ve had some success on Thursday nights. Three years ago we played Virginia Tech when they were in the top five on a Thursday night; we played Clemson when they were top five on a Thursday night. So the crowd’s been good and our guys have played hard, but we also weren’t coming off five days rest either. We’ll see. I think our guys will show up to play, because they know what this game is.”

On the play of the secondary versus UNC …
“I think Dominique [Noble] played well. He didn’t get to play very much the week before at Duke and he took it upon himself to have a good week of practice, and he played that way. Jamal [Golden] did some things when he was out there. Demond [Smith], like everybody, had some good plays and some not so good plays. So it was a work-in-progress for all of them. I was really proud of Dominique and the way he came in and played.”

On Vad’s play Saturday…
“He was hot and cold. I think he let his emotions get the best of him to start with, and then in the second half he played better. He’s still a young guy and he’s going to make some mistakes, but he’s also going to make some plays. He’s at the point in his career where one play you want to choke him and the next play you want to hug him. That’s a growing process. The more he plays the better he’ll get.”

On VT Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster’s skill as a coach…
“I think he does a great job. If you look, every year they’re in there at the top of the NCAA in defense. So no question, he does a great job. They’ve got good players, and I think those kids believe in him and what they do. They buy in, and that’s a large part of whatever you do is getting guys to buy in.”

On motivating the team to play Virginia Tech…
“All I know is that they’ve won the last three. And if you’re a competitor, there’s an old saying that revenge is a great motivator for those that care. So I hope our guys care. Plus, it’s a division game and a home game. If we’re going to win our division and compete, it’s going to be hard to do it if we lose home conference games. It’s like I tell our guys every week: ‘You think it’s Virginia Tech’s goal to win the Coastal Division?’ I bet it is. They’ve got the same goal. It’s a big game for them too. They’ll come down ready to play themselves. So you better get ready to match their intensity and effort because you saw Saturday, the other team wants to win too. So we’ll get their best shot, I’m sure.”

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