Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 26, 2013

Opening Statement
“It’s a big week and I think everybody’s excited any time you have a rivalry game of this magnitude. I know that the fans, the players, and the coaches look forward to this game every year. Certainly Georgia has a good football team and they’re probably better than even their record would indicate. They have some very talented players. Offensively, if Todd Gurley isn’t the best running back in the country, he is certainly part of a small line. He’s a very talented player not only in running the football, but also very talented in the passing game as a receiver. They do a good job of getting him the ball. They’re offensive line has done a very nice job all year. They’ve been a very explosive team offensively all season. Defensively, they were young to start the season, but as you watch the tapes they’ve certainly made progress. The two linebackers, Ramik Wilson and [Amarlo] Herrera, are both really good players. The freshman [Leonard] Floyd coming off the edge is good. Garrison Smith has played very well against us every year he’s played inside. It’s a challenge for our guys, but it’s one we are looking forward to.”

How important will it be to stop the run on Saturday?
“For the most part, we’ve been pretty good on rush defense throughout the year. It depends on how many guys you have to get in the box to stop the run. That’s the key. Clearly, they’re going to run the ball some. When you have backs like they do, you’re going to do that. They’re going to get [Gurley] the ball because he’s a load to tackle. That will be a challenge, but you can’t put so many guys in there that you give away the passing game and put your guys on an island. It’s kind of a mixed bag. You have to mix it up and hope that your front six can play the run and you don’t have to bring a seventh guy or an eighth guy into the box to play the run.”

What are your thoughts on Aaron Murray and his replacement Hutson Mason?
“First on Aaron Murray, clearly the guy has been a tremendous football player at Georgia. He’s had a great career and I have a great deal of respect for him. His competitive nature and the way he competes he’s brought them back so many times. It says all you need to know about him.”

“Hutson Mason was a highly decorated player coming out of Lassister. He threw for a lot of yards. I can even remember in the last couple of years a couple of times that people were clamoring for Hutson Mason instead of Aaron Murray. Clearly, he’s a talented guy. I don’t think it will change a lot of what they do because he’s been in the program four years. It’s an opportunity for him to showcase what he can do. We don’t expect that very much will change even with him in there. We have great respect for him even though he hasn’t played a lot.”

What will be your message for the seniors before their last game at Bobby Dodd Stadium?
“I don’t know that it will be one, single message. During the week, you think about it and you talk to them. We condition on Mondays and our guys always look forward to the gassers. Now I’m being a little facetious. But normally we run several, but yesterday we had only the seniors run and they ran one. For most of them, that’ll be the last gasser that they run, especially here at Georgia Tech. It’s been a good group. I’m not only proud of them for what they’ve done on the field, but for what they’ve done off the field. They’re all in line to get their degree and six or seven of them already have their degree. It’s been a good group and certainly we’re going to miss them. I think it really starts to hit you as a coach around the same time it hits them – when you’re out there on the field on Saturday honoring all the seniors. You see them for the family for the last time and you realize how much time and effort they put into the program and what they meant to you not only as players but as people.”

What was this senior class’s identity?
“Each football team has its own identity and I think that’s developed from the leadership on the team. Be it the seniors, be it underclassmen or whoever. Clearly for most of the guys who come here to play it can’t just be about football. It’s got to be about academics and that’s got to be important to them or it won’t last. They might show up, but they won’t last here very long if the academic part of it is not important to them. For the most part, that might be the one single trait that most of them have in mind. You have all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds and ethnicity backgrounds. It’s like at any other place I’ve coached. We’ve got guys from about every background you can imagine.”

What are your thoughts on Robbie Godhigh?
“Robbie has such a strong lower body. He’s not the tallest guy in the world or the biggest, but from the hips down he’s really built and solid. He’s a really strong guy. So sometimes his size fools people in that he’s pretty explosive and a hard guy to get down. I also think that where those guys get the ball out on the perimeter, they’re more inclined to break through corners and safeties than the guys inside with big guys. There’s no doubt that the way he plays is infectious to everybody else and he’s been a tremendous player for us. Not only this year, but the last couple years.”

What is a better feeling: winning the ACC Title or beating UGA?
“Oh I don’t know, but I think we’ve got the point. It’s a big game. Everybody understands that it’s a huge game. Clearly our guys want to win the game. I get a chuckle sometimes out of people who tell me to make sure that our guys take the game seriously. As if we took the game more seriously we would play better. We take the game seriously. I can assure you. What the guys have to do is to be able to control that. I had the pleasure of working with Erk Russell for a long time. He had all kinds of phrases, but one of the ones that stuck with me was `playing with intelligent fanaticism.’ That’s what you have to do. You can’t just go Harry Caray and play with such emotion and out of control. You have to be able to funnel that and control that emotion. You have to play with that type of emotion and that type of attitude every game, especially the rivalry game. But the team that can control that is the team that has the best chance. Both sides want to win the game because it’s a big game and both sides take it seriously.”

Why has Jabari Hunt-Days not played many snaps over the past few games?
“He hasn’t played a lot of snaps because we haven’t played a lot of base defense and he hasn’t been on nickel. But he’s answered the call and done what we’ve asked him to do. It’s been a case of him not being in the package that was on the field most of the time and that’s why he hasn’t played a lot recently. “

How does the GT-UGA rivalry compare to the Army-Navy rivalry?
“It’s different. All of the rivalries are unique. Somebody asked me that today actually. The Army-Navy rivalry there is such respect for each other for 364 days a year. Everything in the weight room says `Beat Army.’ When the plebes square the corners it’s `Beat Army.’ When you end the fight song it’s `Beat Army.’ But when the game is over, the two sides will embrace and they’ll go sing each other’s alma mater. There’s that respect and they know that they’re going to be on the same team defending the country. Everybody doesn’t quite feel that way with this one. They’re probably a lot of people who have the respect, but there are a lot of people who don’t. That’s probably the biggest difference. A lot of times, this one’s going to go on because if they’re in or around Georgia and around each other they will rib one another with this one for a long, long time. Whereas those guys who play in the Army-Navy game, they may be on the same mission somewhere and are depending on each other for support. They’re different in that way, but make no mistake they are both very serious rivalries. You want to win. We’ve had a little bit of success with the other one at this point than we have with this one.”

What has Ted Roof brought to the defense?
“I don’t know that you can single out one thing. The first thing to look at is that we’ve had some seniors who have played a lot and the more you play hopefully the better you going to get. But Ted’s made it fun for them to play and they’re not bogged down with the thought process or what-ifs. He just turns them loose and lets them play. That would probably be the biggest difference. But it’s like I said before, you guys want to evaluate the group after every game and it’s hard to do that. You have to factor competition into it and that kind of thing. We can play a game like last week and look good on offense and defense and crush people Then the next week against a Clemson or Georgia, we’re not as good. And then you say `What happened?’. Well maybe nothing happened. Maybe it was a different competition level. Now I think our defense has made vast improvements this year and the stats bear that out. Ted and his staff have done a nice job, but there are a lot of contributing factors including their coaching ability.”

What do you see on tape from Georgia’s defense?
“Early on they had a hard time lining up. They also turned a lot of guys loose and played some pretty good offenses. The last few games they’ve been better. Against Auburn they gave up some yards, but forced them to kick field goals in the red zone. Again maybe it’s the competition, but I think they’re just growing up. It’s hard to pinpoint anything exactly. They’ve given up a lot of big plays in the passing game where they’ve just basically turned guys loose. It doesn’t matter how fast you run or how high you jump, if you don’t cover somebody they’re probably going to catch it. There’s been some of that. I would say that the biggest thing is just growing pains. They’ve got very talented players and they always have.”

Will you be scoreboard watching in the ACC on Saturday?
“Not really. I learned a long time ago to try not to worry about things I can’t control. That’s out of our control. Could it happen? I could see it happening. I think two of the teams we need to win may even be favored. But that’s something that’s out of our control. We could have taken care of that at Clemson and we didn’t.”

Could you compare Todd Gurley to another player you’ve seen?
“I never had a chance to coach against him, but Herschel Walker. He’s a big guy who runs through people and is fast. I mean he’s a good player and he’s going to be a good player for a long time if he doesn’t get hurt. He’s not only going to be good at Georgia, he’s going to be a heck of an NFL running back too. He’s got all the tools that they look for. He’s good at running the football and is big and physical. He’s a good receiver coming out of the backfield. He can do a lot of things.”

Does not having much film on Hutson Mason make it more difficult to prepare for him?
“You’d like to have the film, but no not really. You have to get ready for what they do. They’re not going to totally change their offense in three days from what they’ve been doing for years. No matter who the quarterback has been they’ve run the same system. Now will they highlight him in what he does better? Sure. That’s what they’ll do. If you’ve watched him play, he can do all the things that Murray can. He can throw the field out and has a strong arm. He knows their offense and how to set the blocking. He knows the checks and he knows what they want to do. I would imagine their game plan would be more geared to what they want to do against us than what Hutson Mason can do. I think they have confidence that he can run their offense. If there’s a certain thing that he does better or if there are certain throws he makes, they may focus a little more on that. But it will be in their package and I don’t think they’ll have to change anything for him.”

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