Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 10, 2009

Opening Statement:

“Well, we’re getting closer to the finish line as far as the conference race goes. We have it in our sight now. We’ve talked about it for about six weeks and we’ve got to go up to Durham and play an improved Duke team. It’s one game to clinch our division and get a spot in the [ACC] Championship Game, so it’s a huge game for the guys and our program.

“I was proud of the guys on Saturday. They found a way to win. I don’t think we played one of our best games, especially offensively. I think you have to give Wake Forest a lot of credit for some of that, but we were our own worst enemy with penalties and a ton of missed assignments on offense. The bottom line is we found a way to win. That makes this week’s game huge.”

On if the mistakes made by the offense can be attributed to the fact that Georgia Tech has played nine weeks in a row:

“I don’t know what the mistakes were an affect of. On Saturday, the guys that have carried the team all year didn’t play their best game. That’s understandable, you’re not going to be at your highest level every game. I equate it to guys that are great pitchers. Even guys that wins the Cy Young Award get shelled once in a while or they go out and don’t have their best stuff. That’s kind of where we were [on Saturday] and combine that with the penalties. We moved the ball pretty well, but just kept bogging ourselves down.”

On the team’s progress since the 33-17 loss at Miami on Sept. 17:

“I think we’ve gotten better as the year has gone on. I’ve said before that I think the Miami game was somewhat of an anomaly. Miami has a good football team, but when I put that tape back on, it looked like we were running in sand. We were gassed; it was our third game in 12 days. We just didn’t play very well. Everybody talked about how Miami shut us down offensively. But, if you go look at the tape, we never had the ball. In the second half, we had the ball three times and scored two touchdowns. What Miami did was a good job of controlling the ball and a good job of scoring. We could never close any ground or catch up, so the game kind of got away from us.

“I think that we’ve gotten better in most aspects of the game, but we haven’t been as consistent as you would like. Honestly, we’ve been pretty hot and cold on defense. At times we’ve looked pretty good and at times we haven’t. The offense has been a little more consistent. Overall, I think we’re a better football team than when we played Miami.”

On the importance of Derrick Morgan’s sack of Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner late in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s win:

“There were a lot of big plays in the game. Derrick [Morgan] certainly sacking [Riley Skinner] was huge. It’s hard to pick any one football play in a game and say, “that was the play”, There were a lot of plays that were made on both offense and defense that changed the game. Certainly, Derrick turned the dial up in the second half and you could tell that he didn’t want to lose the game.”

On confidence in play calling as the season has gone on, especially on the fourth and one call in overtime against Wake Forest:

“Honestly, I really didn’t think much about it. The big thing for me was, we won our second coin toss of the year in overtime. It was important to win because in overtime in college, you have a big advantage if you go on defense first. Part of my thinking on going for it on fourth down was just that, this is a strong part of our football team. If we go ahead and kick the field goal and tie the game, then we have to go right back on offense. I didn’t want to give [Wake Forest] a chance to win the game. We had the chance to win the game. Even if we kick the field goal, score a touchdown on the very next play and kick the extra point, they still have a chance to win the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion. I wanted to have the chance to win the game. I looked out there and I thought we could make it and win the game. I never thought about what would happen if we didn’t make it. I don’t care; in my mind, I thought what gave us the best chance to win the game was to go for it and make it. If we hadn’t made it, then it would be on me.”

On an improved Duke team:

“I think the difference has been, honestly, defense. They’ve given up 30 points twice this year, once to Florida State and once to Kansas on the road. If you look at their last three conference games, they’ve given up 13, 19, and 19. Their throwing the ball for a lot of yards, but the bottom line is against North Carolina they only had 125 total yards of offense and that game was tied at six late in the third quarter. They’ve been better on offense, but I think on defense is where they’re much improved.”

On the importance of this week’s game:

“The way I looked at it, if we didn’t win against Wake Forest, we’re not going to win the division anyway. Could we lose on Saturday and still win, maybe. Since we lost to Miami, I told our guys every Monday that this week’s game is single elimination. It’s like the playoffs. That is the way we’ve tried to go at it. I said after the Miami game I thought no one would win our division with two losses. If we lose on Saturday, then maybe somebody will, but if we win, nobody won’t.”

On if the team will take anything positive from Wake Forest victory:

“I hope that we learned some lessons because we didn’t play as well as we could. Whether it was nerves, or focus or whatever. I told the guys on Monday that they got away with one. Sometimes, if you are going to have a special season, you need that to happen. But, let’s make sure we don’t let that happen again and play our best game this week. We haven’t played our best game yet. I challenge them every week about it. We’ve yet to put together a game where we play well in every face. It’s what we’re shooting for every week.”

On Georgia Tech’s perception nationally and in the BCS:

“I really don’t know. There needs to be a playoff, its ridiculous. I can see why you wouldn’t want a playoff if you’re in the Big Ten. If you win your league, you have a chance to play for the [national] championship. It would be great if seven teams were undefeated at the end, I would like to see how they would explain that. Honestly, you can’t worry about it. It’s all about where you start. It’s clear that you can do it because you do it in the lower levels. I guess the guys that are in charge don’t want it.”

On Derrick Morgan:

“He’s a great player. He has great physical tools. He about as quick and explosive coming off the ball as anyone I’ve ever been around. He’s got a lot of god given ability and he works at it. He’s a good football player. He was year ago. Last year, he didn’t get all the notoriety, but he was one of our best players.”

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