Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 24, 2009

Opening Statement:
“Good morning. I think the week off last week came at the right time. I was encouraged by what I saw in practice yesterday. The guys were excited to be out there after a few days off. We’re a day ahead of schedule getting ready for the game because we put a lot of work in yesterday. We’re excited to have the opportunity to play at home on Saturday night against a Georgia team that is very talented.”

On Georgia:
“I’m sure they’re going to come in here and play one of their best games. I would expect nothing less. We’re going to try and get ready to play one of our best [games]. They’ve got a lot to play for and so do we. It ought to be a good game.”

On the Georgia Tech-Georgia Rivalry:
“I know the game’s important, because it’s important to our fan base and the school and everyone else. Honestly, I get ready for this game as I get ready for any other game. I think you have to do that. I told somebody earlier that this is not the end all do all for our football program to beat Georgia. We want to win our share of games against them and it’s an in-state rivalry game and all. I understand that, but it’s not going to define our year if we beat Georgia.”

On if last season’s 45-42 win over Georgia defined Georgia Tech’s season:
“Well, last year we didn’t win the [Coastal] division and we didn’t have a chance to play for the ACC Championship. I don’t know if it defined our season last year. I know it did to some of our fans. I think you’re putting [Georgia] on a pretty high pedestal. Do you think beating Georgia Tech defines Georgia’s season? I bet if you ask them, they’d probably tell you no. It’s an important game and you don’t want to diminish that, but let’s not get carried away.”

On if beating Georgia was the team’s top goal a season ago:
“It was a goal. I don’t think we have a number one goal. It was the first one on the board. What is the third one on the list this year, finish in the top five in rushing? It was a goal because Georgia Tech had not beaten Georgia in seven years.”

On if beating Georgia a season ago gives Georgia Tech more confidence coming into this year’s game:
“I have no idea. I think our guys will be excited to play. It’s going to be a great crowd; it’s a rivalry game and a big game, so they’ll be really fired up. I don’t know if they’re going to have a celebration in the streets if we win Saturday night. We still have other fish to fry.”

On last year’s second half comeback against Georgia:
“It showed some character on our player’s part that they fought back and continued to play, but so did Georgia. They came back, as well. You’d like to see this game be very competitive and I think it probably will be for the most part. I don’t think one side is going to get to the point where they can just go away and hide from the other. I hope that’s not the case, but if it is, gosh I hope it’s us. But, I don’t see that happening. Both teams have too many good players.”

On how Georgia Tech’s fan base treats the Georgia game:
“You’re going to have fans that treat any game as a big game. Certainly, anytime you work with people everyday and you’re around them in the state, it certainly makes your life easier if your team wins. You can be the guy cracking all the jokes and doing that kind of thing. Each fan has to have their individual idea of the game. I understand it’s a big game. I’m not backing away from that, but what I’m trying to say is, it’s not going to end our season if we win or lose the game. I’m not going to let one game define my football season when I have to play 13 games. Now, if I was 0-12, I might let that one game define me, but we have other things to play for. Does that lessen the fact that we want to win the game, no. We want to win the game as much as Georgia does.”

On if the Georgia-Georgia Tech game has any effect on recruiting:
“It might have something to do with it. I think there are a lot of other factors involved. Do they want to see the programs comparable, sure. But, there’s a lot of contrasts between Georgia and Georgia Tech, far more than who wins the game. The location, majors that are offered, prestige of certain programs, there’s a lot of factors that go into it. Does that mean that Georgia is never going to beat Florida on a recruit because Florida won the game? A lot of these kids will still go to Georgia; there are a lot of other reasons that come into play.”

On if it was surprising to see how important winning the Georgia game was to Georgia Tech fans:
“I know that they were excited that we won the game. It probably wasn’t as big of a deal to me because I hadn’t been here through the losing. If I had lost to someone seven years in a row, it probably would’ve been a bigger deal. I don’t want to leave the wrong impression because I do realize that the game is important and I know for a lot of our fans that this is the game they want to win. We want to get to the point where our program is bigger than one game. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to dismiss that game and say `oh, we don’t care if we win.’ We want to win the game, but we want to do some other things that just beating Georgia won’t do for you. You have to have some consistency.

“When you get into a rivalry game, it’s like anything. Georgia has more to gain beating us then we do beating them. We’re ranked, they’re not. It’s the complete opposite of last year and it will probably go back-and-forth. In an ideal situation, both teams would be really good. I think that Georgia is a really good team. Do not underestimate the talent they have because of their record. Mark [Rich] has built a really strong program in Athens. They’ve got good football players and a good team. They haven’t had the type of year anybody expected or wanted, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have good football players and a good program. When you win so many games consistently like they’ve done, it’s hard to meet those expectations every year. You build a monster and you have to feed it. They still have a good team.”

On if the injury sustained to Georgia wide out A.J. Green will have an impact on preparation for Georgia’s offense:
“They are going to run the same offense whether A.J. Green plays or not. They’ll just put someone else in. A.J. Green might be the best receiver in the country, so not having him certainly will hurt them. But, it doesn’t change the way we are preparing for them because they will still have a good player out there. I guarantee a four or five star recruit will be out there taking his place. It’s not like they are going to cancel their offense if A.J. doesn’t play. We’re worried about Georgia Tech; we don’t approach this game any differently than any other game. I don’t know what Georgia’s going to do; they might run the wishbone or throw it every down. We’re getting ready for A.J. Green and everyone else on their roster.”

On if it is surprising that Georgia is 6-5 on the season:
“Quite honestly, I haven’t paid that much attention to them during the year, outside what everyone was saying about them on Sunday after the game. When you watch the tape, when they don’t beat themselves, they’re a very good football team. Put on the Kentucky game. They drag them up and down the field, but they killed themselves with four turnovers in the second half, just like any other team in America would. There are not many teams that could turn the ball over four times in a half and win the game. But, that doesn’t take away from the talented players they have. It’s just like anything else; maybe they don’t turn it over this week. That’s why you play the game because you never know what is going to happen.”

On if there are any concerns that the Yellow Jackets will come out rusty after a bye week:
“We’ll know on Saturday. We came out yesterday and looked pretty good, but that was against the scout team who probably isn’t going to put up as good of a fight. We’ll know on Saturday when we play. That’s my concern for us, to play as good as we can play. If we can do that, then we’ll be able to live with the result. Just go out there and do your thing. Have some confidence in what your doing and play.”

On Georgia’s defense:
“They’re big and physical inside. I think they have some NFL-caliber defensive tackles. Their linebackers run well. They have some corners that are younger, but are very talented. They have some good players. We just have to line up and execute. That’s why you play the games. Last year we had some success in that they missed some tackles and we hit some big plays. It wasn’t like we were slowing them down; they went up and down the field pretty good too.”

On concerns in kick coverage:
“It’s a concern for us every game because we know that every team we play will have someone back there that can catch it and go. You just have to be sound and do your job and hope that you can make a tackle in the open field. You can’t play scared because you’re not going to be very successful. That’s what we did last year; we went in there and played. When we got down early we didn’t say, “Oh, here we go again”. We just kept playing.”

On Josh Nesbitt’s role on the team:
“I think Josh has been a very valuable part of our football team, no question. He’s been a leader and he kind of stirs the drink that makes it go on offense. He’s been a really good player. He certainly is deserving of any kind of accolades that he gets. It’s too bad that so much of that stuff is perception. But, he’s been a valuable member of our team, there’s no doubt about that.”

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