Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Oct. 25, 2016

PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO | GAME PREVIEW

VIDEO

Opening Statement:
“I thought that we did some good things in the Georgia Southern game. We got off to a really quick start offensively and, for the most part, were pretty efficient on offense throughout the game. Defensively, we made some plays; we gave up a little bit. To [allow a] score there at the end was disappointing. All in all, I felt like once the game started, we pretty much had the game in hand. The bye week came at a good time. After seven-straight games, we were pretty beat up and it was good to be able to get a couple days off for the guys and renew some energy and hopefully come back and finish up the last half of the season strong.”

On Duke’s defense:
“I think that they’re really pretty good on defense when you watch the tape. They’re well coached; the two inside linebackers are both really good players. I think that the defensive line, they play a lot of different people. The [A.J.] Wolf kid has been playing for a long time and he really stands out. The kid, No. 26 [Corbin McCarthy] that kind of took Jeremy Cash’s place, has made a lot of plays – he’s in that same position. And they’ve got a couple of veterans back in the secondary – the [Deondre] Singleton kid from here in Atlanta, from Archer in Gwinnett, has been probably a three-year starter for them and played a lot and the [Breon] Borders kid at corner has been a player that has played a lot. They’re fairly experienced, they’re well coached, they’ve played very well against option teams the last two or three years from Navy to Army to us, so they’ve got a good scheme and execute it well.”

On the impact of former Duke DB Jeremy Cash’s over the last couple of years:
“He made a ton of plays against everyone the last couple of years for them. He was probably, if not the most valuable defensive player in the league, he was certainly right on the short list. He made a ton of plays. Our last two games against them have been different. Last year we did not play well up there, offensively. I think down here the year before, we turned the ball over but had some yards and moved the ball; we had too many turnovers to win.”

On Georgia Tech’s defensive progress at the midpoint of the season:
“We’ve got to be better on third downs and try to get off the field; we beat that horse to death. We’ve talked about it but that’s the bottom line. I think at times we’ve been okay on scoring defense but, of course, the games have [had] limited possessions, so it kind of masks some of that. I think if we can be better on third down then everything will fall into place. It will make everything better if you can get off the field. Turnovers are another big thing; we’ve had a hard time getting turnovers.”

On Georgia Tech’s focus on third-down defense:
“We talk about it a lot and try to practice it and whatever but sometimes you’ve just got to go and make plays. The best way to be good at third-down defense is not being third-and-two all the time. You’ve got to create some negative plays. We did that [against Georgia Southern]; I thought we created a lot of negative plays, we had some sacks but then on second down we weren’t very good. We haven’t been really good at third-and-long either. We’ve had several opportunities when it was third-and-eight-plus to get the guys off the field and we haven’t been great at that either. We’ve got to look at ourselves and look at what we’re doing. If you’re sending five-man pressure and you’re not having any success, then it needs to be six, and if you’re not have any success [with six], it needs to be seven. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and hope it’s going to change.”

On punt returns:
“I think we’ve done a good job of holding up. Brad [Stewart] has done a nice job of making the first guy miss a lot of times when he’s the returner. Truthfully, we probably don’t have a lot of returns. I don’t know how many punt returns we’ve had but several of them have been fair catches and that kind of thing.”

On ACC defenses:
“It’s getting harder and harder. Like I said all along, this is the best the league has ever been defensively, I think, from top to bottom. There have been [good] teams in the past but I think overall, top to bottom, that this is the best it has been defensively. At least the teams we’ve played so far.”

On ACC quarterbacks:
“I think the whole league has changed. This is not the ACC of the 1990s, it’s just not.”

On the legacy he built at Navy:
“I think that [head coach] Ken [Niumatalolo] and the players there deserve the credit for that. I haven’t been there in a long time. I think football is important there now. Once they got a taste of winning and success, I think they tried to stay in that mode and keep up with everything they can do and to help do that. They’ve won some close games this year. I’m sure that it has changed somewhat. They’ve been very fortunate in that they’ve had some good quarterbacks. They’ve done a nice job being creative on defense and creating turnovers and getting some stops because they’re not going to have the same type of players that other people have. It’s just like I was telling somebody the other day, I was talking to [Army head coach] Jeff [Monken], which kills another myth that everybody loves to have is that you can’t play defense with this offense. Army was No. 2 in the country in total defense, which you should be, because you play less plays and less possessions. I think [Navy has] done a really good job of managing and winning a ton of close games. They’ve really done a nice job.”

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