Sept. 23, 2017
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Johnson
“It was great to start out with a conference win, especially a division win. It’s always good. I thought that our defense played really, really well today, especially in sudden-change situations. I think we had four times when we turned the ball over and I think all four times they went three-and-out right after that, so that was huge. Offensively, we looked like we hadn’t played in two weeks. Just sloppy. I think all four turnovers came from the same position, which is really disappointing.”
On whether the team was more aggressive today than in the past:
“I think we’ve been more aggressive defensively the last two games. We brought a little more stunts, a little more pressure, and our guys are better at that. We’re not huge, and we’re not real long but we’re quick and fast and, really, other than the first drive when we turned the back loose down the middle of the field, we didn’t give up many big plays. And when you don’t give up big plays and you get negative plays, it makes it hard for the offense to go.”
On the continued high production in the running game:
“The expectations have always been high on that side, and they’re still going to be high. I look at this thing, and I think we rush for something like 436 yards, and it should have been at least 150 more. So it wasn’t one of TaQuon’s [Marshall] better days throwing, but then in the third quarter he hit the one pass to Ricky [Jeune] when we had to get ourselves out of a hole. Really there was kind of no use to throw, as long as we ran the ball three times, we were going to get a first down most of the time.”
On the performance of the offensive line that helped the running game:
“We were getting pretty good push out of the center and the guard. We were kind of combo-ing and double teaming. We had a hard time getting out on the Mike’s [linebacker] sometimes. KirVonte [Benson] ran the ball really hard and so did those guys, because they would take the Mike on. The first guy who would get to him would be 4 or 5 yards down the field and then they would turn it into 6 or 7 because they would get their pads down and run. But we got to do better to get off on the Mike but, yeah, we were knocking them off pretty good.”
On the pressure that the defensive line provided:
“I thought we got good pressure from the outside, we lost contain some, which is concerning. We’ve got to do better where when we get the outside pressure to try to contain and get the push inside. But, yeah, Antonio [Simmons] got some good pressure; Anree [Saint-Amour] got back there. Even at the end, Tyler Vernon looked like he was getting some pressure, and he did a nice job keeping contain and making the guy step up.”
On the fumbles:
“We work on it all the time. You’ve got to be focused enough to care enough not to do it. And nobody fumbles on purpose, he didn’t go out there and fumble on purpose, but you have to learn to push through some times when you get tired, you can’t get sloppy with your fundamentals, you have to continue to push through. And we need to help him. We probably don’t need him to play so much. I don’t know how many times he carried the ball – 29 times – that’s probably a lot for him. Once Jerry [Howard] went in and fumbled, we didn’t put him back in, and Qua [Searcy] went in and had a couple nice runs – we got three guys, we just need to play them more.”
On how he felt the kicking game was:
“Other than the punt return for a touchdown? I thought we kicked the ball well, even the one they returned for a touchdown. The kid kicked the ball all the way from the numbers – it was a left punt – and he kicked it all the way between the numbers and the sideline. It was great punt. We just got wadded up and missed a couple of tackles, and we have to reevaluate who’s on that team. Then once we missed the two tackles, that kid is a really good returner, and when he got to the sideline, he did well. I thought we covered kicks good – the kickoffs.”
PITTSBURGH HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI
“Obviously a disappointing loss, but I thought our kids fought their tails off. I can’t really question their effort, but maybe the execution. We rushed for 37 and lost time of possession by 10 minutes, and it was 10 minutes at the half, and we’re still in the ballgame. It’s a four-point game. In the second half, we couldn’t make plays when we needed to. We couldn’t run the ball. Give them credit.
“We’ve continued to not be moving up front with our offensive line. We can point fingers at the quarterbacks and all that, but if you’re not running the ball, there are not many quarterbacks who can sit back in that pocket and throw it all day. And at times we don’t even protect the quarterback, so we’ve got to get a lot better offensively and defensively. Quadree (Henderson) opened up on a punt return, which was one of the bright spots.
“I’ll take our guys any day to war, and I applaud their effort and trying their tails off, but I guess we aren’t there yet.”
On not being able to stop the Tech dive play
“It’s a little bit of everything, guys missing tackles, then you give up on a G-option and the quarterback scrambles for a touchdown, and everybody starts thinking out there (gestures with arms outward). They’re good at it. They know what they’re doing in there. Their guards would come down inside and then wheel our D-tackles out. We’ll look at the tape; it’s so hard to see exactly what was happening in there. We did some things in the second half to hopefully slow it down.
“It comes down to possession. You talk about dives … they had 67 rushes. You’re not going to win a football game. Ten minutes (Tech advantage on time of possession), we need to flip the 10 minutes so we have 20 more minutes. When you look at what we gave up per carry, you probably won’t be as sick as you are when you look at the total, 436, which is more than we’ve given up in the last two games. But why is the 436, because we don’t sustain drives. We probably had to have seven three-and-outs. Defensively, we get four turnovers, and we should have had a fifth one when we had the late hit on the quarterback. You should win the game when you have four turnovers. We got out there offensively and didn’t take the momentum with the sudden change and do anything with it. That’s probably the most disappointing thing. Some of the guys on offense aren’t playing their best football, and some of them are seniors. They’ve got to play better if you’re going to win ballgames.”
On having your longest losing streak (as head coach) and a young team
“Every week’s a challenge. They’re all challenges. There’s challenges when you win, because you’re still trying to fix problems. But I’m not worried about winning streaks and losing streaks; I’m worried about those kids in that locker room. They’re fighting their tails off every week. We need to find out what their problems are, pinpoint them and fix them. As coaches, that’s our job. I don’t care, win or lose, I want to coach our guys. That’s why we coach. We’ve got a ways to go, that’s when it’s even more fun to coach. That’s why we coach. If they were perfect, then what would they need us for. They need us right now as coaches, and that’s why we’ll be there for our kids.”
On frustration level given all the rushing yards?
“Again I’m not worried about rushing yards. I’m worried about wins and losses and if you’re getting the ball for 10 more minutes with that offense, you’re going to be in trouble. They can run the ball, especially if you give them 10 more minutes. It’s tough. Even when you have the ball that much, we got four turnovers, and our kids out there caused them. That’s a positive. But we’ve got to do something with the football. You can’t win if you don’t score points. We got 10 points on offense today, and we have 24 players at halftime and our defense had about 50. That’s not good.”