Postgame Quotes: Football vs. No. 24/25 Tennessee (CFAKickoff)

Sept. 5, 2017

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GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Johnson

Opening Statement:

“Well, I was so sorely disappointed with the outcome. I think there were some positives that we can build on in the game. Our young guys on offense I thought went out and played pretty well, the quarterback, the B-back. The last fumble killed us. I think we’ve got the game in control down there, in spite of being horrendous on special teams, kicking the ball, I think we could have scored there, run the clock down, and I’m not sure they would have had enough time to score twice, but we didn’t, they did. You give them credit. The guy knocked the ball out, and I just felt like we had a better chance of getting a two-point conversion than we did of stopping them. They had scored twice on three plays in two overtimes.

“[In] the second half, once they got rolling, there wasn’t much stopping them.”

On the defense being worn down:
“We had the ball 41 minutes, they had it 18. If they wore down in this game, they’d better get their butts home.”

On QB TaQuon Marshall:
“He played his tail off. I thought he played tremendously, and I knew he was going to be the starter for about two and a half or three weeks. He gives us a guy — he can actually throw the ball well, too. We didn’t throw it a lot. But I thought he played well. I thought KirVonte [Benson] ran hard. I thought he played well, too.”

On the Georgia Tech defense in the second half:

“We never created a negative play, so you never get them behind, and it’s then they get some big plays. They threw a couple jump balls and got them, and we missed tackles. They throw a little stop route over there and we missed two tackles; give their kid credit. I mean, he made nice plays, broke a tackle, but that’s it in a nutshell. If you never get a negative play, it’s hard to play.”

On reviewing the last play to see if it wasn’t a forward pass:
“I don’t know. We screwed it up. That should have been a walk-in. That play was so — that should have been a walk-in, and we screwed that up, so we didn’t deserve to win. They didn’t have enough guys over there, and we tried to reach out and grab somebody as opposed to releasing inside and clinging the corner because there’s one guy you could have pitched to or run it in yourself, and we didn’t do it. So we didn’t make the play, they did.”

On special teams and kicking:

Try a different kicker, I guess. You know, it was disappointing. Either of those field goals ices the game, too. The one at the end of the game is 36 yards. He kicked that thing head high, you know, the kickoff, so you know, we’ll give the other kid a chance and see what he does.”

On trying for two in the last play:
“It was a counter action. We’d set up and we’d run a bunch of two-point plays out of that web thing, a pick screen out of the thing, so we were going to bring the motion, and they took the safety over there, it was going to be a time out, so all they’ve got left is a 5 technique and a hip linebacker, so we’re supposed to be able to release and pull the guard along the 5. Our tackle reaches out and tries to reach the 5 and then the guard turned up into him and there was nobody — the quarterback had to turn up and there was nobody on the linebacker, and then he pitched it late, but he had to kind of throw it out there. If we do it right, even if we don’t block the guys, then he could have pitched the ball and the guy would have been a race to — we just didn’t do it right.”

On QB TaQuon Marshall’s rushing:

He was capable tonight. They ran the MIKE linebacker the whole game. They just lined him up seven yards deep and ran, so they were playing with virtually four guys inside, and we were just following the B-back with a quarterback and run it in there. You know, it was what it was. If they play that way, the quarterback is going to carry the ball some.”

On the positives to take away from the game:
“This doesn’t do anything to your goals other than it’s a game that we should have won, and we didn’t. So we’ve got to play a team here on three-days rest that’s pretty good. You know, my big concern right now is those kids on offense that just played 96 plays, and then they have to turn around and play again on Saturday. There won’t be a whole lot of practicing going on. We’ll have to try to get them rested to play.”

On if OL Shamire Devine made an impact with his physicality:
“Until you see the film, it’s hard to tell with those guys inside. He’s a big guy, and they were kind of sitting back catching a little, and he’s — when you do that, he’s a big guy.”

TENNESSEE HEAD COACH BUTCH JONES

Opening statement:

“Well, what can I say, a very, very good college football game. I have a lot of respect for Georgia Tech. You know, the problems that they faced from preparation and all that, but just really proud of our players, and we spoke all week long about a will to win, and that was kind of the thing was like find out our will to win. We knew that this was going to be a game that you had to show some resolve and some grit and you had to play complementary football.

“In the first half obviously offensively I did not think we played to our standard and our expectations. We had way too many negative yardage football plays. We had a 3rd-and-long way too many times and we had way too many dropped passes on the perimeter.

“The second half, obviously Marquez Callaway, what can I say about that individual. He sparked us and made some very, very key plays for us, obviously, and then the resolve and resiliency of the defense, even though we gave up the amount of yards rushing, we still managed to force two takeaways and offensively didn’t turn the football over, which was paramount to winning the football game.

“Again, I think this football team showed our grit, but we’re continuing to evolve. We talked about three games in 13 days. We have to turn around now with a short work week and get into Neyland [Stadium] Saturday afternoon. We have to get a lot better and make tremendous progress, but just really proud of our players.”

On DL Paul Bain:
“Well, what can you say about Paul Bain? He’s a walk on, pays his own way for school, has two jobs to make ends meet, and we put him on there, and I’ll tell you what, just coming from the locker room, he got probably the biggest cheer and respect from our players. But I just respect him so much, him as a person and what he means to our football program, and obviously he had a big hand in helping us win the football game tonight.”

On Tennessee’s seemingly attraction to chaos:
“I don’t know. I think you can go the other way. It’s all in how you tell the narrative. Maybe our program has great character and grit. These kids believe in each other, and the amount of players that kept walking by me saying, ‘we’ve got you, Coach. Coach, we’ve got you.’ Again, I think it’s how you tell the narrative. I think this is a football program that’s built on character, it’s built on grit, it’s built on belief, and we found a way to win when we didn’t play our best, but a lot of that is a tribute to Georgia Tech. I think also we play some pretty good opponents on our schedule, so I think it’s a combination of all that. But again, we have to get a lot better in a hurry. We have to be able to throw and catch out on the perimeter and catch the football, and we can’t have negative yardage plays, and then defensively we’ve got to find a way to get off the field on 3rd down.

“Again, Georgia Tech does a great job, they want to get you in 3rd and 2 and 3rd and 3 and 3rd and 1 so they can run their normal offense. Again, I just think we have a lot of grit. Probably the downside to that is it’s probably put 20 years on me, but again, I’m just proud of all of our players.”

On WR Jauan Jennings’ health, and how much of what WR Marquez Callaway did in the second half did you see in camp?
“Marquez [Callaway] has always been one of those individuals that plays with great consistency. Always has energy, always uplifting. So again, that doesn’t surprise me. We know that he plays the ball very, very well in the air, and he was able to high point the ball a couple times, and he played strong. We talk about all the time out on the perimeter, whether it’s the tight ends or the wide outs, you have to be able to catch the contested passes. And if you guys he had guys all around him and he was able to make the contested catches.

“In terms of Jauan, we’ll know a little bit more when we get back to Knoxville.”

On the quarterbacks:
“We knew our possessions were going to be minimal in this football game, and we needed consistency and we needed continuity. It’s just the ebbs and flows of the game, and when your receiving corps is down some guys and all of that, the last thing you want to do is continue to make changes. We had some offensive linemen go down and we had to put some new guys in there, and they did a remarkable job of being ready, and then the guys battling back.

“Jarrett [Guarantano] will get his opportunity, but each game is different in and of itself.

“In terms of John Kelly, what can I say about him? You know, as much as Marquez Callaway sparked us, John Kelly sparked us, as well, and he played with passion, played with energy. He played with a toughness, and again, he played with a great will to win.”

On DB Rashaan Gaulden’s forced fumble and LB Daniel Bituli’s 23 tackles?
“Rashaan has been doing it all camp. He’s had one of the best camps of anyone in our football team. This entire off-season he’s dedicated himself with Coach Gullickson with getting bigger, stronger, faster, watching his nutrition, and that was a key play. That was a pivotal play, and it gets back to complementary football. It doesn’t surprise us. We expect that from him. But there was a lot of hard work that went into him generating that turnover.

“Daniel Bituli, he’s a warrior. When you look at 20-plus tackles, what can I say about him? Our defense played, what, 90 something plays, and you look at that defensive front being cut blocked most of the time, I think that shows some toughness.”

On improving defense:
“the good thing is we don’t have to play a triple option football team, so I think that stems with first of all. We need to spend a lot of time on this video, but tackling — we had way too many missed tackles. A lot of it is they do some different things where the defensive ends have to spill the football to similar things, and some of the lead option stuff, we didn’t particularly do a very good job. So I think a lot of that may be the scheme, as well, with that. But you know, we just talk about getting better, two of their touchdowns were off of big pass plays. One was a 3rd and long. They were able to convert and then obviously score and then a big pass play down the middle, and those are just things, consistency, play in and play out that we need to get better, and our players understand that.”

On DB Nigel Warrior:

“Nigel is one of those individuals like Rashaan Gauldin who’s had a very, very productive camp for us, and he’s very, very active. He’s very physical, and again, I thought he did some good things in the back end of tackling and running to the football. There’s a lot of times when you play Georgia Tech, your backside safety has to be able to run because he’s the one guy that’s unblocked in that scheme, and so he’s got to be able to make plays for you, and he was able to do that for us tonight.”

On Georgia Tech QB TaQuon Marshall:
“First of all, he’s very talented, very quick, very, very elusive, and a very, very good football player. I think schematically they challenged him. They did a great job with some triple option stuff and trap option, getting him out on the perimeter, and he’s elusive, he’s fast, and he’s a good football player. Georgia Tech is a really good football team, and they’re going to win their share of football games this year.”

GEORGIA TECH PLAYERS

GEORGIA TECH OFFENSIVE LINEMAN #75 Parker Braun

On swallowing the loss:

“It’s hard. You jot got to learn from it, build on it, and move on. It’s not a conference game, so in light of the whole season, it’s not a big deal.”

On moving forward to the next game:

“I hope we recover as much as we can and be ready for the next one.”

GEORGIA TECH A-BACK #31 Nathan Cottrell

On tonight’s game:

“We did great. We’ve got a lot to learn. It’s going to get even better from here.”

On T. Marshall and his toughness:

“You could see by the way he played. He’s obviously got a lot of confidence. He did great. Since his freshman year, we knew he could play. Now he’s got his shot at quarterback. It’s no surprise to me at all the way he’s playing.”

On the loss:

“It’s frustrating but you have to take the positives and that was our offense. They played really well tonight. Hopefully we can turn that into some success.”

GEORGIA TECH QUARTERBACK #16 TaQuon Marshall

On his first start:

“It was exciting to get out there – especially in a big game. We just have to get out there next week.”

On getting the starting quarterback position:

“He told me during the last week of camp and I started to get familiar with the guys.

“I was very excited when he told the guys were behind me. The guys support me – they’ve got my back and I’ve got their backs. It’s exciting to lead the team and I’m looking forward to doing great things this season.”

On the two-point conversion attempt:

“We had numbers on the backside. Reversed out and tried to get outside of it. They overran us and I thought I could get up under it. We tried to make the play at the time but it might have been a little selfish of me. But, you’ve got to put it in the past and move on.”

On being in the zone in a big game atmosphere like this:

“After the first couple of draws, I calmed down. I got into a groove and KirVonte [Benson] was helping me out. Our backs made plays, our receivers made plays and then we all got into a groove. It just went on from there.”

On the short rest:

“It’s still going to be in the back of my mind that we should have won. But, I’ve got to move on from this and get ready for next week. We’ll get in the meeting room tomorrow and watch film.”

On playing well, but losing a tough fight:

“I really wish the results would have been different. I can’t change that. I’ve got to put it behind me and come back this week ready to work. I’m going to bring the guys on board with me and we are going to be ready to play on Saturday.”

GEORGIA TECH DEFENSIVE LINEMAN #51 Brant Mitchell

On the loss:

“It’s going to be a quick turnaround. It’s an SEC team, so it doesn’t really affect us. We’re going to need to move forward.”

On the emotions:

“Obviously, I’m pretty torn up, but you know what, I’ve got to keep going. The leadership is going to take over with our defense and our team. We’re going to keep going this week.”

On QB TaQuon Marshall:

“TaQuon’s a great athlete. Very elusive with what he does with the ball in his hands and when he throws it too. I’m proud of him. He played a heck of a game.”

GEORGIA TECH B-BACK #30 KirVonte Benson

On your combination with QB TaQuon Marshall:

“TaQuon and I are both good runners and both explosive when we have the ball. This season is going to be amazing and something to look forward to.”

On T. Marshall:

“I’ve got a lot of praise for him. TaQuon makes plays with the ball in his hands. No matter if it’s a broken play or the play is designed.”

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