VIDEO: Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference (Game 8 - VT)

Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference - Oct. 22, 2018

Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference (Game 8 – at Virginia Tech, Oct. 25)

Opening Statement:

“I think the biggest thing during the bye week was just trying to get healthy. We got a jumpstart on Virginia Tech but I think we had four pretty good practices and we’ll go back today [Monday] and have an abbreviated – it won’t be like a regular Tuesday [or] Wednesday practice, it’ll probably be somewhere in-between that and a Thursday. And then go out tomorrow [Tuesday] for a Thursday practice and go up Wednesday and get ready to play the game. We’re still somewhat beat up, not as healthy as I’d like. We’ve got a couple guys who would probably be questionable, but we’ll see by Thursday how it plays out.”

On whether there’s a different approach to bye weeks when coming off a loss as opposed to a win:

“No, not really. We took two days off because of the Thursday game and that’s usually what we try to do. I think you need a break mentally as well as physically when you get this far in. They’ve been going pretty good every day since August. It’s pretty much a seven-day-a-week deal. If you’re not practicing, you’re lifting. You know, they get a mandatory day off, but that’s usually a Sunday after the game when you have a hard time getting out of the bed if you played. And they get worn down mentally here too.”

On comparing Virginia Tech QBs Ryan Willis and Josh Jackson (Willis replaced Jackson as starter after Jackson sustained a leg injury earlier this season):

“The first thought would be: you wouldn’t think that [Willis] would be as good a runner [as Jackson], but when he’s had to run the ball, he’s done really well. He’s thrown for over 300 yards in both games he started, passing. I think that he’s a pretty good athlete and he’s an experienced guy, having played at Kansas. It’s not like putting somebody in who hasn’t played much. He’s got a pretty good idea of what they want to do and he gets them out of bad plays. He’s played pretty good.”

On comparing Virginia Tech to years past:

“They’re not as experienced as they’ve been in the past, probably. They’ve got a lot of young guys, but they’ve got some really good athletes and they run well. Where they’ve struggled the most is on the back end against passing teams. Their run defense is still pretty good. It’s like any team with young guys, they’ll play really good for three or four series and then they’ll give up a big play. But they’re talented and they’re athletic and they’re getting better. They’ve got [DT Ricky Walker], who’s as good as anyone in our league. He’s played for a long time and he’s really a good defensive lineman. I’ve been impressed with the “MIKE” linebacker, [Rayshard] Ashby. I think he’s a good player, he’s always around the ball. They’ve got a lot of good, young players.”

On whether noise is a factor in play-calling/communication when playing at Virginia Tech:

“Calling plays isn’t a problem when you’re in the huddle. It can affect you if you’re trying to do a lot of checking and sometimes with the count. Really, the only guys that really have to hear are the five offensive linemen and everybody else can look at the ball. Maybe the B-back, but you’re tight enough close. It’s loud. You’d have a hell of a time if you wanted to try and call plays from the line, but it’s something we work on. We know what it’s going to be.”

On goals for second half of the season:

“I want to beat Virginia Tech, that’s my goal. We’ll pull ourselves back even and then worry about going to play North Carolina. What I want to accomplish is to go up there and not lay the ball on the ground in three-consecutive plays and not beat ourself and give yourself a chance to win. I think when we’ve done that, we’ve been pretty competitive and can be a pretty good team. There’s a small margin of error. When you go and have penalties and lay the ball on the ground and those types of things, it makes it really, really hard to win.”

On if Georgia Tech’s fumbling issue is getting better in practice:

“I was telling somebody today, one of the biggest misnomers, another myth that I guess if you say it enough, it becomes true: it’s the offense, you’re going to fumble. I look at those three fumbles that we lost [versus Duke], none of them had anything to do with the option offense. They weren’t on the mesh, they weren’t on the pitch. They were ball security issues. The first one, the offensive lineman knocked it out from the side. And if you really slow it down and look at it, it was really kind of a fluke. Some of those are going to happen. Now, you’ve got to have the ball high and tight, we’ve preached that all the time, we’ve got to do a better job teaching it. The second one was poor ball security. We did not have the ball secured and that comes back to coaching. And then the third one was a really young guy, who’s trying to make something happen, made about five guys miss and then their guy made a really good play. Punched the ball. But it was on the kickoff return.

We work on ball security every single day. Having said that, we’ve got to do a better job coaching it. If it’s a problem, you’ve got to do a better job coaching it.”

On whether it’s harder to play at Virginia Tech on weekdays than Saturdays:

“I don’t know. Usually when it’s on [a weekday], it’s really loud there … I remember one of the night games up there was with Tev[in Washington] and we scored late. We were beating the slop out of them and Josh [Nesbitt] broke his arm. Then they got ahead and then we scored right at the end to tie it up and they return the kickoff. Those are the ones that I remember. I remember the first time they beat us up there, my first time in ’08, we end up tied for the Coastal Division and we got hosed. We’d stopped them down on their end and they called us for a late hit out of bounds. Those I remember. The others? I couldn’t tell you.”

On the Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech rivalry:

I think [the fact that the teams have combined to win 10-of-13 Coastal Division championships] is what makes it a rivalry. I’ve been here 11 years. Eight of the 11 years, the team that’s won the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game has won the Coastal Division. Again, I just kind of deal with facts, I don’t go off the revisionist stuff. They’ve won it five times, we’ve won it three times and three other teams have won it once. That’s the facts and that’s probably why it’s been a rivalry.”

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