VIDEO: Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference (Game 9 - UNC)

Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference - Oct. 30, 2018

Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference (Game 9 – at North Carolina, Nov. 3)

Opening Statement:

Looking forward to going up to Chapel Hill to play. It’s an important game for us, as I’m sure it is for them as well. The last time we were up there, we struggled and didn’t particularly play well. They got after us. So this is a chance to go back and maybe have a chance to redeem ourselves. They’re a much better team than their record would indicate when you watch them play. I think they’re very talented in the offensive skill positions – receiver and running back. Defensively, for the most part, for most of the games, they’ve kind of hung in there and kept them in the game. They’re starting to get all their players back from suspensions, so I don’t think they’ll have anybody – maybe one guy – out this week. I’m sure it will be a tough game.

On Georgia Tech’s slow starts on defense:

“They just haven’t played very well [to start the last two games]. The first series at Virginia Tech, the running play, we missed about three, four tackles. Then the quick slant, we missed a couple more tackles and a guy knocked another guy off. Bottom line is, we just didn’t play very well.”

On the transition to defensive coordinator Nate Woody’s defense at this point in the season:

“I think it’s still a process. There’s still a lot of young guys. I think it took a few games to kind of settle in on who was playing. At times, they’re better than at others, just like on offense. There’s games where we’ve played better than some other games. I think that overall, what we’re doing is sound, and I think it’s repetition. The more they do it, the better they’ll get at it.”

On whether QB Tobias Oliver’s performance vs. Virginia Tech changes Georgia Tech’s gameplan going forward:

“It doesn’t change the gameplan. Tobias has played well whenever he’s gone in. I think he’s played in every game and he’ll play Saturday at some point. We don’t really change a whole lot of what we do depending on who’s at quarterback.”

On whether there’s belief that the team will become more consistent:

“It’s why you play the games. If you go back and look, it’s not hard. When we don’t turn the ball over and don’t have penalties, we’re usually pretty successful. I was talking last night to Coach [Jeff] Monken at Army and he was reflecting on his team. Even when they weren’t very good, he said, ‘I don’t think we lost a game where we didn’t turn the ball over.’ And you can look at all kinds of stats but that’s as good as it gets. Probably the biggest one, if I had to guess, going back, this is my 11th season [but] if you went back and looked – and I don’t know the answer to it – we probably haven’t lost too many when we haven’t turned the ball over either.”

On whether the offense will change with two QBs (TaQuon Marshall and Oliver) that have logged meaningful minutes:

“We’ll just go play the game and see. I don’t know that anything has changed. It’s like I just said, they’ve both played in every game when they were available to play. We’ll just play the game and see what happens.”

On what contributed to the lack of consistency and how the team works back from that:

“We just got off to such a horrible start. When you start off 1-3, you’ve got a big hole to dig yourself out of. It was frustrating because we let the second game, on the road against South Florida, get away from us. Anytime you let a team return two kicks for a touchdown – and I shouldn’t say we let them, give them some credit, they returned them – then we fought back to get ahead 10 points in the fourth quarter and we can’t finish for a myriad of reasons.

“We go up to Pittsburgh and lay an egg for a half. We didn’t play very good on defense in the first half either, really. But offensively, we were horrendous and you dig yourself a hole because you’re looking at 1-3. The last four games, you break the schedule down – I always break the schedule down kind of into thirds – the second third, we’ve been OK. We’re 3-1. We got bad Georgia Tech against Duke, where we turned the ball over on three-straight plays. I liked where we were in that game, although we weren’t playing well, I felt like we had the momentum and were driving down the field and then all of a sudden, boom! – it got away from us. Certainly the last four games are going to be tough games. They’re against good opponents. But I’ve said all along: outside of Clemson, everybody in our league is close.”

On whether there’s concern that North Carolina could be a “trap game:”

“You’ve got to motivate yourself. We’ve got a lot to play for. We’re still alive in the conference, we’re trying to get bowl eligible, there’s a ton to play for. And if you’re competitive, you just get another chance to play.”

On North Carolina quarterback Nathan Elliott:

“I think he’s really accurate, especially on short- and medium-range throws. Clearly he understands their system – he’s been in it a while. When you don’t get pressure on him and he gets the ball out, he can be very effective. He’s probably not the kind of runner they’ve had in the past, but they know that too. He’s been very effective at times.”

On the similarities and differences between Marshall and Oliver:

“They’re similar and there’s some things the other can do a little better than the other … Tobias is still a redshirt freshman. We forget he was third-string going into the season when Luke [Lucas Johnson] got hurt. To his credit, [Tobias] has gotten so much better from fall camp to right now, it’s not even close. But even just from an experience factor, identifying defenses, checks, coverages, all that kind of thing – the guy that has played the most is going to be more experienced. What Tobias can bring to the table is he’s gotten much better at that and he’s also really tough and he’s slippery and elusive and hard to tackle. And he can get north and south. So he’s got a lot of things going for him too.

It’s like I said, it’s not denigrating one over the other. They both can do some things that are positive. If you asked us before the season started, who’s your three or four most talented guys on the team, I don’t think anyone would’ve left TaQuon out, right? And Tobias has pushed himself up to the point where he’s playing really well too. It’s a good problem to have. You’ve got two really good players.”

On North Carolina’s defense:

“They’re experienced up front when they have all their guys. I think they’ve got a lot of good athletes who can run. They’ve had a lot of success putting pressure on the quarterbacks when you throw the ball. We’ve had a hard time getting on their linebackers in the last couple of years we’ve played. They’ve kept them pretty clean. Other than that, it’s pretty much let’s go play the game. I don’t think anybody is going to surprise anybody. The team that can execute the best and take care of the ball is probably going to win.”

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