Sept. 9, 2017
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Johnson
“First of all, I’m relieved that it’s over. I think I’ve said my piece on that, but that’s really tough on guys to come back and play. I thought that the defense did a great job starting on the next to last series there in the first half when Lawrence Austin got the pick. If I’m not mistaken, it was two- or three-straight possessions where we got turnovers and short field. We were able to hit a couple plays on third down down there in spite of ourselves. Offensively, it was not pretty. We were able to make some plays, but the execution was not very good. We got our butts whipped up front. Guys may have been reading their press clippings a little bit. It’ll be a down-to-earth day on Monday when they watch the tape.”
On the defense getting pressure to set the tone:
“Absolutely. We talked about being more aggressive, and we did a good job of that. I thought they had a good plan with a lot more stunts and a lot more blitzes. We got some negative plays, which makes it easier to play. We made plays. When they threw the ball and we had a chance to get turnovers, we did. The first series we should have gotten a turnover. The ball just laid there, and I think our guys thought it was a pass. You’ve got to get on it no matter what it is. They’ll be some learning.”
On the offensive line being fatigued today:
“It looked like we were playing in sand. A couple guys just didn’t look like they were playing very fast. It is what it is. Like I said, we win the game and thank goodness the defense showed up and played big.”
On the interception before halftime that changed momentum:
“It was a big play. The first half was kind of a microcosm of some of early last year where there might have been four or five possessions. They had a long drive, but nobody could finish them. Well, they finished the one drive for a touchdown. I think that was about an eight- or nine-minute drive, if I’m not mistaken. It had to be close to that. Offensively, we were not converting on third downs like we need to in order to stay out there. The first couple of series were just ridiculous. We’ve got a guy that goes the wrong way in pitch motion, penalties with a holding penalty on a big play that got brought back. It was whatever we could do to shoot ourselves in the foot.”
On what made the passing game so successful:
“It was because they were selling out to play the run. Ricky Jeune made a couple nice plays. I think every pass we completed but one was play-action.”
On whether fumbling three times is a concern:
“It’s always a concern anytime the ball is out. I’m trying to remember where they were. We had three fumbles? Yeah, that’s a concern.”
On whether we can expect to see the offense throw more often:
On the special teams’ play and Shawn Davis’ performance:
“Shawn has made almost every kick in practice, and he did in fall camp. We went back and competed again all week with the kicking thing. He just won the job because he makes the kicks. I was happy for him to get the first one, and then he made another field goal where they ran into him. It’s disappointing that we missed an extra point, but I thought he did better on kickoffs. We did much better on covering kickoffs. Our return game is still a work in progress with both punt return and kickoff return.”
On Jerry Howard and other true freshmen that stood out today:
“Quite honestly, early on we were tip-toeing in there at b-back and not running through. I grabbed Jerry, and if there’s one thing he’ll do it’s run through. I’m not sure that we blocked the down guy. The guy went from a two to a three, and five went up the field. They were all running to play the quarterback and the pitch. He was on them before they could do anything. That’s the nature of the offense. You can’t look to go sideways.”
On whether the team improved from game one to game two:
“We were a lot better on defense. They’re pretty good. Nobody wants to believe that, but they’re really good. I said before we started, I’m not sure they weren’t the best defense that we were going to play coming out of the gate. After watching them, I’m pretty sure they are. They can run. They’ve got two lock-down corners that are pretty good. They make plays. There’s a reason they were third or fourth in the country in total defense, and they play to their defense. There’s 56 plays and 52 plays. If you notice, they run no-huddle, but they ran that thing down under three seconds every time. Then, that compounds it. They’re really good on third downs because they’ve got good cover guys. They play good football. We had a hard time blocking their linebackers.”
On whether he has admiration for teams like Jacksonville State:
“Yeah. I knew they had good players. They’re going to play really hard when they come in and you get a chance to play. I was talking to one of their coaches before the game. He said they don’t have a game next year because they can’t find anyone that will play them. You can see why. It’s like there’s nothing to gain and everything to lose. They’ve got a good team. I don’t suspect a lot of people in the OVC will beat them.”
JACKSONVILLE STATE COACH JOHN GRASS
“I was proud of our guys’ effort today. We played a good football team. It shows you how important [securing] the ball is; it’s humongous. Monday night, they had 535 yards rushing against an SEC defense. They turn it over twice, and it gets them beat. You can’t turn it over three times in four possessions and expect to win a game, especially when it’s a team the caliber of Georgia Tech. I take my hat off to them. They made the plays. We’ve got to line up and stop the explosive plays, move the chains and not turn the ball over.
“I thought our effort was great. Our physicality was great. You worry about getting into a game like this and adjusting to the pad level, and I thought we did a good job of that off the jump and played really well. Outside of the fullback pop and a few pass plays, we played much better defensively. They snapped it 56 times for 322 yards. They snapped it 95, 96 timers Monday night for 650 yards of offense, so we’ve got to be proud of the way our defense played.
“Offensively, at times, I thought we played really well. Bryant (Horn) will correct those things, he made two bad reads and laid the ball down one time, and that’s so uncharacteristic of him to do that. He’ll get better from that, it’s a learning experience. He’s young in the starting positions, and he’ll get better as we go.”
“Like I said, we were in there for a while, and we turn it over twice to start the second half, then you’re kind of out of it.”
What do you take away from this game?
“We want to be a physical team, and I thought we played physical today. You don’t hold them to that, rushing the football 210 yards, and not have good effort. I thought we got the ball on the ground really good, so we did some good things. We did some good things kicking-game-wise; besides the last punt, we punted the ball pretty good, our coverage was good on punts.
“Offensively, we lined up and ran the football. We ran it for 116 yards, so you’ve got to be proud of that. That’s an ACC defense. We’re not supposed to be able to line up against that and do those things. So we just put it behind you and move on to the next day and look to get better.”
You controlled the line of scrimmage in the first two quarters. Did they make an adjustment at halftime?
“I think they got used to our `stem’ stuff a little bit. But defensively, I think they had 80 at halftime. You take out that pop (Howard 65-yard TD), I thought as far as getting the ball on the ground and playing assignment football, I don’t think we could have played much better.
“Offensively we were able to run the football. I was excited about the way our up-front guys played, decision-making and all those things from Horn. Outside of [the Howard run] I thought we played good up front.”
On the short passes, do you think [Horn] pressed a little bit?
“He did. They baited him into a couple throws, both of those [interceptions]. He’s got to see that guy. They made good plays on the football. It’s growing. That’s learning. Sometimes you learn more from your mistakes then you do when good things happen to you. So he’ll learn from that. He’s a real smart player, and he won’t make those type mistakes again.”
GEORGIA TECH PLAYERS
Lawrence Austin, DB, SR.
On the interception and how the play changed the mood of the team:
“I saw a sprint out, and when we see that, we run our play. The defensive line got great pressure, which made it easy for me. He threw it right to me. The play got momentum on our side. We took a shot right after that where TaQuon [Marshall] made a good throw and Ricky Jeune made a great catch. Momentum going into the half was what we needed.”
On the importance of turnovers that the defense created:
“Turnovers are always big. It is great when we get the ball in the offense’s hands so they can eat up clock and score. That is one thing we could not accomplish the first game [Double-OT loss to Tennessee] that we got better with today.”
PARKER BRAUN, LG, SO.
On fatigue from playing 97 offensive plays on Monday night:
“I definitely felt the effects of it. It is always hard to play Monday and then turn around and play on Saturday, especially when it is a game like it was last week (joking about it actually being this week). Me and our center [Kenny Cooper] played all 97 snaps Monday, but we just played through it today.”
On how big the win was today:
“It was really important. [Coach] Johnson has been saying all week that good teams do not lose twice in a row. We needed this to start the rest of the year off right and to see what we need to correct.”
TAQUON MARSHALL, QB, JR.
On playing today after a short week of rest:
“I felt that we started slower than we would like to. We should have come out faster, and the tempo of the game would have changed on our half. We picked it up and got things rolling.”
On how it felt to be able to stand in the pocket and throw the ball more:
“It felt great. After the first game I wanted to sit in the pocket and show my arm ability. Ricky [Jeune] and the other guys made great plays and the line blocked for me, so I had a lot of time to get the ball out of my hands.”
On Jacksonville State’s ability to slow down the run:
“They were flying to the ball defensively. I think they had our number in the first half on third down. They were being real disruptive and all of the guys were flying to the ball.”
Ricky Jeune, WR, SR.
On being able to take advantage of his chances today:
“Jacksonville State – they were in press coverage the whole game. We knew their cornerbacks were pretty aggressive. We had to match their aggressiveness. And, on the first one, I beat the guy deep and then, on the second one, I just dropped the guy – dropped him off – and just made a play. TaQuon [Marshall] made a great pass and I just finished it.”
On if his plays were straight route calls or sight adjustments:
“They were straight route calls. The first one was supposed to be a comeback but whenever there’s press coverage, we just take it deep. On the second route, it was a route call, too. I just go and then drop him off and do a comeback, also.”
ANREE SAINT-ARMOUR, DE, JR.
On what was working for the defensive line:
“What was working for the defensive line, I feel like it was more of a team-defense-type-of thing. On one of the sacks, there was great pressure up the middle that kind-of just popped out to me. And, on the other one, (a teammate) did a great job wrapping around and then, play of the game, then it fell into my hands again. So, it was a great job, the whole defense – as a whole doing their jobs and – just executing off of that.”
On how big the turnovers were:
“Those were great. There was just a lot of energy added to the team. You make those types of big plays before the half and coming out of the half and you give the ball back to your offense, the whole team, the crowd – everybody – is hyped up for that. Playing with energy is this great thing because everybody goes out and plays 100 percent. Those turnovers were crucial – crucial – to the game.”