Aug. 7, 2010
By Jon Cooper
Kickoff for the 2010 Georgia Tech football season may still be a month away — actually 28 days — but head coach Paul Johnson appeared to be in mid-season form when he met with the media at the Edge Center Saturday afternoon, prior to meeting the fans at Yellow Jacket Fan Day.
Whether it was talk of the offensive line, the defensive line, or the line on where experts predicted his team to finish, the two-time defending ACC Coach of the Year answered questions, sprinkling realism, optimism, and “Johnsonism” — his brand of desert-dry one-liners issued in his unique deadpan delivery — over the room.
For example, Johnson addressed the issue of the team’s new defense and how it planned to stop the rash of big plays that haunted the team last season.
“We struggled at times in the spring. [The scheme] was new. But we haven’t given one up all year,” he said.
“You have to wait and see,” he added. “I think everybody’s excited to see how it’s going to be. I know our players are excited. They’re anxious to learn more and more and ready to fly around and see if we can play better on defense. I think we can. It won’t be hard.”
An issue that Johnson was happier to harp on was the roster’s depth.
“We’ve got pretty good competition at every position. That usually makes you better,” he said.
That should be especially true on the offensive line.
“If you ask me who’s going to be the starting anything, I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “[Center] Sean Bedford (Tech’s only Preseason All-American) is going to have his hands full every day to keep his job. We’ve got probably four guards that could start. There are at least three tackles, maybe four that could start, so we’ll see.”
Then the zinger.
“Either we’ve got depth or we don’t have anybody who’s any good. We’ll see.”
He took a similar wait-and-see approach to less-than-spectacular pre-season prognostications.
“The good thing is we get to play the games, so we get to determine [where we finish],” he said. “They don’t. All you ask for is a chance to play the games. If you get beat, you get beat.”
“I would say the expectations of the team are higher than just an ACC Championship, settling for second or just getting to a bowl game,” said Nesbitt, who also backed up Johnson’s assertion that 2010 should be his best season. “I have prepared for this to be my best year. I feel like I am in the best shape in my life both physically and mentally. I think after my surgery, I knew where I had to get to and what I had to do and I was willing to sacrifice a lot to get there.”
Groh chose the high road as opposed to the long one regarding defensive improvement.
“I would rather think of them in terms of challenges instead of obstacles. Obstacles are things that can’t be overcome,” he said. “We are just involved in a process right now. We are just trying to plow through everyday. The process is simply — we meet, we install, we go practice, we meet again and correct, we go to bed, we come back, and we do the same thing. We are in a routine and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. We just keep grinding our way forward and make the process as positive and as progressive as we can.”
Other players including Brad Jefferson, Anthony Allen, Roddy Jones, Mario Butler, Ben Anderson, and freshmen Isaiah Johnson (who drew high praise from Johnson and Groh) also met shortly with the media, then everyone worked their way inside Bobby Dodd Stadium, where the team and volleyball team greeted a large and enthusiastic group of fans, signing autographs and talking the upcoming season.
With lines of fans extending up all streets surrounding Bobby Dodd, it was evident that the coaches and players weren’t the only ones excited about the upcoming season.