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Meet the Press: @GTPaulJohnson Previews #ALCNvsGT

Aug. 31, 2015

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson met with members of the local media on Monday to preview the Yellow Jackets’ season-opener against Alcorn State. Thursday’s game at Bobby Dodd Stadium will kick at 7:34 p.m. ET on RSN.

Full press conference audio

Opening Statement
“We are excited to finally be in the game week and have a chance to start to play somebody in a different colored uniform.  I know that we had a pretty spirited practice yesterday coming back off of a couple days off.  We will take the next two days and polish up.  We are looking forward to Thursday night.”

On the challenges in playing an opponent you have never played
“Well, they [Alcorn State] have got a pretty good nucleus of players returning.  I think they have eight on offense coming back and the Gibbs kid [John Gibbs, Jr.] at quarterback is really a good player.  He’s very athletic.  I think [Damon] Watkins at linebacker was either the leading tackler or second-leading tackler a year ago.  So a lot of the guys you can watch on tape.  It’s more about the scheme sometimes than the individual players.  Although, those two guys certainly stick out.” 

On if playing on Thursday night will help the team’s energy level
“You never know.  But, you would like to think that you only to get play a few times a year, you would be amped up when you get to play, especially at home.  It’s been a long time since we have had a game.  The night games here in Bobby Dodd are usually a lot of fun.  So hopefully we will have a good crowd and it will be kind of an electric atmosphere.  It’s as much about us as it is about who you are playing.”

On expectations for Patrick Skov and from the rest of the backfield this season
“Well, I hope he has as good as year as Synjyn Days.  Synjyn was pretty good.  I think that we are looking.  We are probably going to play three guys back there.  I think Patrick will probably start.  We are going to play Marcus Allen and the other Marcus [Marcus Marshall], Marcus squared.  If you yell for `Marcus’ you are going to get one of them.  But, I think we will have a better idea after we play a couple games how that rotation unfolds and where it sits.  But, certainly Marcus Marshall is going to get in the game as well as Marcus Allen.”

On the number of true freshman listed on the depth chart
“Yeah, a lot of those guys won’t play. There will be some that play, but there are a lot on that list that won’t play.  I think, that as a whole, the freshman class was really good.  We are excited about them.  There will be several guys who will play a lot out of that class.  But, we were pleased with that overall group.  I think there are some good players in there.”

On telling the freshman players to stay calm during their first game
“No, not really.  I want them excited.  As we get closer to the game, we will assess that.  If they are running around and cannot remember their names, we will kind of have to do something.  But, I fully expect that we are not going to be perfect on Thursday night.  Although, that is the goal.  But I’m not naïve enough to think that it is going to happen.   We are going to play some freshmen and they are going to make some mistakes.  You just hope that they do not make enough of them to really cost you and that they learn from it.   The important thing is that we go out there on Thursday and start to develop our identity as a team.  And when we make a mistake, we do not make the same one over and over again; we learn from it.”

On the overall chemistry and attitude of this year’s team
“It’s been good; we have not lost a game yet.  There have not been really any negative things happen or a lot adversity or controversy.  About the biggest adversity is maybe me yelling at them.  But, you will find that out as the season goes along and you get more into it.  As a general rule, I have said before, I think we have got good kids.  I think they genuinely like each other to begin with.  They are pretty accountable.  If they were not, they would not last here and they would not make it long.  Overall, it’s a good group.  Now when the adversity strikes during a game, who is going to step up and be the leaders?  We will see.  That’s when you find out.”

On how Justin Thomas’s toughness and attitude have rubbed off on the other players
“I think the biggest thing for him [Thomas] is they respect his ability and his competiveness.  He’s not a big talker as you guys know.  He does not always have a lot to say.  He just kind of goes about his business and I think they respect him for that.  And they also respect and know that he’s a tough kid.  So they like playing for him.  It certainly helps when they want to play for you.”

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