Oct. 19, 2015
Georgia Tech head football coach Paul Johnson met with the media on Monday morning to discuss the Yellow Jackets’ upcoming Homecoming game against No. 9 Florida State on Saturday. Kickoff at Bobby Dodd Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
“Well, clearly we were disappointed with the outcome on Saturday. We just have to find a way to make a few more plays. The effort was good. I thought our guys played hard. It’s like any football game, you can probably take 15, 20 plays, and turn them different and the outcome would have been different. But, that’s not the case. We are sitting here, I think the last five teams we’ve played are 27-4. And we got another one coming in that’s Top 10 and 6-0, so that makes the last six games 33-4. So we are playing good teams and the games are close. We’ve just got to find a way to break through and win one. So maybe it’s this week.”
On what he has seen from Ricky Jeune the last couple of weeks
“I think he’s made some plays in different games. We’ve also had an opportunity at the end of a couple of games to make plays and we haven’t made them. But, all in all, I think he’s played fairly well and gave us a lift at times.”
On the differences with the passing games this year compared to last year
“I think, probably, it’s always a combination of things. Protection has been awful. Some of the percentage is down where he [Justin Thomas] has to throw the ball away sometimes just to avoid sacks and stay out of it. I would have to look at the numbers. I think yards per game is probably right on or pretty close to where we were a year ago. We’re probably not scoring as many points as we did a year ago. I would have to look, although it is probably close. I think we are second in the conference in scoring offense. We just have not gotten enough.
It’s like I said, there’s a really fine line between winning and losing. We win at Duke, which we had every opportunity to win and we didn’t. And you have to give Duke credit. They are 5-1 and a lot of people haven’t beaten them. I think anybody who saw the North Carolina game knows we had a chance to win that game, but we didn’t. And you have to give them credit. They made plays and we didn’t. We couldn’t get it in on the goal line and couldn’t get a stop. And same with last game. You win those three games, you are 5-2 and its deja vu.
Two years ago, we would have scored on the goal line or we would have picked it off when they threw it to us on the goal line. The guy wouldn’t have made a 56-yard field goal. We would have gotten the ball at midfield and probably went down and won the game. That’s how the fine the line is. Now there are 10 to 15 plays. And when you are playing good teams, I would venture to guess nobody else in the country had played five teams in a row that are 27-4 and six teams that have been 33-4. We knew it was going to be a tough schedule and we haven’t won any of the close games. I would venture to say every game, except the Clemson game, we have been right in the game in the fourth quarter. We just have to find a way to win one. We haven’t found a way to win a game or make plays when we have to.”
On Mikell Lands-Davis’ progress this season
“Yeah, he’s getting better. You know, we were playing against the No. 6 defense in the country, coming in. And we were playing with five freshmen. And those kids played pretty good. Did they do everything right? No, but they played pretty good. And we averaged almost nine yard a play.”
On if not making the game-winning plays has to do with a lack of experience
“I think probably experience certainly factors in. I think, truthfully, if you look at season, it’s like I said after the game, I don’t know if there’s a huge difference between last year and this year. With the exception of the offense is not quite as good. I mean, we weren’t stopping people last year either. We were getting turnovers. You know, we were getting some of those. And offensively we were this much better and we could score more. And how many times at the end of a game did we make plays to win? I mean, I can go all the way back to the Georgia Southern game, the Virginia Tech game, all of those games early where guys made plays. You know, I mean, we’d take the ball down and score.
And it’s been both sides. We had a chance against Duke where we get a play to go score. And we can’t make three yards in three plays. You know, we’ve had a chance to hold the other team. This was the first time I think the other team hadn’t scored right before halftime. Our average starting field position on Saturday was the 17-yard line. Our own 17. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a game like that. They [Pittsburgh] ran 67 plays, 68 plays. They didn’t have one minus yardage play out of 68 plays. Not one. I have never been in a game like that. We are not making any plays.”
On Justin Thomas’ performance against Pitt
“Yeah, we had a couple of critical turnovers that killed us, but he played really well. He did. He played well and made some really good reads and did some good things. It looked like our offense. You know, I said after the Clemson game I didn’t recognize what I had seen. Last week I could recognize it. I mean it looked like us. I thought Marcus Marshall gave us a big lift too. He’s another guy that can give you a big play. Now there’s things he’s got to do a lot better, but at least when you get the ball in his hands you’ve got a chance for a big play. And that gives us another guy with that.”
On the improvements Marcus Marshall can make at B-back
“Blocking. Yeah, blocking. Pass protection. It’s him being a freshman. It’s a physical, fast game. He’s 18 years old. They are a little faster and bigger then they were in high school. And he probably didn’t have to block in high school. He was just back there getting the ball and pass protection wise, those kind of things. It’s not stuff he can’t do. He’s just got to experience it and do it. You know, it’s really his second game of playing a lot too. It’s like Will Bryan. He started and played every snap as a freshmen. He did a lot of really good things. He’s going to get better the more he plays. The more those guys play, the better they are going to be.”
With the record as it is, do you feel like things are as bad as people think?
“You know, I don’t think we are a bad football team. I don’t think we are a great football team, but a bounce here or there, all I’m telling you is we’ve played some pretty good teams. And you don’t have to take my assessment, take the record. They are 27-4, the five teams we’ve played. So, a lot of people have struggled with the teams we just played. And the next one coming in is 6-0. I would venture to guess that it’s been a long time since anybody played three Top 10 teams in the six games in a row. And the other two were in the Top 25. That’s a pretty good stretch. And it’s a really good stretch when you’ve got the injuries we’ve got, and the freshmen we are playing and the struggles. So, are we playing as well as we’d like to? No. I’m not saying that’s an excuse. We want to win the games. I’m just saying it is what it is. You could have a different schedule and be 5-2 and not be near as good of football team as you are at 2-5. And nobody would know.”