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#MeetThePress: @GTPaulJohnson Previews #GTvsUVA

Oct. 26, 2015

Georgia Tech head football coach  met with the media on Monday morning to discuss the Yellow Jackets’ upcoming road game at Virginia on Saturday. Kickoff at David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on RSN.

Audio of Coach Johnson’s Press Conference 

Opening Statement

“Well, I was proud of our team for the effort on Saturday.  Like I said after the game, I felt like it was our turn to kind of catch a break.  So we finally got one instead of them working the other way.  Now hopefully we can take that and try to get some momentum and build on it.  We’ve still got a deep hole to dig out of, but we’re in better shape then we were a week ago.  So, we’ve got to go up to Charlottesville, which has been historically a very tough place for us to play.  Last time we were there we won, but it was a close game.  It was 28-25 with three minutes to go and we had to try to run out the clock.  And fortunately we hit a pass and then scored to put the game away.  But it was back and forth.  The same thing here a year ago, we struggled to run the ball against them.  We hit some big plays in the passing game and played pretty good defense a year ago.  Try to get a good plan and go up there and get ready to play.”

On how many times he watched the replay and if his wife called him out for his expression after the game
“Not really.  I think I saw the replay Saturday night when we got home.  I was watching the Stanford/Washington game so they played it on ESPN a few times.  She didn’t mention it.  My daughter gave me a hard time.  You know, she’s into all the social media so she sent me a Vine or whatever it is.  But, that was it.

I think really I was responding.  When they caught me, I wasn’t responding to the game, I was responding to what one of the fans said to me.”

What did he or she say?
“It was some girl, I don’t know who she was.  She goes, “Hey I love you Coach!”  And I was just like, “Yeah.”  If that field goal had went through, I doubt she would have loved me much.”

On the team’s defensive progress
“We played way better against the run.  Way better.  And it helped that they only had three possessions in the second half and four in the first half.  So we kind of played together as a team.  We kept them off the field.  They got down in the red zone, but when we got down there we held and held after a couple of turnovers, or held after the one.  So, we played better.  Like I say, when you play the run better, you give yourself a chance.  And the red zone defense was a hundred times better than it’s been.”

On Virginia’s youth at linebacker
“Well, they do have some young guys, but they’ve got a lot of guys who’ve played.  The Mike linebacker played against us here last year, 51 has played, he’s been a starter or played a bunch.  We were looking this morning, both down guys, the two tackles and the Moore kid, they’ve all played for a couple years.  I think the Blanding kid was a five-star recruit, Brown was a five-star recruit, Mizzell was a five star.  I mean they’ve got a bunch of guys who are pretty talented.  They’ve played a pretty good schedule as well and have been in most of the games.  They are a better team than people think.”

On Tech’s run defense against Florida State
“They just stopped the run better.  We rallied to the ball better and overlapped some and guys made some plays.  We still missed some tackles, but we had other guys there and made some plays.  That running back [Dalvin Cook] is a really good player.  For the most part, we kind of kept him contained.  He didn’t rip of the 70, 80 yarders that he’s used to doing.”

On the string of injuries
“We found out right before kickoff that [Patrick] Skov wasn’t playing.  It’s just one of those things.  But guys stepped up and they just kept playing.  You know our guys have been pretty good about that and I think it’s because we haven’t complained.  You know, I try not to dwell on it.  If somebody asks me, I say all the time, ‘You’ve got guys hurt, nobody cares.’  And it’s an opportunity for somebody else to come in and play.  And I thought the guys did a pretty good job of just playing.  They didn’t worry about it, whoever went in just played.”

On Clinton Lynch’s performance
Yeah, I thought that he made some plays.  We’ve got to block way, way better at that position.  It wasn’t very good on Saturday.  But, those guys made a play or two when we needed them, especially on some of the toss plays that got some key first downs.  I thought Isiah ‘Ike’ Willis played better, you know, he played one of his better games.  But overall, we didn’t block very well at that position.” 

On the difficulty of managing highs and lows of the team coming off a historic win
“I would hope not, we’re 3-5.  We’ve still got a big, big hole to dig out of.  We’ve got to get ready to go play.  This is next game and then we’ve got a bye week.  So if we can pull ourselves back up to one game; the goal of the team right now is try to get to a bowl game.  So we’ve got to win four.  We’ve got to get the number four here before the bye week and just keep, keep pushing.”

On Marcus Marshall’s production at B-back
“Yeah, Marcus is a work-in-progress.  He’s a talented young man that’s got really good feet.  And he’s getting tougher every game, I hope, because when he doesn’t have the ball he’s got a mile to go.”

On injuries at wide receiver
“Well, I hope.  We’ll see.  I mean, you get guys ready.  We went into Saturday night with three.  We played with three receivers most of the games.  One of them has gone down during the game and the other two have had to play, but hopefully we’ll have all three this week.  We’ll see.  If not, it’s like I said, ‘Next man up.’  Somebody’s got to go play.”

On team’s resiliency and toughness and if any freshmen have caught his attention
“Well, like I said to start with, I was really proud of them.  They extended a lot of effort and played really hard and we created some plays.  I think as a freshman, Brant Mitchell has played really well at linebacker.  I think he’s getting better every game.  I think he’s got a chance to be a really, really good player.  It’s hard to single out freshmen.  Marcus Marshall has been productive.  He needs to keep improving and so does Brant, but those two guys are probably the guys that stick out.  Will Bryan started the last two games at tackle and if he can cut down on his missed assignments, he does some good things.  There are several of them playing in key roles.  A.J. Gray has played a lot.  I mean there’s a bunch of them who have played a lot.  Mikell Lands-Davis at A-back, TaQuon [Marshall], there’s a lot of those guys who’ve played a bunch.

On if he’ll consider moving Lynn Griffin back to defense
“He’s still trying to learn.  I think Lynn is where he belongs.  He should have been there all along and it’s just taken him a little time to learn.  And when you go no huddle, it compounds it for him.  It makes it harder.  I think the secondary should be fairly healthy this week.  I think we should get almost everybody back.”

On TaQuon Marshall
“It’s just execution.  When you get out there, you’ve got to do the right thing and be in the right spot.  So, the more you do that the more you’ll get to play.  And he’s been dinged up a little bit all year too.”

On Isiah Willis’ play over the course of the season
“I think he’s been fairly consistent.  We’d like to block better for all those guys, but he’s been consistent.  He’s got the advantage of being here for three years and knowing where to go and what to do.  So, he doesn’t have to think about, he can just go play.  I think we are getting out of ‘Ike’ about what we got.”

On if he could tell Isiah Willis had a chance to get playing time
“Not really.  Not quickly, but I think he’s kind of worked his way into it.  He was a really good walk on.  Sometimes guys walk on and you know there never going to play, but he wasn’t like that.  He was always way down the list and we really felt like this year he would probably be our fourth or fifth A-back and be in the rotation.  And, when you got all of those guys hurt, he just kind of stepped up.”

“Going back to spring you thought that?”
“Yeah, probably.”

On his appreciation for the 1990 National Championship team
“Yeah, it’s a huge accomplishment. Anytime you can do that, I don’t care where you are or what you do, it’s huge.  That’s quite a feat that they pulled off.”

On if there’s still a sense of urgency for the team
“Well, I sure hope there’s a sense of urgency.  I hope we never lost it.  But, you’ve got to take it game by game.  You can’t get too far ahead of yourself.  And my message to the team today will be, ‘Hey, we’ve got to try get number four.’  I mean, you’ve got to try to get four.  We’ve got a bye week and we know that.  And I can promise you, you don’t want to have to sit on losing for two weeks because you don’t get to play for two weeks.  So we’ve got to get a good plan and go up there and play.  Their [Virginia] backs are to the wall too.  This is probably a draw a line in the sand for them game.  You know, they’re trying to salvage their season.  You’ve got to get ready for their best shot up there.”

On the importance of getting to a good start on the road
“Well, I think anytime that you can get out to a good start on the road it’s huge.  But, our last two, Duke and Clemson, we certainly didn’t get off to a very good start.  We dug ourselves a hole so big you couldn’t get out of it.  You always want to start well.  You look at the [North] Carolina game, it couldn’t have started any better here at home and we didn’t finish it.  So you’ve just got to play for 60 minutes, take it one play at a time, and just play.  And there’s going to be some ups and downs.  We talked to the team, I tell them all the time, everything is not going to go perfect and you’re going to mistakes.  And guess what?  Once in a while they are going to block you and you’re going to miss a tackle, or you’re going to miss a block.  You’ve just got to put it out of your mind and go play the next play.  And that’s the way you’ve got to approach it.  You’ve just got to keep playing.  Just play, keep playing.  Whether it’s going great or it’s going bad you’ve just got to keep playing.”

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