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Paul Johnson Press Conference

Nov. 9, 2010

ATLANTA – Head Coach Paul Johnson’s Opening Statement
“It is good to be back home. We had two very tough road games in very tough, hostile environments. It didn’t turn out the way that we would have liked. I was proud of our guys on Thursday night, the way that they hung in there and fought, we just didn’t get it done. We didn’t make enough plays or do what we needed to come out with a win. Now we are playing a very talented Miami team as Tevin Washington gets his first career start at quarterback. We have to get together, get a plan and go play.”

On changing play-calling with Tevin as quarterback
“We might change it a little bit. We will see how the game goes. It depends. It is an ebb and flow type deal. He was our starting quarterback this spring and my thought process on that is to let him see what he can do. It is like I told him, you don’t have to win the game, just do your job and manage the game. We are not the kind of football team that relies solely on the quarterback. I think you have to play and we have confidence in doing what we need to do to win the game.”

On Washington getting the start at quarterback
“What does Joshua (Nesbitt) have that Tevin doesn’t have? A lot of experience. This spring I thought that Tevin operated the offense pretty well. He did some good things and I think that he can do what we are asking him to do. Until you see him play a little bit it is hard to gauge. Miami is probably going to run a little faster on defense than we do playing against ourselves. They are going to present some different things with a little more pressure. When I go out there and I am in a scrimmage in the spring, if I miss a read or do something bad, I know that I didn’t lose the game. You are competitive but it is a different deal. Some guys play better in those situations and some guys play worse, we will just have to see how he does.”

On Tevin’s demeanor in practice
“Today will be the first real hard day of practice that we have had since we played. The nature of the way that we do things, he has had just as many reps as Joshua. We run two huddles. Most of the practice is off a script, the option periods anyway, so it is bang-bang. You get a lot of reps. He has had a zillion reps. We wont be asking him to do anything that he hasn’t already done a million times before.”

On overcoming mistakes
“I thought that (Washington) did some good things. He was put into a tough situation and we missed some reads on the option that were big, but Josh doesn’t get them all right either. The kid is not going to play perfect and I don’t expect him to be perfect. Well… that isn’t true, I do (laughs). But, I think you have to evaluate the overall game. He is a rational kid and he knows when he did the right thing and when he didn’t and you just have to put it behind you. It is like I tell our guys all the time: you play each play like it is the last play in the world, then forget it, go to the next one. It is all you can do.”

On the Miami defense
“They are big, they are fast, they really don’t have a weakness if you look. They have a really big defensive line. [Allen] Bailey is probably a top-five pick in the draft, certainly a first-round pick. The secondary is good, they look like Miami. That is what they always have, guys that are big and are able to run.”

On Leonard Hankerson
“He has big-play potential, but all of their wide receivers do. Their quarterback [Stephen Morris] is really going to be a good player. In the first game he started they had over 500 yards of offense. He threw a couple of interceptions, but he has a big arm, he’s mobile, he was a very highly recruited kid.”

On returning home
“Hopefully it will be a boost. We have a lot to play for and we talked about that at the team meeting on Monday. Hopefully we will come back and be ready to go. I thought that we played hard in Blacksburg. It wasn’t a case of lack of effort. We played hard. We screwed some things up that could have made a difference. There are always four or five plays in every game that are huge and you never know which ones they are until after the game. We had our chances, trust me, if you watch the tape. We had multiple chances to win that game, we just didn’t make a play when we needed to.”

On the team’s effort against Virginia Tech
“It was probably the best effort that I have seen from them this season. We grade effort and it was right there. We played pretty hard at North Carolina, too.”

On game attendance around the league
“It seemed pretty loud at Clemson to me. They have a pretty rabid fan base. We did not play at Florida State this year. I can tell you one thing. Blacksburg is pretty loud. I have had the opportunity through the years to play in front of probably 95,000 people in different arenas and I have never played anywhere that was louder than Blacksburg was on Thursday night. Especially when the game got tight in the second half. Our guys had a hard time hearing.”

On the 1990 team returning this weekend to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their National Championship
“It is great. That is a great accomplishment and certainly we are proud of what they did. I wasn’t here, but having coached here for three years, I understand what a big accomplishment that was. It speaks volumes of coach [Bobby] Ross. I had a chance to know him when I was at Navy and he was the head coach at Army. We played against each other two or three times and I have always had a lot of respect for him.”

On the team’s energy level
“You don’t ever know where their energy level is at. You are dealing with young people and part of my job as a coach is to point out what we have left to play for. If you are competitive and you want to play, you are going to play no matter what. That is why you are out there if you are a competitor. This is new territory for them, but this is also new territory for me as a head coach. I was telling somebody yesterday, in 14 years as a head coach, if it doesn’t happen, this is the second time that we have not won the conference or at least tied for the (or division title). At Navy we were independent but we played for the Commander In Chief trophy which was the number one goal of the team. We won the league all five years that I was at Georgia Southern, we won the trophy five out of six years at Navy and either tied or won in the two years that I have been here.

“I am not worried about me getting ready to play because I am competitive and I know what it’s about, but I think you have to point out to the guys what you are still playing for. You are playing for bowl eligibility, you are playing for a winning season, you are playing for pride. Revenge is a good motivator for those who care and they spanked us pretty good last year, I haven’t forgotten, I hope they haven’t.”

On the thought process of the seniors
“I think they all handle it differently. It depends on their personality. I think the reality probably hit the seniors way before now. That is a gradual process as you go through that. Every time you go out there you think about how many times you have left, or what is going on, something different happens every time you go out on the field.”

On Joshua Nesbitt
“I haven’t talked to him today but I talked to him Sunday. I talked to his mom and his girlfriend last night and everything is fine (following Nesbitt’s surgery on Monday). He actually went home, he will be back Wednesday morning.”



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