Sept. 21, 2010
Head Coach Paul Johnson’s Opening Statement
It is good to be back home after two straight road games. We are looking forward to a chance to get back home in front of our home fans and play. I was pleased with the effort from our guys last week and the intensity. The challenge is going to see if we are going to be able to duplicate that or increase it this week. North Carolina State is coming in undefeated, playing great football, so it will be another great challenge for our guys this week.
On the importance of this game
All of the games that we play are important. I think all of the conference games are, but especially when they are at home. We talk a lot about not wanting to lose a home conference game. This week we have a little bit of a jump on everybody because most of them haven’t played yet so it is a chance to make hat while the sun shines and get off to a good start in the league.
On the NC State turnover margin
I think they have been aggressive. Some of it is just fortune. I think they have created some, but sometimes it just happens, it goes in streaks. That will be a big key to the game. Trying to protect the ball and like always, trying to win that turnover battle.
On the NC State linebacker corps
I think all three of their linebackers are good players. Certainly Nate [Irving] coming back is a big help for them. I think Terrell Manning is a good player who makes a lot of plays and Audie Cole is pretty good too. They have a good linebacking group.
On the defensive line
At times I think they have made some plays. Izaan [Cross] has had his moments. We have to be more consistent and continue to get better. We are not anywhere where we need to be by any stretch of the imagination there or anywhere else for that matter. Those guys need to continue to keep working. We have had six straight games where we have given up a 100-yard rusher. That would be a good point to start right there.
On the team’s “killer instinct”
I think we played hard in the last game, played with some intensity, and that is the way that you have to play. I don’t know about killer instinct. When we had the chance to put them away we got two penalties. It stopped drives and we had to kick field goals. One I don’t know about, the other we committed. A real killer instinct would have been to put both of those balls in the end zone.
On the defense’s tackling
I think they played harder. There were more people around there but we still had double digit missed tackles. It is something that we have to continue to work on and get better at. Clearly we have made some progress. In the second half, they didn’t score every time they got it. We had to have a stop to win the game, so we went out and got a stop. Hopefully that will help the confidence.
On never losing back-to-back games in his tenure at Georgia Tech
I think it is a tribute to the kids coming back and fighting hard. Honestly, last week we didn’t talk a whole lot about it. We just talked about how our back was against the wall; we lost a game on the road that we felt like we probably had a chance to win and we didn’t want to dig ourselves a deeper hole. Plus, it was the first conference game. I think they responded with the attitude and intensity that they needed to since the start of the season. Like I said, the big question is can we maintain it? Was it a one-time deal or can we maintain it?
I don’t know that they (Tech’s kickers) are kicking the ball a whole lot deeper, I think we are covering it better. I said early on and I don’t want to jinx us, but we have some good athletes out there and guys that are running down the field. To this point they have also done a good job of covering the kicks. Scott [Blair] had a great day kicking Saturday, but if you go back and look at the other games I am sure he wasn’t kicking it any deeper than he did before. He was in a zone and hopefully he will stay in that because he is very capable of kicking like that all the time.
On Sean Bedford’s cramping
He just gets dehydrated. Sean is a guy that plays very hard and sweats a lot and it has been hot. People talk about what it takes out of the defense on a 10-minute drive, the other guys are playing too and it takes it out of them a little bit. We could be more proactive, we try and get him hydrated before the game and he does all that stuff, but we might have to help him some other ways.
On Jay Finch coming in on the O-Line
He did some good things. I think he has a bright future. He has a lot of ability. Part of it is experience and growing up and as soon as he learns to take that stuff a little more seriously, he has much ability as anyone on the team. We have always thought that he could be a really good player.
On preparing for a team that he hasn’t faced as head coach at Tech
There are only so many ways that they can line up. Once the game starts, we will try to get a beat on it. You can say the other way — they haven’t played us either. Maybe it will be a little faster than they can practice. I don’t know who has the advantage in those deals.
On focusing on one player, NC State’s quarterback Russell Wilson
I don’t ever gear myself towards any one player. I gear myself towards the other team. I think you have to get ready for the schemes. The way that you play the scheme might vary depending on who the individual is. Just like this quarterback. You know if you are going to pressure, you want to make sure that you are pressuring with containing him in mind, which will change where you bring in guys from. This is not the NFL. We are not looking for match-ups. I don’t have to get this guy on this tackle, or this corner on this wide receiver. Some people might do that, I just never have.
On Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio
I know Mark a little bit. You hope that he is doing well and you are glad that they caught it before it is something worse. I think that it probably gets a little more publicity because he is a coach. Mark is probably not the first 54-year old man to have a heart attack, but you don’t read about the others in the paper because they are not in the spotlight. Is there stress involved in this job? Yeah. I mean there is probably stress involved in the guy that is trying to make a living for his family everyday and doesn’t know if his job is going to be gone either. It is just part of it and you do the best that you can with it. Mark is a good guy and you just hope that he will be ok.