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Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 7, 2009

A transcription of head coach Paul Johnson’s weekly press conference.

Opening Statement
“We are getting ready to play our first conference game of the year against Clemson. Historically, they are a very good football team. When you watch them on tape, without a question they have as good athletes, or maybe better, than anyone we play in the league. I am extremely impressed with them after their first game. They made some mistakes that they will correct. They flew around and play hard. They play about eight to nine defensive linemen that all look the same and are a chore. On offense they have [C.J.] Spiller, who can go the distance any time he touches the ball. They have Jacoby Ford at receiver and some big running backs as well. I thought their freshman quarterback really handled himself well for his first game. It will be a formidable challenge for us this week. I was encouraged with our practice this morning. At least for the most part, until the end, I thought there was a little more energy and urgency, which is what we needed. Hopefully we will come back out tomorrow, have a great practice and be ready to play Thursday night.”

On team’s energy going into Thursday night
“You can play with high energy but you still have to execute. When I am saying `be nasty’, I mean when you have the chance and you have someone down, you try to pour it on. We will be fighting for our lives on Thursday night. It should not be an issue.”

On backup at B-Back position
“Lucas [Cox] and Richard [Watson] are practicing and are rolling with the Twos (second team). I will probably stick Anthony Allen in there as well. Richard is a little bit gimpy so I am not sure he can play. Anthony had a whole spring there so he kind of knows where to go. We get Roddy [Jones] back as well. That is one thing about having depth at running back; a lot of those guys are interchangeable.”

On planning for C.J. Spiller
“We are getting ready for Clemson. We never get ready for individuals anyway. We are going to do what we do. We do not change by who the personnel is on the other team.”

On the defensive tackles play against Jacksonville State
“I was not satisfied with anybody so I would not single out the defensive tackles. They were like everybody else. I think everybody on our team could have played better than they did. They were no different. They had plays where they were O.K. There was not a whole lot of production in there but I am not sure there were a lot of opportunities for them to make plays. Most everything was on the perimeter. Sometimes those guys can do a good job by cancelling gaps and bounce things to the linebackers. They will get challenged this week and we will find out what we have in there.”

On quarterbacks fumbling during Jacksonville State game
“Everybody talks about how our quarterbacks get beat up all the time. Josh Nesbitt probably did not get tackled the last two and a half weeks of camp. That is a concern some times (that he did not get hit). He got hit up high some but when you do not get tackled there is no excuse for it but that is the concern. It is probably not a surprise that the two guys that laid the ball on the ground were the two guys that were not getting hit in fall camp.”

On analysts believing quarterbacks will fumble in Georgia Techs’ system
“I do not think you have to fumble. We have played games where we have not fumbled. It is not that hard to tuck the ball and squeeze it. If you look at the fumbles, one he [Josh Nesbitt] had the ball by his knee and the other one is just having enough urgency to take care of it. No matter what offense you run, occasionally somebody is going to knock one out. Those were careless; Tevin [Washington] was careless with his as well.”

On Chandler Anderson not getting his punts off quick enough Saturday
“There wasn’t much pressure because if there was we would have not seen them get off. There were a couple of times I thought we would have to wait until Sunday for him [Chandler Anderson] to kick it. He needs to work on it. We are working on getting him to speed up. He invited everyone we play to come and try and block it by standing back there and holding the ball. They are coming. He just might as well get used to it. He better learn to get it off or he will not be out there.”

On team’s execution of first play
“The first play was great execution. Bay-Bay [Demaryius Thomas] knocked the safety off his feet to the ground. He [Anthony Allen] knocked the corner on the ground. Joe Gilbert cut the linebacker to the ground and Embry Peeples cut the backside safety to the ground. So it made it pretty easy for Jon [Dwyer]. All he had to do was catch it and outrun the backside. After that it went down hill. I think we lost some of our intensity, we were O.K. through the first quarter but then we didn’t do as well.”

On Anthony Allen’s performance Saturday
“Anthony [Allen] is a good player. He had a few drops that we would like to see him make. I think that is one of the things that is exciting about him being an A-Back is because he can catch the ball. He needs to catch it across the middle.”

On playing on a short week
“It is a hassle. It is tough. We put a full day of practice in yesterday. We got in early this morning and we will work through the day. Tomorrow, we should be up to speed where you would be on a Wednesday of a normal game week. The first couple of days are the hardest. You get done on Saturday and then you come back on Sunday and practice. Fortunately, in Saturday’s game, nobody played more than 40 plays on offense. Most of the key guys didn’t play that many. On defense, a few guys played 50 but they are secondary guys. Actually the game was not as bad as a scrimmage during camp as for reps and those types of things. We will have one more practice in pads tomorrow and then we will get into shells and play the game.”

On any new players stepping up as leaders in practice
“I do not think I heard any new voices. I think the guys hustled around a little better themselves. That is going to work itself out. The leaders will come to the forefront as the season goes on. It is hard to be a leader if you are not playing with any effort. We had some of our marquee players that did not play with great effort. It will be hard for them to get on other guys.”

On backups that stood out besides Julian Burnett
“I do not think anyone else really caught my eye. I think they played like I thought they would play.”

On playing Thursday night games in back-to-back weeks
The schedule is what it is. You just have to play it. You can find negatives and positives about whatever. If you are going to play two Thursday games, you might as well play them back-to-back because you have the full seven days. The first one is the bear. As long as it is fair for both teams.”

On playing on national T.V. Thursday night
“I think there is no question that it could help if you play well on national T.V. The thing about the Thursday night games is that unlike Saturday games, you are about IT. If anybody is watching they are probably watching your game. You get a lot of good exposure. Fortunately, last season we had a great game on Thursday night against Miami. We had a great crowd, played well and we won. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully, we will have the same type of atmosphere and we will play well.”

On team being ready to play ACC opener Thursday night
“You play them when you have to play them. I was hoping we are a little further along than what we are. Again, I am just not ready to make that judgment yet. When we started the game, we looked like the team I thought we would be. Then we gradually lost our focus a little bit. I am willing to give them another chance on Thursday.”

On Josh Nesbitt’s play Saturday
“I did not think it surprised me. I think Josh threw the ball well. I said all along he was better that way. He could have had some really good stats. He had some balls dropped on him. If they catch those balls he is probably nine for 11 with 200 yards and a couple touchdowns. He made some nice plays on third down. He does that. He has a knack for scrambling around and finding the guys on third down so that was a positive.”

On team fired up to play Thursday night
“We had one (Thursday night game) last season and we were pretty fired up. I would hope because there is a lot riding on the game. Even though it is not a divisional game it is our first conference game. You want to get off to a good start if you can.”

On assistant coaches picking up their pace
We have talked about it. I do not know if it is so much pace. I just want to make sure everyone has the same expectation level as I do.”

On coach Johnson’s expectation level of team
“My expectation level is for our guys to go out play hard on each and every play. The wins and losses take care of themselves. I do not care what scheme you run, how talented you are, the one thing I know in all my years coaching is if you do not play hard you are not going to be very successful. You may get by sometimes on teams that are more talented though it has been my experience that you do not turn it on and turn it off. It is a taught skill that you learn to play with. That is what we are focusing on right now. Running to the ball and playing hard.”

On offensive line starters
“We will probably have the same starters. We did not play very well on the offensive line but I think we can play better. Austin Barrick (OT) needs to play a little better like everybody else but he will continue to be the starting right tackle for now. Cord [Howard] will be the right guard, [Sean] Bedford will be the center. Joe Gilbert probably played closer to what I thought he would than anybody. He will be the left guard. Brad Sellers probably played better than any of the other tackles so he will be the left tackle.”

On Jaybo Shaw getting on the field
“He practiced this morning. He is not ready play seven-on-seven drills yet but he was out their throwing the ball around. It has only been three weeks. It is still early for him, Jordan Luallan came back to practice today. I thought we were Navy with eight quarterbacks out there.”

On watching Miami vs. Florida State game
“If I get done (working tonight), I will probably turn it on and watch it. The one thing about watching games in this day and age, we get the tapes as soon as the game is over. What we are watching for, the tape is a lot more valuable than watching the game on T.V.”

On Roddy Jones reacting to contact
“Roddy [Jones] had contact last week. We were not going to led him have contact for two days and then let him play. We knocked him around last week. That is why I said he could play (vs. JSU) if we needed him. I just did not feel that it was fair to all those guys who went through camp and then bring a guy back five days early. If there was a big separation, he would have played. I thought we had enough guys that we could hopefully have won the game without Roddy. He is back and he will be a starter this week. He is fine. This is his second week. The cast is a cut off, it is not a big deal.”

On the kickoff return duo
“They are both back there [Owrin Smith and Athony Allen], it just depends on who catches the ball. They can choose to kick it to the other guy. I think Orwin did a good job. Our return game was really a positive. The kickoff and the punt return with Jerrard [Tarrant] was certainly a positive.”

On Anthony Barnes playing special teams
“A.T. [Anthony Barnes] did a great job going down and breaking the wedge. Our kick-cover team was pretty good. I thought they covered pretty well. A.T. and Julian [Burnett] both did a good job getting down the field and busting the wedge. They were both real physical which is going to be huge this week. We have to cover the kicks.”

On anything done in the past to prepare for a player like C.J. Spiller
“Get the guy with the ball; that is what you play. He [Spiller] is going to get the ball so many times and you have to tackle him when he gets it. He is a great player but it would not be any different than trying to tackle Jonathan Dwyer in practice or a scrimmage. When he has the ball you have to wrap him up. You have to rally to the ball and more than one guy has to get there. You have to be aware of how they use him”

On kicking to C.J. Spiller
“We do not plan to kick it out of bounds on purpose. We plan on kicking it. We got to kick it and cover it.”

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