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Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 29, 2009

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

Opening Statement
“We are getting to the point where we’re on a routine. We are going from one game to the next. We are coming off of the North Carolina game, which was a good conference division win for us. Now we go out of the league this week to play a team from the SEC, who is much improved from a year ago. They are very impressive when you watch them on tape. They are flying around on defense. They probably should have won the game against LSU last week. I think they had over 100 yards more offense and they controlled the ball. It will be a challenge for us to go into their home stadium and play in Starkville. Hopefully, we can build on the momentum that we started last week. We were far from perfect, but we competed and played with some intensity.”

On Anthony Dixon’s play compared to other running backs Tech has faced this season
“[Anthony Dixon] is a good player. It’s hard to compare guys. He hurt us last year when we played them. He is a very talented running back and a guy that is capable of going the distance any time. He is really a good player.”

On LSU’s goal line stand against Mississippi State
“I don’t know. It was just kind of a freak thing. They almost got it in there on second down, but the guy stumbled a little bit. The spot probably could have gone either way. Then on third down, they had a guy that was wide open. The guy from LSU made a super freak play. I doubt the quarterback saw him. He probably saw his teammate so wide open that he didn’t see the defender. Then on fourth down, if they pitch the ball then they walk in. I think you have to give LSU credit there. They made the plays to stop Mississippi State.”

On relationship with Mississippi State Head Coach Dan Mullen
“We have talked before when they were at Utah. When Urban [Meyer] was there they were putting in a lot of their offense. We talked from time to time on the phone. [Dan Mullen] would call me to bounce things off of me and ask how we did this and that. I’ve admired him from afar, but I don’t really know Dan that well. I don’t know that I ever talked to Dan personally when he was at Florida. I talked to Urban but not Dan so much.”

On the advantages to lining up in the shotgun formation
“If they don’t get stomped, then everybody won’t ask during the week why everybody has caught up with their offense. I think they’re back there to throw the quick passing game, screens and stuff like that. If you’re in the gun then it makes it easier to throw the quick passes. I think there are some drawbacks to being as effective running the ball. That’s why some guys run in the I-formation and some guys use one back. Some guys do different things like that, but if I thought there was a huge advantage to be in the gun, that’s where we’d be. I just don’t think it is.”

On the adjustments made on offense throughout the season
“The offense hasn’t changed. It hasn’t changed from game one to game five. We have just played a little better. Just because you get beat and somebody stops you, most of the time it has a lot less to do with what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with than what you’re doing. We ran the same plays Saturday with the exception of a little draw that we added. Everything else was the same plays that we ran against everybody else. The difference between North Carolina and Miami was that we had the ball and stayed on the field, while North Carolina couldn’t get on the field. In the Miami game, we couldn’t get on the field. So it was kind of flipped. We did a good job Saturday on defense getting them off of the field and getting the ball. And when we had the ball we did a pretty good job on third downs holding on to the ball. If you can outrush somebody the way we did on Saturday, I think you’ll find that you’re going to win the game with that kind of disparity in rushing yardage. Now you might play a Texas Tech but with an average, normal team that’s trying to do both, if you can limit them running the ball then you’ll usually have some success.”

On preparing for MSU
“Well, you watch their schemes and their personnel. We’ve got them with four games on tape. We’ve never played their coaches so it’s kind of a guessing game where they’re going to be. They play a lot of different fronts and they’re very multiple on defense, so we’re trying to figure out where they’re going to be. Hopefully, one of the neat things about our offense is that it’s packaged to where if they line up in something we didn’t practice against, then it shouldn’t make as big a deal as if we were doing something else. But we’re going to have to try to hit on a lot of different things this week, because they’ve been very multiple in their other four games. I try to look at them and say, `Ok, here’s how I would play if I were them.’ That’s kind of what we concentrate on. We try to find what would be the toughest for us and feel like if they’re not in that then they may still beat us but that wasn’t the toughest thing they could line up in.”

On using a read-based offense
“We ran a lot of read offense Saturday. I don’t know where that came from that we weren’t running any read plays. We ran a ton of read plays; almost every play we ran was an option play. We did not run the triple option as much, but we ran a ton of midline option. There were reads on every play. It wasn’t pre-called for Josh [Nesbitt] to carry the ball every time. He was reading the tackle on the B-back and if the guy took him then he pulled it. If the tackle didn’t then he handed it to Jon [Dwyer].”

On the changes in the Georgia Tech defense
“I hope we play as well as we did last week. I think you play a base defense and then you add a wrinkle or two. We had a couple things that we did not use. Good defenses do not change from week to week. I do not think you get good at anything when you do that. We will play our defense. We have to get better and I think we will play even better than we did last Saturday.”

On improvements the team needs to make on defense
“We played with our eyes. We gave up some big plays. The thing I look out is when they throw the ball and drop it or throw it over their head, OK, they messed up but I want to cover that. I do not want to depend on them throwing it over somebody’s head or them dropping the ball. The same thing with our eyes, if we are not looking where we are supposed to and they get behind us, I do not care if they throw it, they still got behind us. All those things you have to correct. If you are not in the gap, they may not have gashed you but you are in the wrong gap and you need to correct it.”

On term “Play with your eyes”
“I don’t know where it came from; I think that is the way you are supposed to play. The worst thing you can do on defense is having a bunch of guys staring in the backfield. They have keys that they have to look at. If the defender is playing man-to-man defense but looking in the backfield then he is going to get toasted. He better have his eyes on the receiver. There is not a whole lot of teams that are going to release the receivers down field and run the ball. If I am keying the tight end and he is running a pass route, most likely it is a pass play. They usually don’t do that and run the ball. If I am the defensive end, I better be looking at the guy I am keying than in the back field. The ball is going to take you where it is going.”

On junior wide receiver Demaryius Thomas
“Bay-Bay [Demayrius Thomas] is a good player and there are times we are going to try and get him the ball. He has made plays for us on third down and is kind of a go-to-guy. They are going to start rolling guys to him so we have to get other guys involved. The way our offense is, it is hard to double-cover him. It is really hard unless we are in third and long. You can’t be in double coverage and be sound against the option. He is going to have his one-on-one opportunities but we just take it as it comes. He is a little like Jon [Dwyer], I do not think you can force him the ball but he is a good player out there.”

On short passes in Tech’s offense
“It depends on what people are doing but the nature of what our offense is, we are not looking for two yards. If I want two yards, I will hand it to Jon [Dwyer]. It is my personal preference but I would never want an offense that I had to throw it on third-and-two, unless I wanted to. There are some offenses that if you throw eight in the box, they have to throw it because they have no way of blocking. We are not set up that way. If we are running the option, you can put as many guys in there as you want but more than likely we can still account for them and run the ball. A lot of our pass routes are built in as options. If we could throw it short, they would go short. Because the defense is up to play the run so much, they are up there tighter and it inhibits the short passes. We had some of them last Saturday that if we read them right, we could have hit some big ones deep. We didn’t convert and we caught them short by making some spectacular catches. If you go back through the years, we certainly had some guys that completed a high percentage of their throws at Hawaii. Garrett Gabriel comes to mind. He must have completed 59 percent of his throws, which is pretty good when you are not dumping it to your running back all the time, which we do not do. The passing game is what it is. We are just geared a little more to running the ball right now.”

On freshman Stephen Hill
“Stephen [Hill] is still a work in progress. A couple of times he didn’t go down the field far enough or get enough separation. Stephen is a raw talent. He is a freshman. We need to bring him along. He is a very talented man and has ability. To this point, I do not think he has played up to his ability in games. That is what it is to be a freshman. We need to continue to bring him along. It would be great if you had two guys like Bay-Bay [Demaryius Thomas] and Bay-Bay still makes mistakes. He doesn’t do everything right all the time, he would tell you. He is a very good player. I am glad he is on our team.”

On taking the Miami loss and using it as motivation
“I don’t think losing is ever good but the thing about it is you have to learn to compete and you are not going to just show up and beat anybody. Every team wants to win. You have to go in with a chip on your shoulder because they will. Good teams come in and try to do whatever it takes to win the game. We are growing; still some leadership on the line but it is coming.”

On Josh Nesbitt’s toughness during Saturday’s game
“I do not watch the TV copy. Josh [Nesbitt] is a competitor. He played hard and I am proud of him. We have some backups in Tevin [Washington], Quentin [Sims] and now we have Jaybo [Shaw] back so we have some guys. Josh never made any indication to me that he wanted to come out. It was like the last play that he scored on. We had the ball on the 10-yard line and they took a timeout. I looked at him and asked him if he had one more in him and he was ready. We ran the midline option and he got into the end zone. One of the best traits about Josh is that he is competitive. He wants to do well and he wants to win. When he plays like that, he becomes a great leader because I think the team feeds off of him.”

On having Jaybo Shaw back as a backup quarteback
“I do not know, we will see how Jaybo [Shaw] does this week. It might be a situation where we can give a series off. It is sometimes good to get to the sideline and watch a series if things are not going great. Jaybo was playing very well when he got hurt. We certainly have comfort level with him because he knows what is going on.”

On the Yellow Jacket kicking situation
“They [Scott Blair and Chris Tanner] both kicked yesterday and we will kick this week. We will see how it unfolds. It is kind of a dilemma because Scott kicks well in practice. He is a very talented young man and has a strong leg. I do not know what to do with it. It is a tough decision. I am going to watch the other guy kick this week and he might make up my mind more than Scott. We will just see. I know Scott is capable. He has done it. He just needs to do it on consistent basis. It is not like you are trying to put someone out there to throw the ball thirty yards. I know he can do what we are asking him to do. We just need to do it consistently.”

On freshman long snapper Tyler Morgan
“Tyler [Morgan] is someone we indentified fairly early as a guy we wanted in our program. He had the talent to be a fairly good long snapper. When they came to camp, [Jeff] Lentz performed pretty well and Tyler was a freshman. We were thinking that if Lentz can do it then we can redshirt Tyler. After the first few games went along, we were not consistent in our long snap. Besides the one off the head, Chandler [Anderson] was catching them all over the place. Tyler is a little better cover guy. I was proud of him. I thought he came in and made some good snaps. There were a lot of people that wanted Tyler to come to their school. He came over in an official visit and that is how he ended up here. He is a walk-on and not on scholarship.”

On Tyler Morgan’s tackle downfield on special teams
“I am sure he was excited. It was his first time. I am sure the butterflies were churning. It was a memorable first play for him. You make the snap and then get downfield and make the tackle.”

On getting the weekly routine back on schedule
“I think that any time you are dealing with young people, it is better to be in a routine. Now they know that they have a game on Saturday. They get Sunday off. I know what Monday’s practice is. Tuesday and Wednesday we are in pads. They like Thursday and Friday, they have time to rest. You just get into a routine. The guys that have labs have them on Monday’s and Thursday’s. When you start playing midweek, they have to miss school. They are not missing any school now. They do not have to stay up late to make up work. That is a big part of being on routine.”

On redshirt junior Robert Hall’s status
“They are going to scope him in four weeks. They will see if the ACL has to be done. We know it is a MCL. If the ACL doesn’t have to be done then there is chance he can come back.”

On reshirt sophomore Kyle Jackson’s injury
“Kyle is having surgery tomorrow. He is through for the year. We had two or three Liz Frank Joint injuries at the Academy. The first time I have heard of this injury was at Navy. We may have had some at Georgia Southern but nobody knew what it was. I think they vary by degree. With Kyle’s, they thought it would heal itself. There was not much of a separation. If there is clear separation you would go in a heal it. Because his was not separated, they thought to let it heal on its own but it never did.”

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