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Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Opening Statement:

“Good morning. Really, as I look back, during the season, you don’t have much time to reflect on what happened. I look back and I’m proud of what the team accomplished. One of our main goals was to win the ACC Championship and we accomplished that in just our second year here. That’s a real positive. I think we’ve laid some really strong foundations to move forward on. We’re going to have a good nucleus coming back. I think this year, hopefully for the first time, we’ll be able to be at the full scholarship level for the upcoming season. We should have 85 guys on scholarship if everything goes well. I’m excited about moving forward.

“There were some bumps in the road. Anytime you lose a game it’s disappointing. You’d hate to finish the season the way that we did. If I can figure out why we played as poorly as we did, we wouldn’t have played that poorly. I thought we had good preparation leading up to [the Orange Bowl]. I think Iowa is a good football team as well. When their quarterback [Ricky Stanzi] played, no one beat them. We didn’t play particularly well in that game. But, all-in-all, I think if you look back on the season it’s the fourth time in the history of Georgia Tech football that we’ve won 11 games. If someone asked us before the season would you take 11 wins, an ACC Championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl, everybody would’ve said yes. Having said that, we have to move forward and get better. We won’t be satisfied until we win them all. That’s the goal.”

On if there are any scholarships open for walk-ons currently on the squad:

“There are openings. I don’t know any individuals that were walk-ons that will move up. The criteria you set for that really varies because it’s at a certain position. Guys can be listed second on the depth [chart], but they’re not really second, because if something happened to the first guy you move somebody over. I think you have to look at it and ask if they’ve earned it. We have a lot of guys who walk-on who work their tails off and in a perfect world they’ve earned some help. What you would like to do is get them in a position where you can at least help them their last year, which is what we’ve been able to do with some guys this year. We’ll have to make some tough decision coming up.”

On if Anthony Allen will be moving to B-Back:

“Well, we don’t have to play this week, but he will probably start there in the spring. That’s the plan.”

On how the search for a new defensive coordinator is coming along:

“It’s going good, we’re going to have one some time. We just want to make sure that it’s the right fit and it’s what we want to do. You have to take personnel into consideration a little bit, but it’s going well. We’ll have one. I’ve got some scenarios in play and it’s just a question of making a decision and finalizing it.”

On what he is looking for in a defensive coordinator:

“I’m a bottom line kind of guy, so what you want is that there’s a lot of ways to get there. Just like on offense. I like what we do on offense, that doesn’t mean that’s the only system you can be successful with and I feel the same way about defense. I want somebody who can have a system that understands it and can be efficient. I don’t care if it’s a 3-4 or an eight-man front or a 4-3. If you can come in and show me that you can fix it and that you can teach it. It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s whether or not you can come in and teach it and get it across to the guys playing. If you have a track record, that’s good. There’s also that point of just giving a guy a chance. A long time ago, I didn’t have a track record, but I could sell what I had to them. You want the whole package.

“You need someone who can fit in on the staff. I’ve said before, one of the most important things you have is chemistry and guys that can get along and work together. You’re together so much and you have so many external forces that can create havoc and cause problems that the last thing you want is internal problems. So, you put all that together and you come up with somebody.”

On if he believes the four Georgia Tech players who declared for the NFL Draft (Demaryius Thomas, Derrick Morgan, Jonathan Dwyer and Morgan Burnett) in the last week are ready for the jump to the next level:

“It didn’t matter what I thought, it’s what they thought. I talked to all of them and I think every individual is different for whatever reason. For this group it was kind of a perfect storm. I can make a case for each of them to leave and I can make a case for each of them to stay. They had to ultimately, with their families, decide. There’s a lot of money involved and sometimes you want it right now. You have to evaluate. If somebody came and told you that they’ll give you five hundred thousand dollars now or you can wait till next year and you might get 1.5 [million], but you might not get anything if you get hurt. Some guys are going to wait for the 1.5 [million] and other guys are going to say give me the five hundred thousand right now because I need it.

“I think that all four of those guys will go and have a chance to play. That would be the real tragedy if they came out and didn’t get drafted or never have the chance. The biggest thing that those guys are taking a risk on is losing money that they’ll never get back. It’s a little bit of a crapshoot.”

On if any spots will open up on the roster now with the recent players leaving for the NFL draft:

“Maybe one or two will open. We’re going to have some conversations with some guys to see where they stand, but not a whole lot. I look at those guys leaving as they’re all really good players and certainly we’re going to miss them. But, you have to look at it and say we had six seniors on scholarship and we just lost 10. It’s still not a lot. Somebody has to step up. I tell the team all the time, one man’s misery is another man’s opportunity. Somebody gets to slide in and play.”

On what the biggest surprise of the season was:

“I think our quarterback [Josh Nesbitt] played really well, but I don’t know if I would say I was surprised by that. I thought he would play better, he had a great year. If he can make as much of an improvement from this year to next year as he did from last year to this season, he can really be special. Julian Burnett, as a true freshman, played a lot. We had some other guys who played well, but it didn’t surprise me.”

On whom the team MVP was on the year:

“I really don’t have one. I try not to single guys out. I think it’s a team game. There were different guys for different games. We had a lot of guys play well.”

On what areas the team plans to improve on during spring practice:

“We’re in the process of looking that over right now. Just off the top of my head, again we have to work on being more efficient throwing the ball. That’s an area of concern. We need to be more consistent in that area. We have to be better up front (on offense), there’s no secret about that. I think we made progress from year one to year two, but we have to continue to make progress. Defensively, we have to tackle better. We gave up enough big plays to last a decade, so we have to get away from that. Also, third down defense and that’s just off the top of my head. There are a lot of things we can get better at.”

On if current coaching instability in the SEC can help ACC schools like Georgia Tech in recruiting:

“No, not really. If you’re going to pick a school it should be because you like the school and you like what the program is and what you’re going to major in and all that. I tell guys all the time, don’t pick a school because of a coach. Now, I wouldn’t go to a school where I hated the coach, but I wouldn’t pick a school because some assistant coach is there or whatever. People are always going to tell kids that coaches are leaving, that’s just the way it is. You have to be smart.

“I see where kids will say that they really like their assistant coach. But, if he’s making two hundred thousand dollars at university A and somebody offers him a head coaching job making two million dollars at university B, you think he’s going? I don’t care how much he likes you. That’s why you have to look at the school for the right reasons. I think most of those guys do. Very few guys get lulled into only going to a school because a coach is there. Now, when they commit and somebody leaves, then they’ll open up their commitment because it gives them another chance to look again. But, I bet if you go back and look, nine times out of ten they end up going right back with the school they were committed with from the start. Usually they chose that school for reasons outside of who the coach is.”

On if the ever changing coaching landscape makes it difficult to find the right fit at defensive coordinator:

“I don’t know if it’s any different than it’s ever been. I was talking with someone about how quickly things change in the coaching profession. I remember two years ago Mike Leach at Texas Tech was the hottest guy and just like that it’s over. Jim Leavitt was mentioned for every job and what happens to him happened. It changes. It’s the one job that everyone can do better than you and everyone knows what you should do. People are killing Lane Kiffin today for leaving [Tennessee]. You could probably make a case for that, but you know what, if Lane Kiffin won two games next year and got fired, they’d be the same guys screaming that he needs to go.

“Coaching has changed a little bit because of all the accessibility with the internet and talk radio and salaries of everybody. If somebody makes a pretty good salary, then they’re a fair target. Everybody has to have their own deal.”

On how he deals with players now compared to the past:

“I probably deal differently with them now that I’m older. But, honestly, you don’t think about that. What you try to do is try to find a way motivate them to help them play their best and help them grow up and mature and be responsible. With different guys it’s different. Some guys, you have to get in their face a little bit, they’ll respond to that. Other guys if you get in their face and yell at them they’re not worth a dime from then on. You have to try to learn who you’re dealing with and motivate. Are kids different, yeah, they’re different than what they were 10, 15 years ago.”

On trying to keep the momentum going from the last two years into next season, despite losing key players:

“You just build on what you’ve done. I would be really, really stunned if our B-Back next year doesn’t gain at least 1,000 yards. I think he will, they have every year I’ve been coaching and a lot of different guys have played that position through the years. I don’t take anything away from Jonathan [Dwyer], we’re going to miss him, but it will be somebody else’s responsibility to step in there. We have some young guys on defense that will step in and play. Will there be another Derrick Morgan? I don’t know. How many first-round defensive line picks has Georgia Tech had since they’ve been playing? You replace them and move on.

“What you hope to do is have consistency. Maybe instead of a first round pick, maybe you have three third or fourth round picks and there’s more that way. You just keep getting better. The neat thing about college football is every team is different; they change every year. Guys are going to come and go. You enjoy them while they’re playing and you miss them when they’re gone, but you move on. Hopefully we can build on this. That’s what you do when you’re trying to build a program. You build and you see. Can we win 11 games next year? We’ve got a chance to win 14, I guess. That why they play. We’ll find out.”


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