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Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 29, 2013

Opening Statement

“We are excited to be back home this week for homecoming and have a Saturday night game. There’s always a great atmosphere and a lot of electricity in the air when you play on Saturday night here in Atlanta. We have a very formidable opponent coming in here and I have been very impressed watching Pitt on tape. They’ve got some outstanding individual players and they also play very well as a team. We’ve got some things to clean up from the Virginia game. I was proud of our guys in that we overcame some adversity with some self-inflicted wounds such as penalties and turnovers. But we found a way to make enough plays to win the game. That’s what it’s all about. We’re looking forward to getting better this week and having a chance to become bowl eligible on Saturday night.”

On Pitt’s Tyler Boyd…

“Both Tyler Boyd and Devin Street are really good. Street is the all-time leading receiver in school history if I’m not mistaken. And besides Boyd and Street, they have very talented wide receivers. They also have an experienced quarterback who is very accurate if you can’t move him off his spot. And a power running game to go with that.”

On Pitt playing Navy last week…

“It’s good for us to look at having not played them. If I’d had my rathers, I would have rathered them not played Navy. It probably benefits them a little more to get the speed of the offense. And that had to be a disappointing loss for them. They pretty much controlled the whole game, but to Navy’s credit they found a way to score 10 points in the last six minutes. They got one touchdown off of a free play where it bounced off one receiver and into another’s hands who ran it in. It was a hard fought, physical game. It’ll give them a chance to see what they liked about it and what they didn’t; what they want to add and what they throw out.”

On the play of Emmanuel Dieke and Jeremiah Attaochu…

“We hope that they can provide some pressure and play well. Attaochu had somewhere around seven quarterback pressures and two sacks. And Dieke played his best game since he’s been here. Both of those guys gave that freshman tackle from Virginia a hard time. Hopefully they can continue to play hard and create some havoc and pressure for us against Savage. Like I said, he’s very accurate if he has time.”

On defending Virginia’s passing game…

“The bottom line is the points. It’s all about how many points you give up. Considering that we turned the ball over five times and gave them all sorts of chances with penalties, we were pleased that we only gave up as many points as we did. There are things that we need to do better, but if you’re not giving up big plays you usually have a chance. It’s hard for people to beat you by throwing three or four yard passes in the flats. They are going to need to have a lot of those. It’s those down the field and explosion plays that’ll kill you.”

On Pitt’s defensive ends…

“Well [Aaron] Donald is the three technique. He plays on the inside tackle and he’s probably an All-American player. I’d say he’s as good as anybody we’ve played all year. The other player who has really impressed me is their middle linebacker #44 [Shane Gordon].

Who has Tech played that matches Pitt offensively…

“Syracuse maybe. They are probably closer to Pitt than anyone else we’ve played. But even then they are different. Pitt mixes a power running game with a pro-style passing attack is how I would categorize it.”

On Zach Laskey’s emergence…

“Both of the B-backs have been productive each of the past two weeks. David [Sims] had two scores last week as well as Zach. Zach’s running the ball well. His vision is good and he’s breaking tackles, but we have to work on the other things so we can make him a complete player. He has the ability to do that, but right now he is running the ball better than he has all year.”

On how the triple option has been run this season…

“It’s been hot and cold. I thought we were getting better at it. We did ok the first series. We ran two of three plays and we handled it ok. We only ran it the one time in the second half and we got the ball pitched for about an eight or 10 yard gain, but there were other things we could do and it didn’t look as smooth to me. I didn’t want to put the ball on the ground again. We just got away from it. Not so much anything they did. We didn’t really have to do it.”

On DeAndre Smelter’s play…

“He’s made some big plays. The third down play Saturday was a nice catch by him. He’s a good athlete and a good player. I think he is getting better and he’s getting assignment better. He struggled with that early. It’s just getting back in the groove. He’s a talented guy and I think he’s going to do nothing but get better the more he plays. He’s got a lot of tools, and the longer he plays, the more he’s out there, the better he is going to get.”

On Vad Lee making big plays…

“I think you gain confidence when you make plays. The third down throw to me was impressive. Vad’s a confident guy. He’s had a lot of success in his career, so he’s pretty confident. He can be his own worst enemy sometimes in the running game, because he second-guesses himself and he thinks too much. That’s not as natural as dropping back and winging it. Good quarterbacks don’t have much conscience when they go back to wing it. He doesn’t have any problem with confidence that way. I think it’s just experience. The more you play the better you get. Certainly that has to help him and it helps his teammates be confident in him when that time comes; that he is going to deliver for them and make a play.”

On Robert Godhigh’s knack for making big plays…

“I think Robbie is just a good solid football player. He likes to play the game. He’s not a burner, but he’s fast enough. He’s compact so he’s hard to tackle. He’s got good hands. He catches the ball when it’s near him most of the time. We thought he was a good player in high school; you just question his size and speed, and could he transition to the next level. He had a couple scholarship offers to some I-AA schools.  But he felt like he could play on this level. So he wanted to prove to people that he could play, and I think he came in with a chip on his shoulder and that probably helped him. By the second year he was here it became apparent that he can play and help win games, so he earned himself a scholarship, then last year he earned himself a starting spot at times opposite Orwin [Smith]. Last year Orwin was more a big play guy. This year Robbie is the senior and it’s kind of fallen to him. He’s the guy who’s had the ball in that opportunity and made some big plays.”

On Micheal Summers’ play…
“I think Mike is getting better. He sometimes he’s got to stay focused and dialed in. We are happy with Mike and excited about what he’s done. For a redshirt freshman, he has come in and started and played. I’ll say this for him. He’s not shy. He’ll throw it up in there. He tries to block. He’s had an opportunity to make some plays at times and for the most part, made them when he has had that opportunity. He’s like DeAndre [Smelter], the more he plays, he is going to continue to get better and better too.”

On the play of Jemea Thomas…
“He’s just a really good football player. Jemea would be a good player if he was playing A-back. He ran quarterback on the scout team out there in the past one time. He’s a good athlete and a good player. He just loves to play. He gives the defense flexibility because he can move around. He makes a lot of plays. Probably his biggest tool that’s also his biggest disadvantage is his eyes sometimes. He can feel things and he sees things and he makes a lot of plays. Sometimes it gets him in trouble. He is a good football player. You would love to have a bunch of Jemea Thomases running around. Football is important to him. He loves the game. He likes to compete. He is a heck of a competitor.”

On low passing numbers …
“Let me tell you how I go into the game every week. It’s the same every week. I go into the game trying to win. Whatever it takes to win the game, that’s what I’m going to do. If we are running the ball for 400 yards, we are probably not going to throw it as much. If we are running it for 200 yards then we are probably going to have to throw it more. If you look, the three games that we have thrown the ball over 20 times, I think we have lost all three of them.”

“If we are more efficient in the game throwing and completing a bunch of them, and protecting, then you are going to keep calling them. It’s like anything else. You are going to do what’s working. Truthfully, the last two weeks, the both secondary’s have really never been involved that much in stopping the run game for whatever reason, whether they just didn’t want to get involved. We were successful. We averaged about six or seven yards a rush. There wasn’t any use to say well we are going to throw it.”

“Now, Saturday when they packed everybody up there to stop the run, we saw what happens when the secondary gets involved and the corner runs across the line. We were able to hit the A-back on play action and do some of that.”

“The other thing that has happened is with the nature of what we do, when you are in third and short, and to me third and four or less is short, I have two plays to get it. I like my odds pretty well if I run the ball twice. It depends on where the ball is or whatever. It is a different game than the NFL game where you watch them and third and two is a passing down. For us, can we throw it on third and two? Yeah and we’ll break a Tennessee once and a while. We are looking to hit a homerun and then probably come back and go for it on fourth down if we do that. You look out there and try and see what they are doing and what you think gives your guys the best chance. You have to do what your guys can do.”

On cross-training offensive linemen…

“It seems like it has been a numbers problem for a while. Morgan Bailey has just been unlucky. He hardly has played at all. Then we lost Ray Beno and we lost Freddie Burden and Errin Joe before the season. We lost about five or six scholarship guys really before we ever got started. We have been fortunate that Will (Jackson) has played a lot. He has played both positions. Shaquille (Mason) is a smart guy. If need be, he could do that. Really, (Jay) Finch could do that if he had to. He’s played a lot and you wouldn’t want to move him. He can play guard or tackle. He did early in his career. There is a little flexibility in there but you want to keep them as healthy as you can. We have tried to get Nick Brigham, he’s played both. Morgan Bailey is lined up at both when he’s practiced. You try to get it when you have eight or nine guys that are interchangeable. That way, you can get through. Like I said, we weren’t opposed to playing Shamire (Devine) and those guys, but he got hurt and had to have some minor surgery. That set him way back.”

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