Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 13, 2009

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

Opening Statement:

“I was proud of our team Saturday night. It wasn’t always pretty, but I imagine it was a fun one to watch. Our guys fought hard, never gave up and came out in the second half and made some stops when we needed it. We found a way to win a tough football game on the road. Florida State played with a lot of emotion. You have to give our guys some credit for coming out of there with a win.

“This week is a huge game for our team and our program. One of our goals every year is to compete for an ACC championship and we’ve gotten ourselves to the point that this is game is meaningful along those lines. If we win, we have a chance, if we lose we probably have no chance. We’ll find out if we’re good enough on Saturday. Virginia Tech has a very good football team that is strong in all three facets of the game, so it will be a challenge. All you can ask for is an opportunity and we have one. We’ll see if we can get it done on Saturday.”

On importance of game toward ACC Championship Race:

“As far as the conference championship goes, it’s not going to wreck the season one way or another. But, if we want to win our side of the conference, it’s an important game. Anyone that follows the ACC knows that if they [Virginia Tech] comes in here and beat us, they would have to lose two games, probably three, because they would have the tie-breaker over us. It makes it almost impossible for us to win the division. Now, if we beat them, it doesn’t mean we’re going to win the division, we still have a lot of conference games left, so do they. A win gives us a better chance, much more than losing would.”

On how Virginia Tech has improved over the course of the season:

“I think they have come together, they’ve played well. Historically, you know that they’re going to be strong defensively and in special teams. But, offensively they’ve played well, scoring a lot of points and racking up a bunch of yards. They have a very athletic quarterback, their tailback is a great player, they have a veteran offensive line and an experienced tight end and they’re very well coached. They are just a good team and usually good teams get better as the season goes on.”

On Virginia Tech’s defense:

“They’ve played pretty good defense, other than the Alabama game where they got worn down toward the end. They gave up some yards and points to Duke, but if you go back and watch that game, they were never in danger of losing. Duke wasn’t exactly lighting them up when the game was in doubt. Until somebody beats them, you have to give them the respect that they’re due. Since I’ve been here, they’ve been the best team in the league.”

On Josh Nesbitt’s game at Florida State:

“Josh is a competitor, who knows what he is doing. He is a tough kid, who plays hard and has a strong desire to win. Having said that, on Saturday night, our offensive line probably played their best game of the year. We didn’t have any penalties on offense that can bog down a drive, so they helped Josh. Demaryius Thomas made a great catch and block for him. I take nothing away from Josh, he played like a warrior out there. What’s happened is everyone has geared up to stop Jonathan Dwyer. So, Josh has had the ball more and as he continues to have success and hurt people, it will open it more for Jonathan.”

On concerns with Nesbitt carrying the ball over 20 times in each of the last three games:

“We actually don’t call many plays for him [Nesbitt] to run the ball. Some of those carries are a little bit misleading, in that we’ve had a lot of third and fourth and shorts where he’ll sneak the ball three or four times a game. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve realized that you can’t worry about that. I haven’t really thought about it that much.”

On troubles on defense:

“There’s no doubt about it, we have to get better. In my mind, when you play the way we played on Saturday, everyone is accountable. The coaches, the players and I’m accountable because I’m the ultimate guy. I see guys not playing fast and not flying to the ball. I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to, I think there is something holding them back to some degree. We’ve got too many things for them to think about, so we have to just simplify what we are doing and just let them play. But, you’re going to be in games like that. I told the guys at halftime on defense, it’s usually never as bad or as good as you think it is. You have to do the little things right.”

On how injuries have impacted the defense:

“They’ve impacted us just like anything else. Guys are usually starters for a reason; they are better than they guys who are backing them up. So, when you lose starters, it hurts. We’re probably at a little bit of disadvantage from a numbers stand point because we had to give out 80 scholarships compared to 85, which is something we had to do to balance out the class. Trust me, I would love to have five more scholarship guys, but in the broad view of the program, something had to be done to get some balance. But, that’s no excuse, we have to play better. I wouldn’t be more upset if our guys we’re getting run over, but we were using the right technique. If you’re doing all the right things and still getting steamrolled, there’s nothing you can do. But, that’s not the case. There are a lot of things that come into it. Some things we can fix others we probably can’t.”

On if the defense is missing Cooper Taylor:

“Coop is a good player and certainly he would help us. He would give us some more depth at that position as we’ve had to move some guys around. The bottom line is we need to get guys back where they go. You’re asking Rashaad Reid to play safety when he is a corner and he’s not going to play as well there as he will at corner. When you lose pieces, it doesn’t hurt, but we have to put people in the positions they’re comfortable in. If Cooper plays Saturday, it will be in a limited role.”

On depth of other position players on offense:

“All of our A-backs have played well. Embry Peeples has played well, Marcus Wright had a good game, Lucas Cox is playing 11 or 12 snaps for us and doing some good things. That’s one position where we do have some depth. To me, however, it all comes down to execution; I don’t worry about the personnel, we have some people that can play.”

On the strength of the ACC’s Coastal Division over the Atlantic on the year:

“It’s just one of those deals, it ebbs and flows. It just kind of happened that way this year, but there is still a lot of football to be played, who knows. It can change in a week, all the Atlantic teams can beat the Coastal teams this week, you don’t ever know. You’re dealing with 18-to-21 year olds, you don’t know what you’re going to get from one week to the next. Consistency is what everybody chases.”

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