Aug. 25, 2008
Paul Johnson Press Conference Quotes
“I’m excited game week is finally here. I’m looking forward to it. I just had A.J. Smith up in my office and he was talking about how excited all the players were to finally get to play somebody else. To put all the hard work we put in at practice and in camp to use, it should be an exciting and fun time. I know it will be for me and I think for all the players when we run out on the field Thursday and finally have a chance to play.”
On his anticipating the game
“My nature is that if something isn’t exactly perfect I’m going to find fault with it, and the expectation level is going to be set at a high standard. I’m always going to find the things we do not up to standard. There are going to be some things that happen Thursday night that don’t happen exactly the way I want I’m sure, but I’m always the type that I don’t ever satisfy until it’s exactly the way I want it. I feel good where we are – we have a couple of days to polish the game plan but I think our team will be ready to play.”
On how quickly he got to those expectations at Navy and Georgia Southern in terms of offense
“I don’t know if I ever got it exactly where I wanted it to be. If you look back to last year at the Academy there were times where we would score over 50 points in a game and you could still get better and find fault. Until you play that perfect game you’re probably not going to get to those expectations but I think we have made a lot of progress. Whether we can carry it from the practice field to the game field we will see. That’s why you play the games, but I know we are a much better football team now then we were in the Spring.”
Is it a different challenge to install a new system here at Tech as opposed to inheriting one while at Georgia Southern and Navy?
“It’s different everywhere. When I left Georgia Southern and went to Hawai’i, they had no base so I started from scratch there. When I went to the Naval Academy in ’95 they had no base so we were starting from scratch there. When I got back to Georgia Southern as a head coach in ’97 a lot of things had changed. There were some of the base remnants and I think what happens sometimes is when people line up in the double-slot or I-formation people assume that is what they are doing and that’s not always the case. When I took the head job at Navy, the year before they had been in the gun half the time. They were doing a lot of stuff so its been my experience that when you transition, a lot of it has to do with how quickly you can pick it up. But a lot of it also has to with the experience coming back, the athletes your playing with, and where your starting from so each one of them has been different.”
On whether he gets the butterflies before the first game of the season, factoring in that he is starting at a new program?
“I get butterflies before every game. I think if you don’t, you better get out of the business. There is a lot of time, effort and work put into it. It’s like I tell the team all the time, getting ready for the game is hard work, the game should be fun. That’s where you prepared and got yourself ready to go. You should enjoy it, that should be the fun part of it and anyone that completes love to play. I enjoy the chess match of the game – that’s one of the fun things of coaching so I’m always looking forward to that every time we have the chance to play someone else.”
On whether playing more than one quarterback is routine for him
“Not really. We’ve had years where we played a couple of guys and years where one guy was the guy. Jaybo Shaw is clearly going to play this year. We aren’t going to redshirt him so in my take, when you are going to do that, he has earned a couple of series in the game and we will figure out when we are going to put him in. I think that he is good enough to help us win the game so we are going to get him in there and see what he does under fire.”
On whether the extra attention on the offense will help the defense relax a little bit
“You guys [the media] are the ones focusing all the attention on offense, but I can promise you my focus is just as much on the other side. I’m scared to death in the secondary, at linebacker and places where we’ve got all the young guys. It’s not like we have done anything there either. Nobody knows about this football team because they haven’t played a game. Who knows what will happen. We may go out there Thursday night and it might be 3-0. It also might be 46-43. And then all of a sudden all the push will be the other way, and that might not necessarily be true. As a coach you worry about everything. On the defensive line, I’m pretty sure I have seen those guys play and they are older so you kind of know what you are going to get there. Everywhere else, we have new guys playing. A lot of these guys have never really played when the game was seriously in doubt other than a few plays to give somebody a blow or whatever, so you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
On if he’ll play several guys if the game gets out of hand
“I don’t know, I’m just going to try to win the game. Having coached on that level, I know how excited those guys are going to be to play. You’re going to have part of the team, like Perrilloux or the starting tailback that was at Alabama or some of the other guys, that have played in front of big crowds and the other part of the team will come in with a chip on their shoulder because they may not have been recruited by some of the bigger schools. They have a point to prove – they are going to prove that the rest of [the schools] messed up because `I’m better than that guy and you should have taken me.’ So we have to be ready to play from an effort standpoint because I’m sure that they are going to come in here and play hard.”
On if he’s going to be rotating AJ Smith and Cord Howard at the left guard position.
“We’ll see how it goes. We’ll probably rotate three guards. I generally like to play three tackles and three guards and just rotate until we find the combination of the three guys that we feel like are better players and they will get most of the reps. I’m not a big substitution guy. Every time I look up, I don’t want to see four guys running in and three guys running out. If we’re going to tire them out, let’s tire them out playing – not running in and out.”
What did you hope to get out of the Georgia Southern – Georgia game when you were coaching that game?
“I hoped to beat Georgia. We went into that game and we weren’t intimidated by them when I was there. We saw it as an opportunity to go up there and try to win the game. Just like I said, a lot of our guys that were playing viewed it as a `let’s show that we should have played here, that we got overlooked or whatever.’ So I think people that think there is the intimidation factor and awe of some sort – when you’re at the other school, it doesn’t work like that. I promise you, they are coming in with the mindset that they are going to win that game and you have to break their will a little bit.”
On the kicking game, specifically the field goal kickers
“I feel good. We haven’t missed one yet. It could change on Thursday, but I think that Scott Blair has a strong leg and again he hasn’t kicked one in a game so you really don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of guys that were good in practice, and vice versa – I’ve seen guys that weren’t as consistent in practice but come game-time they didn’t miss many. So until you actually see them do it – does he have the ability? Yes. Am I confident in him to try field goals? Yes, until he proves otherwise. That’s the one big part that nobody has talked about that as a football coach I find ironic – the kicking game here. Everyone wants to talk about the offense or whatever, but the kicking game, to me, is the hardest thing that we have to replace. Durant Brooks was a pretty good punter and if you go back and look at the tape, he helped the defense a ton. The defensive numbers wouldn’t be the same without him. [Travis Bell] was pretty good too, and those are two really good guys that you have to replace.”
On kickoff coverage and if it’s practiced a lot
“We work on special teams every day. We’ll concentrate on it the next two days before we play because it’s a very big part of the game. There are very few plays of the game with as big a change in field position as on a kicking play. So it’s something that we work on.”
On how Tony Clark was discovered as a kick returner
“He asked to return them, and Tony has good speed and went back there and has been returning them. We probably have the two biggest kick returners in the country in him and Jonathan Dwyer and hopefully whichever one catches it has the other one to get a good block since they are both over 200 pounds. But they both have good speed and both of those guys can take it and go north and south.”