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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 1, 2016



Opening Statement:
“I thought we played really well against Duke in the first half. We hit some big plays offensively and we were able to keep them out of the end zone even though we gave up a ton of yards. The second half got off to a terrible start with a turnover on offense and then fumbling the kickoff return. That put us behind the eight ball and we had a hard time slowing them down after that. Fortunately, we made enough plays to come out and win the game. Anytime you win in the league, it is a good win. Now we get ready to go on the road and play a top-20 team in North Carolina that is very explosive and talented.”

On offensive success against Duke carrying over into this week’s game at North Carolina:
“We have been playing pretty well offensively the past three weeks. I do not look at a lot of stats but Andy (Demetra) pointed out on the radio show last night that we are averaging around 6.5 yards a play, which is pretty good. That is way up from the start of the season, which tells you [that for] the last three or four games, it has been closer to eight or nine yards a play. Hopefully, we can carry that momentum and keep it going into the game [at North Carolina].”

On North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky:
“He does complete a high percentage of his passes. I think that he is very accurate and he knows what he wants to do on offense. The nature of their offense has a lot of check downs, so their quarterbacks are going to complete a high percentage of throws. He is very talented. He has been in the program for a long time and he understands what they are trying to do and knows what he wants to do.”

On Justin Thomas’ ability to create plays:
“It is good when he has an opening. He made a couple plays scrambling in the fourth quarter. On the last one, he saw a crease and took off. The wide receiver that we were going to throw to off of play action was also pretty much wide open on a post-corner. Anytime he can pull the ball down and go with it, it’s great.”

On the most important component of making Georgia Tech’s offense work:
“For us to be successful on offense, we have to run the ball well. That is the bottom line. That is who we are. If you can run the ball successfully, then it opens up the pass game. Just like the long passes to Clinton (Lynch) in the last two home games for touchdowns happened because the defense brought a safety all the way down to the box. They are trying to play man-to-man from a guy standing on the line of scrimmage and that is hard to do. If you can protect the quarterback, there are going to be guys open. If you cannot run the ball, the safety would not be at the line of scrimmage. It is a system and when you are operating correctly and blocking, you have some answers for what people do. I have said before that physical superiority cancels all theories, so if they are whipping you up front, it makes it all look rough. When we run the ball successfully, 280 yards a game and above, then we are pretty good. When you rush for that amount of yardage, they have to start taking chances defensively, which opens up the passing game.”

On what Georgia Tech’s defense needs to do to improve:
“I think that everybody needs to have an idea of what others are doing. You have to limit the mistakes and the alignment errors. If you are still having them this late in the season, you have to cut back on what you are doing. You can have the best plans in the world but if the guys on the field cannot get it, then it is not going to be good. You just have to make plays. The kids on offense made some plays and, defensively, somebody has to bat the ball down or somebody has to get a sack. I can think of two instances on Saturday where plays could have been made. One time, the tight end caught a ball across the middle and Terrell Lewis was draped all over him and just barely missed tipping the ball. There were other times we missed tackles. We had them second-and-16 at one point and they ran a QB draw and we had a guy unblocked, straight to the line of scrimmage, that missed a tackle. When it starts going, it seems like it steamrolls and no one can make a play that gets you off the field. Having said that, we did get a couple fourth-down stops, we got a couple turnovers and, at the end of the game, we got a third-down stop when Antonio (Simmons) tipped the ball. It was not all bad, but we should be able to play better than we played.”

On uncertainties of going on the road for what is only the second true road game of the season:
“I would say [the season opener versus Boston College in] Ireland was a true road game. I do not think of any uncertainties. That has not ever really been an issue here. Sometimes you have a noise factor but, other than that, we do not approach it any differently. We played pretty well at Pitt [on Oct. 8] but came up three points short. Historically, I think we have done pretty well on the road. In 2015, we did not do well on the road but we did not do that good at home either. Some of the places in the league are hard to play at on the road. This week we have to go to Carolina and play and then, next week, we have to go to Blacksburg [to play Virginia Tech]. Blacksburg is crazy to play at. Its loud and a big-time home advantage. You worry about the noise factor but the field is still 100 yards long and you just have to go play.”


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