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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 8, 2016



Opening Statement:
“Clearly the North Carolina game wasn’t what we had hoped for. We certainly expect and would like to play better than we did in that game, especially defensively. We put that behind us, try to learn from it, move on and get ready to play a really good Virginia Tech team on the road Saturday. I think Blacksburg is probably one of the tougher places to play in our league. They’re always really physical on defense and have a lot of good athletes. Their quarterback is playing at a really high level, they’ve got a good running back, good receivers and it will be a stiff challenge for us up there on the road.”

On Virginia Tech’s defense:
“They’re really athletic on defense. The kid, No. 60 [Woody Baron] is all over the place when you turn the tape on him. He’s a heck of a player and he’s been playing for I think three years now and I think he’s playing his best football by far. The other kid [Ken Ekanem] that has been playing defensive end, he’s played a lot. They’re very talented on defense, they’ve got a couple of probable NFL prospects at linebacker and they’re usually pretty good in the secondary.”

On what makes Virginia Tech’s defense effective:
“I think they’re really physical, around the ball they create a lot of negative plays. Historically, they’ve created a lot of turnovers, a lot of sacks, a lot of shortage plays. When you do that, they create a lot of field position and a lot of opportunities for their offense.”

On Virginia Tech’s defensive identity:
“They’re very aggressive and they’ve got good players. I think Bud [Foster] does a very good job; he has been doing it for a long time. They are who they are, they’ve got an identity and that’s the way they play.”

On one thing that could help the Georgia Tech defense:
“To get off the field on third down. It creates almost all the problems. Not all of them, but it would solve a lot if we could get off the field on third down.”

On why Georgia Tech is not getting off the field on third down consistently:
“The issues are we’re not making any plays and what we’re doing is not working. So we’ve got to look to do something else on third downs.”

On Georgia Tech’s pass rush:
“There were plenty of times in the North Carolina game that we sent five [on pass rush], there were times we sent six. You also got to give the other team credit sometimes, if they’re pretty good and you send six, they get [the ball] out fast. It comes back to what you’re talking about, you’ve got to cover a little better. You’ve just got to tie it all together. You’ve got to know when you’ve got six or seven blitzing, that it’s going to come out faster hopefully. If you’ve only got four rushing, it’s not going to come out as fast most of the time. We’ve gotten as good pressure defensively, if you break it down and look at it, we can get as good pressure when we send three as when we send four or five. It just seems to be that’s kind of the way that’s been.”

On how Georgia Tech’s defense can bounce back:
“I think here is what has to happen – no matter what sport you play or what you’re doing or anything else, when a game like that happens and you play that poorly, you have to be able to look at the tape and you have to say, ‘I know why this happened. It was because my eyes were in the wrong place.’ Where you run into problems is if a guy comes out and he doesn’t know why it happened. He’s thinking, ‘Man, I’m doing what they’re asking me to do and this isn’t working.’ This is where you run into problems. I think as long as kids or people or players or whatever can look at the tape and see what should be happening and then, with a modicum [of thought can say] ‘I could do that, I just didn’t. If I’m supposed to have my eyes, if I’m supposed to be three technique on the guard and I’m getting reached by the center, then I’m not looking at the guard. My eyes are in the backfield or whatever.’ That doesn’t have anything to do with physical ability always, it has to do with leverage and we’ve got to coach them. If they’re not getting it done, we’ve got to coach them better.”

On what he’s heard from defensive student-athletes following last two games:
“You talk to them as much as I do. I don’t think you’re going to hear one of those kids on defense say, ‘I don’t know what’s happening. I’m doing what they’re asking me to do and it just doesn’t seem to work.’ Because when you can look at the tape – I go back, most of my background has been offensive for the last 30 years but I coached defense too – but that’s why I like our offense so much. It’s pretty simple, you turn the tape on, they can see why it didn’t work. There isn’t any debate. If I’ve got the linebacker and the linebacker is making the tackle, there’s not any debate. I know what happened. Now if I’m the offensive tackle and you’re telling me to go block the linebacker and the guy is holding me or squeezing me and I can’t get off the line, then I’m going to be frustrated and I’m going to come in on Monday and I’m going to watch the tape and go, ‘Man, you are asking me to do something that’s impossible. I can’t get that guy with this guy holding me.’ That’s when the frustration comes in. Now, when I’m supposed to cover you and you beat me and get open, if I’ve got you then I’ve got to look within and I’ve got to say, ‘Okay, do I [have] to come up and press or try to knock you off your route or do I lay back if you’re running by me and I’ve got to back up?’ The problem is if some guy runs out on the flat and catches the ball and you don’t know who’s got him. When you get in there on film and the coach can’t tell you what happened. ‘Coach, Who’s got him?’ ‘Good question. I don’t know.’ Then you’ve got problems. I watch the tape repeatedly, over and over and I’ll watch it with the defensive coaches and I understand what’s happening. Now is someone going to make the perfect call every time? No. Just like I don’t make the perfect call on offense every time. As long as it’s sound and you have a chance to execute it, that’s all you can ask for. [Opponents have] coaches that get paid too. They’re trying to make the perfect call on their side. So if I’m the offensive guy and I’m thinking you’re sending seven, I’m not going to stand back there and hold the ball, I’m going to get it out quick and throw a three-step or checks or whatever. Some of that comes into play too. I don’t think that we have those problems. I’ve had those before, where the kids would come and say, ‘Coach, you’ve got to help us.’ That is not the issue. We’re not having those problems. We’ve just got to play better.”

On Virginia Tech’s offense:
“It’s different from what they’ve done. They’re very similar to North Carolina in a lot of facets, a lot of the same plays. All those teams anymore, for lack of a better term, I call it the ‘NCAA offense’ [that] the majority of teams run. {Shot]gun stuff, zone reads, quarterback powers, bubble screens, all the stuff all the teams run.”


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