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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 15, 2016



Opening Statement:
“I was really pleased with the effort of our team last Saturday [at Virginia Tech]. We had a lot of people out with injuries, especially offensively. The kids responded, stepped up and played. I was proud of Matthew Jordan and the young offensive linemen that had to play. Defensively, we got some big plays, got some turnovers and got some sacks which helped contribute to what was a good upset win for us in Blacksburg.”

On if the home team has an advantage in the series with Virginia:
“I guess they do. I think we have lost to them maybe three times since I have been here, once at home and twice up there. It has been usually close games. In the past, the two teams have just played close games, which is the nature of our league.”

On Georgia Tech’s seniors:
“We do not have many seniors on our team. You develop relationships with those guys and you get close with them. They have won a lot of big games here. They were a part of the team that finished seventh in the country and won the Orange Bowl and they have been in a couple ACC Championship games, so they have seen a lot of football here. Anytime you get to the end of it, it gets kind of emotional for a coach out there on the field. When they come out with their parents for the ceremony, you realize it is the last time. From the time you started recruiting them until now, you have spent what is for the most part five years with them. It is kind of bittersweet, it is neat to see them move on and hopefully be successful outside of football for most of them.”

On senior OL Michael Muns:
“He is the epitome of a team player. Whatever we have asked him to do – he has fought through injuries, he goes out to practice and gives his best. I think this past offseason, he took it upon himself to help Shamire [Devine] with the weight and he kind of shadowed him with walking and everything. For a walk-on that does not get to play, he actually got quite a few votes for captain.”

On not overlooking Virginia:
“We talked a lot about it yesterday. Not dealing with overlooking them, but saying they are a lot better than their record. They have had a real issue with turning the ball over but if you watch the tape, you will see they have been in every game. Even the game with Miami (last Saturday), it was 17-14 late in the first half. Every game has been like that. We have to get ready to play our best game. I try to caution our guys not to worry about the other team, but to focus on us. We have yet to play our best game on offense, defense and special teams all together, so that is the goal. We have talked about how we can get to .500 in the conference. Prior to last year, I do not think we have had a losing record in the league. That is certainly important to me and I hope it is to them. Positioning yourself for whatever bowl game you play and trying to get as many wins as you can. You have to get seven before you can get eight. There is a lot for us to play for. It is Senior Day and I am sure UVA is going to come in here and play their best game.”

On striving for more wins despite already being bowl-eligible:
“I do not think anybody on our team wanted to go to 6-6 when the season started. You have goals and you try to play for them. My job is [that] when it looks like those initial goals are gone, to find a carrot to stick in front of them to say ‘Here is what we are trying to do now.’ You start out 1-3 in the league, they can figure out that you probably aren’t going to win your division, so you keep playing until you are mathematically eliminated. My mantra was we still have a chance, and honestly, had we gone to Chapel Hill and won, we would still have a chance. That went by the wayside, so my next thing was bowl eligibility, winning season, get to nine. I told our team since that point that we have a chance to get to nine wins, which to the best of my recollection in the past 50 years, it has happened [about] eight times [at Georgia Tech]. It is something special. If you can get to nine wins, it is a pretty successful season. Now you did not get your goals, but if you look at it realistically, you have to say that is a pretty good year. Every team when the season starts has a goal to win their conference and play in the playoffs but there are 124 that fall short.”

On third downs:
“We were little better last week [on defense]. They were still [6] of 14, so we still weren’t good. What we did do was we got a fourth-down stop and we got some turnovers, so we got off the field that way. They lost the possession on fumbling the kickoff return, so we got off the field and we gave the offense some good field position a week ago. If you can do that, it’s not as magnified, but it’s still an issue. We’ve been really good offensively on third down [but] last week we weren’t really good on third down on offense – we created ourselves too many third-and-longs with penalties. We stopped four drives with motion penalties and while it’s tough to hear up there and that’s a tough place to play, that’s unacceptable. You can’t do that and survive. But third down is still a big deal.”

On if the win over Virginia Tech helps make preparing for Virginia easier:
“You hope that they’ve got some confidence and some juice, some energy. The way the game started was perfect for it because we got a couple turnovers, we got a hit, we made some big plays on defense, so we got a little juice going. Hopefully you can carry it over. I’m sure they were tired of hearing it.”

On Virginia’s defense:
“I think it’s a whole different deal this year. It’s a different coaching staff. [UVA head coach] Bronco [Mendenhall] historically has always been good defensively. They’ve got the two leading tacklers in the league, if I’m not mistaken, in [Micah] Kiser, the linebacker, and [Quin] Blanding, the safety. The safety may very well be one of the best defensive players in the league, if not the best. They’ve got some good players on defense and, like I said, they’ve played pretty good until they just kind of kill themselves with turnovers. I fully expect they’re going to come in here and have a good plan. I fully expect us to go out there with a good plan and we’ll see. We’ll have to adjust and go off what’s happening in the thing. We have played BYU a couple of times, so both teams probably have some idea of what is going to happen on that side of the ball. And really it’s the same. Robert [Anae] and I; he’s the offensive coordinator on the other side and was at BYU as well. It’s not like we haven’t played each other.”


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