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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference: Game 11

Nov. 21, 2017



Opening statement:
“Clearly we were disappointed in the way we performed last Saturday, I think both coaching and playing on the field. Not to take anything away from Duke, I thought they played extremely well. But our performance left a little to be desired. So, the great news is we’ve got a chance to play again this week against a very formidable opponent. I think the University of Georgia probably, if they’re not the best team they’ve had since I’ve been here in my 10 years, it’s probably one of the two best teams for sure. It’ll be a huge challenge for us to see if we can’t clean up our mess from a week ago and play an opponent that’s very, very talented and playing very well right now.”

On Georgia QB Jake Fromm:
“I think the thing that’s most impressive, from the little bit that I’ve been able to follow with them, is everybody talks about that ‘that guy’s the guy who struggles’ and ‘he’s the weak link,’ but when I watch the tape, I see anything but that. I think the guy’s really accurate and I think he runs their system well. Now, he’s blessed that he’s surrounded by a bunch of really good players, but he carries his own weight. He performs at a really high level, I think.”

On whether his team has been harder to figure out than in the years past:
“This has been a screwy season. I mean, right from the start just with the way it unfolded. The first game unfolded [double-overtime loss to Tennessee] and then we had the cancellation [of a scheduled game at UCF due to the effects of Hurricane Irma]. I don’t think we ever really got much going or any momentum. Our 2015 season when everyone was hurt, I don’t think we won a road game, but in my career of 21 years, I’ve never had a season other than that where you didn’t win a road game. In fact, a year ago, we finished up the year winning at Virginia Tech and at Georgia – a bunch of hard places to play. But we have not played very well on the road this year. When you think about it, we gave up a lot of points on the road.”

On his sense of the team this year:
“I’m disappointed in our results. I think that we had a chance to have a really special year and we had a chance to be OK. We put our self in a little bit of a hole. If we can find a way to win on Saturday and then go win a bowl game, you salvage a little bit of the season. But certainly when we started out, we didn’t plan to be 5-5 right now.”

On whether there is anything right now that he knows he’ll do different next year:
“I think you do that every year. You sit back and evaluate and see where you are, and see what you can get better at. And there’s a lot we can get better at.”

On his message to the team this week:
“It’s like I told them on Monday, this is a game that you’ll remember for a long time, especially if you win. It’s really important to our players, to our alumni, to people in general, that you play well. You’ve got to go out and play with some intensity and try to play your best game. I mean, that’s what this game is about. This should be why you come to play college football – games like this. If somebody has to fire you up for this one, you probably shouldn’t be playing.”

On whether it’s easier to flush a bad loss because of the rivalry game this week:
“I don’t know. I think for me personally, I don’t remember the wins very long. I mean, they’re gone. The losses are the ones that hang with me. Now, when the game starts on Saturday, that won’t be on my mind. I talk to the team every Monday – you’ve got to flush last week’s game and get ready for this game. Just because it’s Georgia, I don’t know that it changes. In my mind, I’ve got a pretty good recollection of every game I’ve lost. I couldn’t tell you about half the ones we’ve won.”

On whether it’s a clean the slate for the players this week:
“It’s a clean slate every week. You go into film on Monday and whether you win or lose, you’re into another gameplan, you’re into the next week. You have to move forward.”

On Georgia Tech’s senior class:
“It’s been up and down. They were part of that 2015 team – I’ve never been a part of anything like that with so many guys getting hurt. And then we came back last year. So if you go, ’14, they won the Orange Bowl and won 11 games; ’15, they were a part of that crazy season; last year, we fought back and won nine games and a bowl game; and this year, we’re sitting at 5-5. So they’ve seen all of it. With a win on Saturday, these seniors could go out 3-for-4 [against Georgia], which is pretty good for here.”

On what stands out about Georgia:
“I think, defensively, just their athleticism and size. They do a good job, they’ve got a good scheme and they understand it. They know what they’re doing on offense, they’re well-coached. They’ve got some really good players. That’s the big thing: they’re physical in size. Offensively, they’ve kind of gotten back more toward an identity of ‘pound you’ and playing physical and run the ball. They’ve got some really good backs and their offensive line is much better than a year ago, I think. So, they’re pretty good at their craft. Everybody can say you’ve got to stop the run … but you’ve still got to do it and not many people have been able to.”

On QB Matthew Jordan’s decision to forego his final season of eligibility:
“Matthew is a great person. He’s very mature. When he hurt the same foot again [on Oct. 28 vs. Clemson], he came in and talked. He’s already got his [bachelor’s] degree and has some opportunities. We talked, and he wants to walk with his grandkids. Sometimes it’s time to quit and he’s mature enough and sees that. He’ll be very successful in whatever he does because he’s got that personality and that type of drive about him. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s always accepted his role; he’s been a team player and a real positive guy. He’s been a real pleasure to have in the program.”

On how close recent games versus Georgia have been:
“Other than the one year here that they were really good [2012], the games have been pretty close. I think that’s indicative of a rivalry game. I couldn’t tell you why other than it’s a rivalry game and both teams want to play and it’s a big deal. I think, historically, if you look at most of the games, since we’ve been here, have been close. We haven’t played in a lot of blowout games. Last Saturday was kind of different than most of the games we’ve played. Even when we’ve lost, they’ve been one-score, two-score games and you usually had a chance. This game has been kind of that way for at least eight of the [last] nine years anyway.”


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