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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference: Game 9

Nov. 7, 2017



Opening statement:
“We’re really disappointed in last week’s game. I thought that we had a lot of opportunities to win the game. We have to give the other team a lot of credit. They made plays in the end where they needed to make plays. But it’s disappointing. I think we can play better than that and it’s our job as coaches to make sure that we do. This week we’ve got a bigger challenge, a huge challenge in Virginia Tech. Historically, it’s a really good program and it’s no different this year. They’ve got some really good players and they come in here I think 7-2 and ranked and it’s a game we need to win.”

On Virginia Tech’s special teams:
“I think they’re good. It’ll be important that we improve drastically in those two areas (kicking and receiving). I thought that we did okay on punts, we didn’t have a great day punting the day at Virginia. [Pressley Harvey III has] been punting the ball well all year, but it wasn’t one of his better days. The kickoff coverage was abysmal, call it what it was.”

On whether there’s anything that can be taken from last year’s late-season surge:
“I think every game is different. We’ve lost to two teams that will probably be ranked in the top six. The last game we lost was disappointing and the first game we lost was disappointing. We had a chance to win all three. I mean we should be – and it’s woulda, shoulda, coulda, nobody cares – but you could make a case that we should be sitting here 7-1 and ranked but we’re not. We didn’t make the plays. So nobody feels sorry for you, you’ve got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and play better.”

On whether there is a consistency in missed assignments this season:
“I’d say everybody. We’re not doing a real good job as coaches communicating when you have that many. It’s frustrating. A lot of it is basic stuff.”

On how Bruce Jordan-Swilling’s performance at Virginia:
“I think he was really productive. He had a lot of tackles, had the interception for a touchdown, a caused fumble, a recovered fumble. At times, having not played much, he gets overwhelmed and lined up wrong but he was productive. I was proud of him, I thought he did well for a guy who didn’t have a lot of experience.”

On whether the approach changes as the team, psychology-wise, week-by-week or if it’s the same after a loss, win, etc.:
“I think you have to kind of see where they are. But you also get to a point where they need to be accountable. Everybody is accountable. I’m ultimately accountable and it flows downhill. So, with responsibilities, with assignments, with schemes, with whatever, we’re all accountable. And that’s what my job is, to make sure, it all comes back to me. But everybody has to do their part and you adjust accordingly. I’m frustrated, I’m sure they’re frustrated. So it’s an even match.”

On how he keeps coaches’ and players’ frustration from carrying over to practice and games, etc.:
“I don’t know. As a head coach, I don’t have as much direct contact with them as the assistants do. But I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t voice my displeasure when things aren’t well. And I think they know me well enough to know that I don’t let too much stuff go like that, I’ll call it out if it’s bad. And if you can’t take that, you probably won’t make it. But that’s life, isn’t it? If you don’t learn to deal with a little adversity, you won’t make it very far.”

On how he’s seen TaQuon Marshall adjust to his growing pains and the ups and downs this season:
“I think TaQuon has been really good in the running game. He’s had the unfortunate misfortune of all three of the games we’ve had to really throw the ball or come from behind have been less than ideal weather conditions. And I think we can do better there. I think he’d be the first guy to tell you that. But I also realize that it wasn’t the easiest conditions. But he’s done well, he’s one of our best players. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

On Virginia Tech’s defense:
“They’re good. They’ve got good players. Bud does a good job. I think they’ve given up 13 points a game and are leading the conference in total defense. They’re always really good defensively, creating a lot of negative plays. I think the thing that is impressive to me as anything when you watch them play, there are very few things that go uncontested. Even in short passes or whatever. Sometimes with zone coverage, other teams will – they don’t give you anything. They’re in your face from the start and going full bore.”

On Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster:
I think it makes it a challenge and he’s definitely a challenging guy. We were talking this morning and the things that you have success with one year, you can count on they’re going to be taken away the next. You figure how they’re going to counter and it’s like any game, you have to be able to adjust on the fly. If you can’t adjust on the fly, you get behind the 8-ball.

On whether the team has the talent and ability to win its final four games like last year:
“Sure, if we play well. Any team has the ability to win out. That’s why you play the game.”

On Virginia Tech’s offense and quarterback Josh Jackson:
“They started out balls of fire. But he’s played well. He knows what they want to do, he’s a good run-pass guy. They’ve got [Cam Phillips], who’s probably a next-level receiver. [Travon] McMillian played a lot at running back. You look at the offensive line, they’ve got three I recognize as being starters for a while. They’ve got some pieces and they handle him really well. They’re really good on special teams and really good on defense so they don’t have to score every time. They can take their time and give him opportunities to do things. And I think he’s a really tough kid, you can tell he comes from a football background. I got a lot of respect for him. He took some kind of beating in that last game and he got up every time and kept coming back so you know he is a tough guy. There’s no question about his toughness.”

On what he’d like to see improve this week on defense:
“It’s kind of the same stuff. We struggle with tackles for loss, we struggle with sacks, we struggle with negative plays and turnovers. We’re better on third downs than we’ve been in a while and up until last week, we’d been better about giving up big plays. But I think it’s hard, in this day and age, to play defense when you don’t get negative plays. You’ve got to get some sacks and you’ve got to get some negative plays. Otherwise, it’s hard.”


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