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Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference

Sept. 27, 2016

Saturday, Oct. 1 • Noon ET • Bobby Dodd Stadium • ESPN2/Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network
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Opening Statement:

“Well, clearly Thursday night last week didn’t go as we would have hoped. I think Clemson has a really good football team, and you couple that with the fact we played about as poorly as you could play, especially offensively, you are not going to get the results you would like to have. The good news is you get to play again in this sport. You get to move onto the next game and we have another game on Saturday against another undefeated and nationally ranked team. We have a chance to see if we can come out and play better than we did on Thursday night.”

On playing good defenses this year, last week the nation’s No. 8-ranked defense in Clemson and this week versus the No. 2-ranked defense in Miami:
“We have played some pretty good defenses this year. Clearly we have to do a better job executing ourselves all the way around and that starts up front, but it involves everybody. We have to do a better job coaching them this week, getting them ready to play.”

On Todd Stansbury being named athletics director at Georgia Tech:
“I had a chance to meet with him briefly last week before he left, and we have kind of known each other in passing. I am excited about him coming. I am sure that he shares (Georgia Tech President) Dr. (G.P. “Bud”) Peterson’s vision for what he wants. He has been here at Georgia Tech, so he knows the place. I am sure he is excited to be here.”

On if Todd Stansbury being back at his alma mater where he played football helps or means anything:
“I think that is a positive. At least he understands what it is about. I look forward to having the chance to sit down and spend some more time with him and to visit with him when he gets here.”

On the offense being predicated on not having negative yards on first and second downs:
“I think any offense would like to not have negative yards. I thought we were making strides offensively. We struggled in the first game versus Boston College, the next game against Mercer we played okay, and then I thought against Vanderbilt we started to put it together and play pretty good. However, last week was a train wreck. We will see how we do this week. Clearly we have got to play better because this is something that is uncharacteristic of what we have been doing since 1985. We have got to play better and coach better.”

On making improvements on offense and reducing the number of negative-yardage plays, how does it breakdown:
“It is a mixture of mental mistakes, missed blocks and missed assignments. You are going to have guys that miss blocks and that is why you play the game. If everybody was perfect on every play, they would all be touchdowns. What I’m talking about is that you can’t have missed assignments on top of playing a good team. We were playing a team that was really physical and good, so they are going to beat your blocks a lot. So you cannot afford to miss a block or turn somebody loose on top of the blocks that they beat … Missing a block is different than missing an assignment. We have got to help coach the techniques and do a better job at blocking the guy … Nobody does it on purpose, but you have to have more poise and you can’t do it, especially against better teams. The nature of what we do, especially when we play a team like Clemson and Miami — they’re very similar — is we have got to out-execute them. We’ve got to out-execute them. We are not going to have better athletes than Clemson. We’re not. But that does not mean you can’t beat them if you go out and execute and play. You are not going to go out there and beat them if you have 25 missed assignments, because you don’t give yourself a chance to execute. In that game Thursday night, the more possessions a team had was not in our favor. Offensively, we were bad. They had 350 yards at halftime. The second half we played much better.”

On if there is a greater chance that when it starts poorly, Georgia Tech players do not clear their heads, forget about that last series and move forward:
“When things do not go well early, it sometimes is panic. I tried to stress to our guys last week at the hotel on Thursday that everybody thinks it’s all (about) these locker room speeches and come out and beat your head into the wall and `Man, I’m fired up’, but you better be poised and execute. All of the pregame stuff is gone after you get hit in the mouth a couple times. You better execute and play. For whatever reason, we even struggle when we play ourselves. At the Saturday morning scrimmages, at times, we have the hardest time of stopping one side when the other gets the jump. It just steamrolled. I think some of that is experience and some of it is like last week … playing a really good opponent.”

On how rare Clemson’s defense is in the high-scoring ACC these days:
“There are two things — Clemson’s defense is very good. Let me tell you how good they are: they were really good a year ago, good enough to get to the national championship game, and two of the guys that started a year ago are backing up (this season). So they’re good. I think that what happens when you look at scores, scores in themselves can be very deceiving. I’ll take a couple of teams in our league — take Syracuse, who tries to play (at) 800 miles per hour. For them to be in a 24-17 game would be like us to be in a 7-3 game because they are getting three times the possession and their defense is also getting three times more series. North Carolina plays that way. So those scores over the long span are going to be more. Common sense will tell you that if I play a game and I get 15-18 possessions in a game, I’m going to score more than if I get 9-12 and the other team will score more against me if they had more than 9-12. You have to decide how you want to play and what will give you the best chance to win … I think we’re a better team when we control the time of possession and play 8-12 possessions or 8-10 because it limits what the other team can do to. But we’ve got to be way more efficient offensively if we are going to do that.”

On facing another good quarterback this week in Miami’s Brad Kaaya:
“He is very, very talented. He is different than Deshaun (Watson) in that he’s not the run threat and they don’t use him in the run game as much. He is more of a prototypical drop-back passer. Not that Deshuan can’t do that, but (Clemson) use(s) him a lot in the run game.

On whether Mark Richt’s knowledge in playing Georgia Tech over the years come into play:
“I have no idea. I think that sometimes that might be overblown a bit too because the guys on the field are going to play. We’ve got some familiarity with them and they got some familiarity with us. We’ll just have to see.”

On how to approach Miami’s defense since defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has not faced any offensive schemes like Georgia Tech:
“You use your best judgement on what they’re going to do. What we try to do offensively — you wouldn’t have known it on Thursday — but we get ready for each (defense) — four-man fronts, three-man fronts, cover two, one high safety — and we just practice against all of it and then we adjust as we play. Historically, through the years, that has been a good way to do it. We don’t just get locked in on `They’re going to do this and then if they’re not that, oh gosh they didn’t line up that way.’ As long as I’ve had reps against all of them, I should know what to do.”


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