Sept. 16, 2008
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference
September 16, 2008
Introduction “I’m going to start out talking a little bit about Virginia Tech. It was a tough, hard- fought game. I’m disappointed we didn’t come out on the right end of it. Quite honestly, I just don’t think we made enough plays when we had to. We had some chances, really in all three phases of the game, but we didn’t make them when we had to. I was proud of the effort, but we are not going to settle for the result. We were playing without some guys. I was proud of the way some of the young guys came out and fought. We just need to find a way to make enough plays to win the game.
“Looking at Mississippi State, they are a physical, fast, aggressive football team. They are really good defensively. They have a great punter. They are pretty good at the kicking game. Offensively, they have some good skill guys- the tailback is a good player. Actually, both of them are good players. They have a really good wide receiver. They have weapons and will be a challenge for us so we have to continue to get better. Defensively, they are probably the best team we have played.”
Mississippi state is currently allowing three yards per rush. Is that reflective of how good they are?
“That is pretty impressive. I think they have given up three touchdowns this year: one was a nine-yard drive and the other was a 12 yard drive against Louisiana Tech off of a turnover. They also gave up one to Southeast Louisiana when the game was over. They are very good on defense. I think sometimes their offense gets overlooked a little bit, because they do have good skill guys – they have good personnel. They just haven’t put it together yet, and hopefully they will wait a week.”
With the turnover problem you’ve had the past couple of weeks, what have you seen from film? Is ball security still the problem?
“When you turn the ball over, it is usually from different things. If I go back and break down last week’s game, a guy put a helmet right on the ball. Sometimes that happens – the ball came out. The other fumble was a mesh fumble on the option. It was probably a poor decision but it happens. There was poor timing. The other one was a bad decision to throw a ball down the middle of the field. On his [quarterback Josh Nesbitt] behalf, he was getting rushed pretty well and there were a lot of people around him. We have to try to do a lot of things better to keep that from happening. We have to protect better, use better judgment and all of those things. You just keep working on it. You can’t get the ball ripped out of your hands, which is what happened to Boston College a couple times. It is just the stuff you work on everyday. Clearly if you lose the turnover battle three to nothing you are not going to win any games. We have to do a much better job taking care of it. We had done a good job of getting some up until the last game, but those things usually come in cycles.”
What prompted Lucas Cox’s change in position from B-back to A-back?
“Well, we have to get the best level of players on the field. Clearly he [Lucas Cox] wasn’t going to beat Jonathan Dwyer out, but I thought that he would be better than some of the guys who have to play at the other spot. One of the places that we were really short when we got here was the tailback. I guess if you say Jon [Dwyer] was a tailback, then we only had Jon [Dwyer] and Roddy Jones. We had to find some guys – Greg Smith from receiver, Lucas [Cox] from B-back, and Embry [Peeples] has to play as a true freshman.
“Lucas is a good football player. He can catch and he can block. He is not a dead liability when he runs with it. He might not be the fastest guy on the field but he has run very well with the ball.”
What do you mean that the (non-)efforts are down?
“I’m talking about how fast we are playing and how hard we are playing. Our guys play to the whistle. When we first got here, to our standards, we had a lot of what we call efforts, and they dropped a bunch last game. We still have a ways to go to make progress and I think they understand what we are asking. It is the little things- you can say it doesn’t matter, but it does matter. If I am an offensive lineman and the ball is thrown down field, run your but down the field. If I’m a defensive lineman and the ball is thrown down the field, turn around and run your butt down the field. Do not walk down the field- play to the whistle. Try to block two guys instead of one. Get off the ground. All of those things are playing hard. Everybody thinks they play hard all the time. You will never ask somebody and they will tell you that they took that play off. If you are the backside receiver and you know the toss is going to the opposite side, you can jog your tail off the line or you can sprint off the line and try to cut to the backside corner. We are not in the NFL- we do not just jog off and say `oh, it’s not me this time.’ Those kinds of things I think we are making a lot of improvement.”
Was the defense better against Virginia Tech?
“I think we are playing well on defense. My expectations for us are to play great on defense. We have some good players and some good athletes; I think we played well but I think we can play better. Our third down conversion rate against us is about forty five percent- we have to do a lot better. We still had some long drives against us last week. I just talked to the team on Monday and told them that if they are really mentally tough and really into it that they will be able to have the mentality that if they turn the ball over, they don’t have to let the other team score a touchdown. When Virginia Tech drove down and kicked a field goal to take the lead, on offense you should want to get back on the field to answer them. You should be saying `We held them to a field goal, so now we have to get down the field and score.’ Those things are what we have to do. I think you have to set the bar high- you don’t want to set the bar too low. In my mind, the perfect game on defense is that they do not have any points. That is what I am going to strive for, but until we get there, I am going to find something wrong.”