Aug. 30, 2014
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Johnson
“It was a game of two halves. The first half we struggled a little bit offensively. The thing I like about what we do is that it’s hard to play against. We couldn’t get them off the field. It was a game of limited possessions and it magnifies a third down if you don’t execute or you don’t read and you have to give up the ball because you may not get it back for five or six minutes. They were committed to stop the run so we needed to throw the ball. I was happy to see Justin, after the first half, settle down and hit some big plays in the passing game. We had a lot of guys who hadn’t played and you could tell that there were a lot of nerves going on. Basically I think we scored offensively every time we had the ball. We had two punts and a missed field goal. You couldn’t pull away. You were never going to get away from them because to their credit they were hanging on to the ball. They were answering and making the next possession bigger and bigger. They had a good plan and they executed it.”
Justin Thomas’ second half performance
“He had a shaky first half not only in the passing game but on some reads in the option game. In the second half he settled down. It’s like I said there were not a lot of turns. We ran 59 plays and we averaged about nine yards a play. So it was a question of being able to get the ball and get out there. In the time of possession, they got us by three minutes. That doesn’t usually happen.”
DeAndre Smelter’s performance
“He’s a good player. I thought Mike Summers made a big play there to get the first down on the catch. But we’ve got to find a way to get DeAndre the ball. He’s a good player and he had a good camp. He cramped up there in the fourth quarter and was out. And like I said Mike Summers made a big play. We have one more game and then we get Darren Waller back and that will help the position a lot. He’s had a great camp. When you get those three guys out there they will be some tough matchups for people. “
Jamal Golden’s role on special teams
“We probably didn’t get as much out of the kick returns as we should have today. The punt return there late was probably not a good decision. I mean he made a play. He should have caught the ball in the air. You don’t want to pick the ball of the ground like that off a bounce. To his credit he made a play, but that wasn’t a good decision. Anytime you can change field position it’s going to be great. IF you’ve got a short field, it’s going to be huge. And we hit some explosion plays.”
4th down conversions in the third quarter
“I was trying to jumpstart our guys. It was like we were sleep walking through. The first one on third down we didn’t run the play. I mean he [Justin Thomas] took the ball and just kind of sneaked it for some reason. And I’m not sure he didn’t do the same thing on the fourth down after he bobbled the snap. But I was just trying to wake them up a little bit. Then on the one from down on their end we were kind of in no man’s land there. I mean it’s too far for a field goal. They were geared up to stop the run and we had a two on one on the flat player. And to Justin and Tony [Zenon]’s credit they executed very well.”
Wofford’s touchdown to end the first half
“I mean everybody in the stadium knew they were going to run the ball right except for us I guess. I think truly what happened was the safety got up so tight that he got lost and the guy hit the seam.”
WOFFORD HEAD COACH MIKE AYERS
General thoughts on the game
“I saw some good things, and I saw some bad things, quite frankly. We should have had a chance to beat them. We just didn’t execute some things the way we needed to defensively. I thought that we would defend them a lot better. We needed to tackle better in space, and with those athletes, that’s going to be very difficult.
“We had some good stuff go on. For the most part, I thought our kicking game went really well. I thought we took a step ahead from an offensive standpoint, We had a lot of green guys on the offensive line, and I thought they accounted for themselves really well.
“We had our chances. It’s going to be a game that we can learn from. It was hit, but it wasn’t really hot. There were a couple things where we had a chance. They fumbled a punt, and we kicked it around and had a chance to get it. If we get it right there, who knows? You’ve got to make plays. Anytime you play up, you’ve got to make plays against them. They’re a physical team, and I thought we accounted for ourselves well. I don’t think we were completely outclassed or anything like that. We just had to be sharp. We’ve got an open date and have two weeks to try and get better.”
You had your share big plays at big moments, but Georgia Tech seemed to answer each time.
“They’re going to answer the bell. We had situations where we just didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. We’ll look back and try to figure out what went wrong and why it went wrong. We’ll do our best to correct it.
“They’re no different from us from a philosophical standpoint. They want to run it. The tough is, if you don’t get them off schedule … There were some times in the fourth quarter, they went for it on fourth down. They understood that we were just good enough to keep hunting and pecking and finding something offensively that might hurt them and help us score.
“That one’s over. Like I told my guys, we’ll continue to work and continue to get better. I really don’t want to be critical of our guys because I haven’t seen the film. But there were things made easy for them. We either busted an assignment, just got outclassed, or got fooled.”
This was not the first time you’ve been there against an FBS team
“”We’ve been there against South carolina, twice, against Clemson. We’ve been there. When you get to that point, you’ve got to step up there just a little bit extra. You’ve got to continue to take care of those sticks. You’ve got to move those sticks. You need to make the pass. If the guy’s open, he makes the catch. We’ve had some things that worked really well. I thought our quarterbacks did a good job. We’ve got a stable of running backs that I’ve got a great deal of confidence in. I think, offensive line-wise, they proved today that they’re going to be able to do the job. We’ve got good players on defense; there’s no doubt in my mind.”
GEORGIA TECH PLAYERS
Jamal Golden, Jr., FS
On returning punts and kickoffs after a year out
“It felt real great to be back on the field. As you can see I’m a little rusty, but I expected that coming into the first game so hopefully I knocked that out and that doesn’t happen again. I still feel pretty comfortable back there though.”
On the kick off return at the end of the first half “We had just blocked the kick before that return, so I felt like field position was going to be good going into the half. They had the lead so we needed some good field position. I felt like that was probably the biggest return of the game at the time because we needed field position and we needed to go ahead and take the lead back into the half.”
Justin Thomas, So., QB
On the difference between the first and second half
“Like he said, first half I missed a few guys. That could have been the difference in the first half. Overthrew them a little bit. Second half just calmed down and made my throws I was supposed to.”
On going for it on fourth down in the first drive of the second half “If it’s fourth down and it’s manageable we are going to go for it. That drive opened up scoring and it did give us a lot of confidence and showed us that we can move that ball and that we know what we’re doing out there.”
DeAndre Smelter, Sr., WR
On the team’s second-half performance
“I think a lot of people came out today amped and we just had to decide to just play our game. The second half is definitely promising to what we can do in the future.
132 yards, 5 catches is this what you expected coming into today?
“I just expected to come out there and play hard. I know that if everybody does there job then we have a good chance to be productive.
Quayshawn Nealy, Sr., LB
What happened on the long touchdown run by Wofford right before the half?
“Really just a misfit. Coach Roof said that he’ll take the blame for it, but in all honesty it’s us out there playing. We are a team at the end of the day. We just made a mistake on an assignment and they hit for a big play.”