Sept. 13, 2014
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Paul Johnson
“It was a heck of a game. It was a lot more exciting than it needed to be. You have to give them credit. They fought back hard and they never quit. They played hard. At the end we finally found a way to make a play on offense. A lot of stuff to still work on. 3-0 that’s a good thing. I thought we played very well in the first half. Then offensively you can’t miss a turn. I think there were four or five possessions. That’s kind of the way the game was going. We’ve got to try and clean it up and do better.”
Georgia Tech’s defense in the third quarter
“We just didn’t play assignments. We didn’t tackle. We got pushed around. Other than that we were pretty good.”
Directions for Justin Thomas on final drive
“I told him we got a drive to win the game. We’ve got a chance. We’ve got a chance to win the game. I wanted to go slow and I think it worked out about perfect. Justin made a great play. We turned the blitzing linebacker loose and he made him miss. We had a delayed drag and Deon made a nice catch and got in the end zone.”
Paul Davis’ personal foul in the third quarter
“It killed us. It was a killer. It changed the whole game. Yeah I mean it was 4th down and we’re going to get the ball back up 35-10. And the way it was going we had scored touchdowns every time we had it. It was a killer and then we let them score. And just because you give them a first down doesn’t mean you have to let them score either. That was a killer.”
The momentum shift of Georgia Southern’s 4th quarter fumble
“Well even with the way the second half had gone I was still confident we could get down and score if we didn’t stop ourselves. We had good matchups on the outside. They had a hard time covering them when we threw it where we could catch it. We felt like we had a chance when we got the ball back with four minutes to go.”
Georgia Southern’s second half adjustments
“We came out the very first play and we tried to throw a pass. It was very poor execution. Then on second down we whiffed on our block. And on third and ten we didn’t make the first down. On the next series we’re driving down to the 50 and then we get the chop block call and you’re out. And like I said the way the halves was going you got the ball about four or five times per half. The next series we had third and five and the quarterback threw the ball the wrong way. It was just a little bit of loss of focus and they just kept scoring.”
Would you have challenged the fumble if it hadn’t been reviewed?
“Yes. The guys in the box said it wasn’t forward. They said it was sideways. We would have challenged it. I don’t want to take anything away from them because they played really hard and they played a good game. But on the long plays we’ve got guys unblocked. It should be two guys for two guys, but they can’t decide who’s got who. You look like you’re silly. “
Improving the play in the secondary
“We’ve got to play the ball better. On the long passes it wasn’t like they were really beat badly. They just misjudged the ball. Then the one on third down that they hit on the corner for a first down we were on outside leverage with a low hole player and a free safety and you’re outside leverage gets beat on a corner route. Not real good.”
Darren Waller’s return
“I thought the pass protection all in all wasn’t that bad. But again those guys are good players and we need to get them the ball especially on the deep routes and the comeback routes. We had several of those open that we didn’t hit.”
Were you surprised with the offense in the second half?
Well I think there’s a small margin for error when you lose focus. In the first half we converted third downs and in the second half we didn’t. I think when we look at the tape we’ll see that some of it was bad decisions, some of it was getting behind and I think we lost our focus.”
Justin Thomas on the final drive
“Like I said I thought he played great and he made a play to win the game. He made the linebacker miss. He had some nice runs on quarterback draws. He hit it up in there pretty good. I thought he played great the last drive.”
Justin Thomas’ progression in the offense
“I think he’s gotten better. This is the best game he’s played overall. I think he’s just going to get better. He’s a got a good skill set for what we do. Last week we talked about getting more downhill in the option and I think he did a really good job of that in the first half. Going north and south instead of stretching it. In the second half we hung up a little bit and it wasn’t smooth on the perimeter. I thought he did some good things.”
GEORGIA SOUTHERN COACH WILLIE FRITZ
General thoughts on the game
“We’re disappointed in how we played the first half, and we’re disappointing in not winning the ball game. I’m proud of the guys for how they came out in the second half and took control of the game. My hat’s off to Georgia Tech for coming back to score at the end of the game when things weren’t going too well for them.. Congratulations to them.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys. for the effort they gave in the second half. They still believed, and I thought our coaches did a super job of adjustments at halftime. It doesn’t count as a win, of course, but there were a lot of teachable moments and things we learned in the second half. I told our guys, now we’re going into thr Sun Belt Conference. We’ve played a very tough non-conference schedule.
“Our crowd was fantastic. There were times when I felt like we were at a home game. That was amazing. This was disappointing, but there’s a lot of football left to play. We need to flush this one down the toilet and move on.”
On Upshaw playing the last two series
“Kevin didn’t feel like he could play. He is shoulder was hurting after he fell down on the ground, so we put Favian in. Kevin had a hot hand going, but he wasn’t able to continue. We have a tremendous amount of confidence in [Upshaw]. I thought he came in and played very good.”
On the reversal of the call on the fumble
“It happened right in front of me. The things that’s tough about some of those reviewable plays, and I’m not trying to second-guess the officials, sometimes those are pretty tough. It’s happened to us a couple times now where the whistle is blown and play continues. It seemed that way to me. It was on the pitch and someone came into meet him. I thought it was a forward pass, but they’ve got all the replay technology. Hopefully they got it right.”
Is the team ahead of where you hoped it would be after three games
“There are a lot of positives. We have not one on our team who was offered by Georgia Tech. I told them after the ball game that, after they look at the game, they’ll think they should have offered about 50 of those guys. I’m very proud of where we’re at right now.
“This is a big step up, from Division I-A to Division I football. We’re competing our tails off, and we’re going to continue to keep doing that the rest of the season.”
On the opening play of the game
“It was a counter play, and they really got us on that. It was something they hadn’t shown a whole lot. We did a good job of [adjusting] on that in the second half. We have the scout team replicate that look all week, but it comes at you a heck of a lot faster and takes a little bit to adjust. After our guys got used to the speed of the play, I thought they did much better throughout the ball game.”
On the difference in the second half
“We competed and just kept going. The kids believed, the coaches believed, and they made good adjustments. We came close. It didn’t count, but we made a game of it. When we walked off the field at halftime, there weren’t a whole lot of people who throught that would occur.”
GEORGIA TECH PLAYERS
Deon Hill, AB, Sr., #31
On how the game-winning touchdown unfolded
“It was a play that we practiced a lot this week. We went with the flow of the linebackers and were patient. I waited, got up the field and got open. Justin made a great play and we had great protection from the line as well. Everybody did their job.”
On the lack of intensity in the second half
“We got kind of complacent. We have got to do a better job of getting everybody up for the second half. We need to get the intensity level up. If we do that, then I think we can be a lot better than we have been showing the last few weeks.
On the teams’ focus heading into the game
“We heard a lot of things they were saying to the press. We knew they were going to come with their A-game and were going to bring everything they had. We knew we had to come out here and play.
Justin Thomas, QB, So., #5
Mindset going into the last drive
“I knew we had to score. We could have gotten a field goal and taken it into overtime, but I wanted to get in the end zone on that last drive. I tried to give it everything I had.”
On teams’ second half performance
“The intensity went down a little bit. If we get up like that we have to keep it going. We don’t want to give our opponent any chance to get back in the game. As long as we have them down, we need to keep them down.”
On his passing game
“It wasn’t awful, but it could have been better. I feel like I missed a few targets that were easy throws that I make every day. I feel like Coach Johnson has confidence in me because we came back out and ran that same play a few times. I just have to get it right the first time.
KeShun Freeman, DE, Fr., #42
On differences Georgia Southern made in the second half
“I don’t think they did too much differently. I just think that they increased their intensity. We had to increase our intensity at the end to get our job done.”
On overturned fumble call in the 4th quarter
“I was just praying in my mind that the referee would see the same thing we saw. It was just amazing once the referee confirmed that it was our ball. It was a great feeling.”