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Postgame Quotes

Nov. 12, 2016

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Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson
Opening Statement:
“I was really proud of our football team. We came in with a few people out and down. We needed our defense to step up and play big, and they did. We got some turnovers, and then we got off the field. Offensively, we were able to find ways to make some big plays and found a way to get it done. We always joke about the offense, that you want to be good up the middle, and we were missing all three – the center, the quarterback and the b-back. Those guys filled in. Since I’ve been coaching football, I don’t know if I ever started three true freshmen on the offensive line, especially on the road. Someone forgot to tell them they were freshmen, they just went out there and played. I am really proud of the team. There is a lot that we can take out of this game and grow from. We have to go home and continue to get better for next week vs. Virginia.”

On the defensive turnovers:
“It was great. It played right into the deal because it limited possessions. When you can get them off the field, create some turnovers and force them, even though they were field goals, we got the points. I thought the score right before halftime was big. To get the touchdown right before half was big for our momentum. To go up by 20 at half was huge.”

On when he had the sense that QB Justin Thomas wasn’t going to be able to play:
“Probably Tuesday. He was going to try, but I watched him in warmups, and I wasn’t going to do that to the kid. He wanted to play, and he would’ve played, but he wasn’t capable. (QB) Matthew (Jordan) took all the reps this week in practice, and it wouldn’t have been right for (QB) Matthew (Jordan) not to play either. The same with (OL) Freddie Burden. We thought he would earlier in the week, but he just didn’t get in better. Sometimes he doesn’t practice fully on Tuesday, but then he couldn’t go on Wednesday. Then when he couldn’t go on Thursday, you know. (OL) Freddie (Burden) actually practiced on Thursday, but you could tell he wasn’t ready. (OL) Kenny (Cooper) took all the reps, so it wasn’t fair for him not to start or play. When he got out there, he was doing ok. Then we started dropping snaps in the second half.”

On QB Justin Thomas’ injury:
“It’s just an injury.”

On if QB Justin Thomas is in the concussion protocol:
“No. He was cleared play, but I just didn’t feel like he was 100 percent. I wasn’t going to put him out there.”

On how big it was to stop the Hokies’ momentum after the second half touchdown right out the gate:
“It was huge. Typically, the way we play, there is not going to be a lot of possessions. Once it was 20-7, and we got the ball. We converted the third down to (WR) Ricky Jeune. He made a great play. Truthfully, when it became third and long, I was just playing for a field goal. I wanted to try and get to 23 to make them get two two-point conversions. I knew there wasn’t going to be that many possessions left in the game. Then we got a turnover, which took more time off the clock. Then when (RB) Marcus (Marshall) broke the long run, it kind of felt like there wasn’t much time left. They sure did go down there pretty quickly at the end. I felt like we were in pretty good shape once we went up 30-7.”

On winning these tough games that they are not supposed to win:
“Actually, we’ve been fortunate that we have won here the last two times we came. It’s a hard place to play. I think our defensive players were probably tired of hearing how bad they were. I think that we played our best defense, especially early in the game. The kids played fast and got lined up. They just kind of played.”

On being bowl-eligible:
“It’s good. I told our kids after the game that 6-6 is not what we are after. We have a chance this week to get to seven, and then we will have a chance after that to get one more. Once we were out of the conference race, I challenged our team to try and win nine games. If you go back and look at the last 50 years, it hasn’t been done a lot. Our goal is to try and do that.”

On RB Marcus Marshall’s big run in the third quarter:
“(RB) Marcus (Marshall) showed up and played well. I don’t know what he ended up with. He only had a 143 yards, so he played really well. Of course, he had a couple of long runs. He hung in there, and he was tough. I always get on (RB) Marcus (Marshall) about his blocking. Running is not a problem with (RB) Marcus (Marshall). It never has been. He can run the football.”

Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente
Opening Statement:
“First of all, I am awful grateful for everyone who showed up tonight. I am sorry that we didn’t play better and that the game didn’t have a better ending. The crowd was fantastic. I certainly appreciate it. Congratulations to Georgia Tech, Coach Johnson and the job he did today. You think back on the game and we turned the ball over right from the start. We never really got anything going. Our kids played admirably. They battled through adversity and were tough. In the end, we didn’t play well enough and we didn’t deserve to win the ball game. They did. Credit to them. We need to pick it up and be ready to go next week. We still have plenty of opportunities in front of us and I know that our team will respond in the right way.”

On huddling up before halftime and what the message was:
“I do that after every first half, every game. We have done that every game since I was at Memphis and ever since I have been here. I told them that we are the ones that got ourselves into this hole and we are the only ones who can get ourselves out.”

On if the offense being out of rhythm carried over from Duke:
“It wasn’t what we like it to be. That is for sure. It is always easy for a coach to say that we didn’t get into a rhythm or flow, which is true. But there are reasons for that. Our execution level just hasn’t been, or certainly today, what it needed to be. We couldn’t get things going. We either turned the ball over or couldn’t convert on the third down which is disappointing. In general terms, we were not very good.”

On if the 1-0 focus was lost this week:
“No I really didn’t. I thought we were ready to play. The guys had a good week of practice. At times, they looked good out there. I don’t sense anything but professionalism and hunger from these guys to do the right thing.”

On deciding the kickoff:
“My first thought was that if we could, because we didn’t have ROV Terrell Edmunds during the first half, if there was anyway for one less possession that we could have Terrell. That was the genesis of it. Playing an option team, the ball control was part of it. The fact that there was no real wind and Terrell was out of the first half, the plan was to take the ball when Terrell would be back in the second half. Obviously, it didn’t go well. “

On still being in good shape to win the division:
“That is part of what I told the kids after the game. We didn’t deserve to win the ball game today. Georgia Tech did. I give them a tremendous amount of credit. We didn’t deserve to win our division today. But since our the way they have played overall, the way they have conducted themselves, the games they have won and how they played on the road, that dream is not dead. We have a pretty clear choice. We can respond and pick ourselves up to go get after it and be ready to go. We still have two games ahead of us. Next week is nonconference and then Virginia comes here. It was part of the message today.”

On this ball security being disappointing:
“When you go back and look, all coaches say these things because they are true. The single most determining factor in winning and losing a ball game is turnovers. There is no other statistic than the score that predicts the outcome of the game. For us to have four turnovers is hard. When you look at our games when we have turned the ball over, we haven’t fared well. This is certainly no exception. We know that if we want to give ourselves a chance. We don’t have a large margin of error. We need to take care of the football.”

On keeping QB Jerod Evans in for the fourth half:
“I didn’t think it was a question (to put him in or not). I just felt that at times we were moving the ball so efficiently. I still felt like we still had opportunities to go and win the game. There at the end we kind of got away but it was not a discussion. He did a good job (with the two scores at the end) but they put up a base defense for two straight drives and we should be able to move the ball.”

Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster
On some defensive mishaps:
“I’ll say this, I think Paul Johnson did a really great job tonight. He was one step ahead of me. We were always trying to get our front moving, he was always trying to counter that. The first touchdown pop, they were doing a nice job loading things up and they got up to Mike who was our pitch player on that particular play. That’s what we’ve been able to avoid the majority of the time the last few years we’ve played these guys. The big play—they got two big plays against us and it was costly.”

On DL Woody Baron’s performance:

“Yeah, you know, stats are stats but if you take away a couple of plays… It was a couple of plays here or there, you know, a couple of penalties that were costly and kept the drive alive. We weren’t as sharp all the way around. I thought we had an outstanding week of practice. I thought that our scout kids did a great job with this offense. It’s still hard to simulate, but they did a couple of nice things, a couple wrinkles that made us work. They just did a nice job executing.

On being surprised by GT’s offense without QB Justin Thomas:
“No, they kept with what they were doing. What they did last week—they rushed for about 350 against North Carolina last week and put up a bunch of points and turned the ball over a couple of times. They were loading up the alley early and I thought we did a nice job adjusting to that and they caught us with a trap there in the second half. We had the short field that was a short position for us just before half; we needed to hold them to three points and we didn’t. It is what it is. He moved his chess players around better than I did. We needed to not allow the big plays and we gave up two big plays and that cost us the football game when it’s all said and done.

On playing without Terrell/on FS Mook Reynolds:
“Obviously Terrell is a dynamic football player and he’s a leader for us, in a lot of ways. He’s a guy who’s really come into his own. I don’t know if that was a factor or not when it was all said and done. I’m sure Mook did extremely well; he had an untimely penalty, which was costly because they ended up going down and getting seven points out of that when we had a chance to get off the field.”


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