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Postgame Quotes: Pitt 31, Georgia Tech 28

Oct. 17, 2015

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GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH PAUL JOHNSON

Opening Statement…
“Well, it just kind of seems like that’s the way the year is going. You know, as I’ve said before, there’s a very thin margin of error for this team and it reared it’s head. It’s like I told the guys after the game, we had a chance to kick a go-ahead field goal right before half. We get ours blocked. They make their 56-yard field goal there at the end. We have a chance, maybe, where they don’t get the ball with the score tied. And, we get an inexplicable, offensive pass-interference on a guy that’s outside that’s supposed to be running deep. Meaning, he’s not even supposed to be there. Then we have a couple of drops, the third down.

“You know, their last scoring drive that they went down and scored, we got them. Third down, they throw it to the back, we got a guy on the back, but we miss the tackle in the backfield. He makes the first down and they go score. Just not much room for error and really frustrating. I think the kids are playing hard. It’s not effort. Right now we just got to make one more play. We are not good enough to make one more play. We had some real screw-ups on offense, basically when the game got tight. They were all freshmen. I mean, a guy doesn’t turn up with the pitch, a guy gets a pass interference, a guy turns they guy loose in pass protection down on the goal line coming out with the call. All freshmen. So, it’s tough. And the way the game was going, you didn’t want to miss your turn.”

On the offensive performance against Pittsburgh…
“Well, you could recognize our offense again. It looked like what we are used to doing. And, yeah, we have played some good defenses. I mean they come in No. 6 in the country. I don’t know what we average per play, but it had to be pretty good because we didn’t run have the ball much. 55 plays, 490 yards, so, it’s a pretty good average. That’s about 8 yards per play. But, you got to score more points. 31 is more than 28. We didn’t get enough. Only got seven in the second half.”

On what was clicking on offense today that led to big plays…
“We just executed a little better. I think Marcus Marshall is a little more athletic. Patrick Skov is a really hard-nosed, tough kid. He’s really tough and he’s going to get you some hard runs. Marcus is probably going to get you more big runs. He needs to learn to hold onto the ball. Although, we got two of our fastest guys in the open and they [Pittsburgh] caught them both. JT [Justin Thomas] got open in the first half. Marcus there in the third quarter and they caught them both.

On the defensive line play in the second half…
“Well, right now, we are not very good on defense. Face it, facts are facts. We are probably from 10th to 14th in every category in the league. So, you know, we’ve got to find a way to get better. And, having said that, we had our chances. We missed some tackles. It’s hard to believe, but we had coverage. We were trying to double 23 [Tyler Boyd]. We had him doubled on the post he caught for a touchdown. Or he was supposed to be doubled. The last play on fourth down, he was supposed to be bracketed and doubled. Give him credit, he [Boyd] made plays. You’ve got to cover him. If two guys can’t cover him, it’s tough.

“Our eyes, eyes on defense, guessing plays, looking in the backfield. That’s how you give up big play-action plays, you guess and you look in the backfield. We did a little better on that actually because the last two weeks we have given up 15 big plays. I don’t think they had that many today. They probably had five or six.”

On perimeter blocking…
“It was okay. I thought we fought. We did okay. We didn’t break any long pitches. The guys catching them have to run better too. You can’t just let the first guy that comes to you tackle you everytime. It’s not going to be clean to the end zone. It’s not against the rules to cut back and make somebody miss or outrun them or do some of that. Most of our speed guys are standing over there with us, hurt.”

GEORGIA TECH LINEBACKER TYLER MARCORDES

On Pitt’s Tyler Boyd…
“He’s a great player. We knew that coming into the game. Like Coach Johnson said, we ran some defenses against him and doubled him. On a couple plays we just didn’t get the job done overall.”

On Pitt’s two fourth-down conversions…
“Those are plays we need to make. We’re in the right position. We just need to have someone to make a play on fourth down, to get us off the field and let the offense get the ball.”

GEORGIA TECH B-BACK MARCUS MARSHALL

On Tech’s explosive offensive plays…
“I think just as a whole everybody was doing their assignment and doing it well.”

On his biggest area of improvement…
“I think I’ve gotten better at blocking, but I still need to get better. Then obviously ball security. I was doing pretty well there for a minute, but I had a few slipups today and I need to get better at that too.”

GEORGIA TECH DEFENSIVE END KESHUN FREEMAN

On Pitt’s game-winning drive…
“Things just happen sometimes and sometimes it just doesn’t go our way. But we fought hard. We have to just keep fighting and keep getting better. Adversity is going to come and we just have to stand in the face of it and do well with it.”

On containing Tyler Boyd…
“There’s always things we can improve on. We’ve got to limit the time the quarterback has to throw for the defensive backs in cover. Sometimes we don’t get as much pressure as we should and sometimes they don’t cover as long as they should. As a defense as a whole, we just have to continue to play well as a unit and handle the small things by doing them well.”

On Tech’s five-game losing streak…
“It’s disappointing. As a team, we’ve got people on the team who say ‘we’ve got to stand up.’ Anytime anyone’s down we’ve got people who lift them up. Our coaches don’t let us stay down either. They make us pick our heads up because there’s always something in the future that’s calling our name. We can’t just sit there and settle for what has happened. We can’t look at the things that we lost. We’ve got to look forward to the things we can gain.”

GEORGIA TECH WIDE RECEIVER RICKY JEUNE

On his touchdown reception…
“I was supposed to run a seven-cut which is a cutback, but the defensive back pressed up on me so I just took it. Then Justin [Thomas] threw a great pass.”

On Pitt’s secondary…
“I thought I could get by them, but we do what we do. I thought the offense played well in the first half. In the second half we slowed down, but I still think we made some plays.”

On final drive…
“We ran a comeback a few times. They started cheating it a little bit. On the last one, I was trying to get out of bounds and the ball just popped out. There was nothing I could do. I should have caught it. I just try to move on.”

PITTSBURGH HEAD COACH PAT NARDUZZI

Opening Statement…
“Our guys came out fighting, and we knew we were going to be in for a battle. We knew the option wasn’t going to be easy. We knew life wouldn’t be perfect. We talked about the ups and downs; our defense gave up seven points in the second half. We came out and made some adjustments at halftime and got after them a little bit, but they still gave up some big plays. Offensively, we played outstanding. That was a game we were waiting for, where you start off with a seven-minute, ten-second drive to open up the game. We won the toss, took the ball and said we were going to take it to them, and we did. The thing I can say about our kids is they’ve got faith. They’ve got faith in what we were talking about, preaching and coaching, and our players made the plays today that they needed to. (Chris) Blewitt’s 55, 56-yard field goal to win it, that’s what you play in these big games for. The two fourth-down calls that coach (Jim) Chaney made in the fourth quarter there on that final drive, I think it was another seven-minuted drive, were crucial. That’s what players do when they want to win.”

On going for it on fourth down…
“We were going for it anyway. We didn’t even have our punt team hanging out. I probably shoul’ve hung them out there just to give them the decision, but I didn’t. We were going for it anyway, but it was good.”

On his confidence in going for it on 4th-and-3…
“Yeah. We had to. It was either give the ball back to them and give them a chance to kick a field goal, or kick it. At that point, we were happy with the way our defense was playing. And really we gave up one really long dive play in the second half in base defense. Our end didn’t close fast enough after seeing the tape. They do a great job. That’s a good football team. I feel bad for coach (Paul) Johnson. He’s a heck of a football coach. You feel for anyone like that to lose one like that, but they’ve got a heck of a football team that will come back.”

On the confidence of the defense…
“No doubt about it. With a minute left or a minute and ten (seconds), or whatever it was when we stepped on the field I said, “Hey, this is our game. They’ve got to throw the ball now.” We dropped an interception. That still gives you chest pains, but we dropped an interception. It could have been over. We didn’t even have to go through that, but the kid said he really wanted to drive you guys nuts and the fans nuts. But we probably missed that quarterback. (Justin) Thomas is a great player; I don’t know how many times we missed him on sacks. But’s he’s running around throwing the ball like Fran Tarkenton in the old days. They’re a good football team.”

On Nate Peterman…
“Well, we talked to him before that play and said, “Hey, listen. We need four or five yards to be really in good field goal range, and he said, “That’s good to know, Coach.” So he put his head down there at the end when it wasn’t open. I thought someone would get open, but no one was open. But he put his head down and gained probably three yards.”

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