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Quotes From Monday's Paul Johnson Press Conference

Nov. 17, 2008

Georgia Tech Football head coach Paul Johnson press conference quotes Monday, November 17, 2008

Opening remarks

“It seems like it’s been a long time since we last played a game. I think the bye week came at a good time, and hopefully we have some guys healed up a little bit. I don’t know if we are going to have a whole lot of guys back that missed the last game, but I think that the guys playing who were beat up and bruised had some time to heal going into game 11.

“We certainly have a huge challenge ahead of us. Miami is playing as well as anybody right now. It’s fun to watch them [Miami] play defense. They play hard, run to the ball well and fly around. They have an excellent defense, and on offense they have some skilled people with a lot of speed. It is going to be a big challenge for our team on Thursday night. After the last game, we are looking forward to getting out and playing again. You never like to lose, and you want to try and get that taste out of your mouth so it’s always great to have another opportunity.”

Does your past success against Miami mean anything coming into this game?

“I don’t know. I think that’s water under the bridge. They have a lot of different players and we have a lot of different players. We have had success against them defensively for the last couple of years. Last year was a hard fought game down there, so I wouldn’t put too much stock in that. Both teams are different this year in that they have a different defensive coach and we have a whole different staff.”

What affect will Thursday night’s “White Out” have for your team?

“Hopefully, it will be fun for the fans and generate some excitement in the stadium. Having a nationally-televised game on Thursday night will hopefully make it electric here and get the crowd into it. I think I saw a statistic where Miami is 15-1 in Thursday night games so we will need the 12th man to help us out here.”

What is your defense doing to get ready for Miami freshman quarterback Robert Marve?

“What we have to do is play better fundamental defense. In the last three weeks we haven’t put a fear in anybody that I am aware of, so we have to get back to basics and make sure our eyes are where they belong. We have to make sure we are playing with effort and trying to limit the big plays. We have had a lot of big plays against us so we have to limit those and come back and play defense the way we are capable of playing. Our guys on defense don’t feel like we have played up to our abilities the last three games.”

How much do you look at the standings in the Coastal Division?

“The big thing for us is trying to focus on Miami and all of that will sort itself out. There have been so many scenarios and they change every week. We have a lot to play for regardless. We are at home and it’s the last home game for the seniors. With a win, we can at least lock up a tie for first place in the division.”

Have you ever seen a conference this wide open still with only two weeks left in the regular season?

“No, it’s really kind of unique. It says that there is a lot of parity in the league. There isn’t one team that is leaps and bounds better than anyone else in the conference. On a given day, anybody can beat anybody and I think that’s been proven. The teams that go into the game and don’t turn the ball over usually win.”

What have you seen on film of Miami between the beginning of the season and now?

“I think they have gotten better, but you can say that about most teams from the start of the season until 10 or 11 games in. Certainly, you can see they have made some strides from where they started and they have stayed fairly healthy, which is important in getting better too. It’s hard to get better if you are not out there.”

Why do you think you have given up the big play in recent games?

“It’s a combination of things — not having your eyes where they belong, not paying attention to fundamentals and poor tackling. Sometimes, the other team just makes a big play. You have to give them credit once in a while for making big plays. Early on, we weren’t giving up those types of things. What we have to do is get back to the point where we make people beat us and we’re not doing the silly things to beat ourselves.

“Occasionally, the other team will make a big play but that’s the thing I’m talking about. Third down stops is a good example. We went through a period where we were good at it and getting better at it and now we have gone the other way a little bit. When you aren’t producing as much on offense, all those things get magnified. If you’re scoring 35 points a game, no one is paying attention.”

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