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Quotes From Tuesday's Paul Johnson Press Conference

Oct. 14, 2008

Opening Remarks:

“We are looking forward to getting a chance to play on Saturday. I think going to Clemson will be a huge challenge. They have some outstanding individual players and are a very talented team. And we are ready to put our last game behind us and move on. You want to learn some lessons from that game, but you can’t dwell on one game. Clearly we were disappointed in the way we played; I was disappointed at myself in getting them ready to play. It’s a group effort and none of us did a good job, but you move on. We were fortunate to get the win and its like I told the team Monday, you go to Clemson and play a good game and win, nobody remembers the last one. So, we need to get ready to play. If I knew why it happened, it never would have happened. It just seems in college football there are a lot of reasons for it. You can pick any team and go through it. I was telling somebody earlier today, you look at Oregon State and they play Penn State and lose 45-14, and come back and play Southern Cal and beat them like they stole something. There are all kinds of games like that, and if you are 18-22 years old and don’t play with emotion and intensity, it will be a tough game.”

On his talk about possibly making some changes on the offensive line:

“Quite honestly, I think those guys took a bigger hit than they deserved. They weren’t very good but neither was anybody else, so it wasn’t like it was all them. They are the same group of kids that rushed for over 400 yards against Mississippi State, and everybody talks about the Duke game, but we had over 450 yards, and it was the same group that played against Boston College and Virginia Tech. I think they would be the first guys to tell you they didn’t play very well (against Gardner-Webb). But neither did the receivers, running backs, quarterbacks and slots. As far as replacing guys up there, we don’t really have a whole lot of guys to replace with. You’re going to struggle to get two-deep, so you’re going to have some walk-ons in there. If you take the freshmen out of the mix, I think there are actually three guys that were recruited to play offensive line that are upper classmen.”

On preparing for Clemson’s offense:

“We are preparing for both quarterbacks. The offensive coordinator is gone so there is a new play caller. What we are going to do is get better at what we do, and then once the game starts we will try to match up with what it is they are doing.”

On the team’s health:

“Since the start, we’ve got guys beat up. Those guys on the offensive line are put together with baling wire and duct tape. I mean literally, they are beat up. The problem is when you don’t have the numbers, you have to practice and you’re not going to get any better, so it’s like a Catch-22. I don’t know if we have had a week yet, where the six or seven offensive linemen we are trying to play, have all practiced. Last Saturday was A.J. Smith’s first time back since the first game; Dan Voss has been in and out; Cord [Howard] has been hurt and David [Brown] has had his episodes. They have all been in and out, so if we can keep them all out there together for a while then I think we will get better.”

On problems Clemson’s defense poses:

“They are big, physical and can run very fast. They are talented. If you look at their numbers since the first game of the season, they have played pretty well on defense. They have a lot of returners on the back end, they are two-deep on the defensive line and they roll those guys, so it will be a formidable challenge.”

On the progression of Tech’s offense:

“I would like to have more consistency and I think we would have been better if we could have kept the guys out there longer. In six games, we have played three quarterbacks and it’s not because they got banged up carrying the ball. Josh [Nesbitt] pulls a hamstring running down the sidelines. I think he was just starting to really come into his own and feel comfortable with what he was doing and then is out for three weeks. Jaybo [Shaw] came in and had played really good against Mississippi State, had done some good things against Duke and we would have liked to have him last week. I think it would have been huge if he could have gone out there and played. It opens so many more things for you that you can do. And it’s not only the offensive line. Quincy Kelly has been out now for three weeks, which puts a burden on Jonathan Dwyer and a real burden on Lucas Cox. We had to play Marcus Wright, who probably didn’t need to be playing, just from a numbers stand point at A-back. We have already played Embry Peoples and now he’s hurt and he’s out. I think we are making progress, but it would be far better if we could have had some consistency and stayed away from the injuries.”

On whether Clemson’s hostile environment is a problem for such a young team:

“We have hand signals on offense and we do to try and prepare for that every week. Our guys have been pretty good about going (on the road), and maybe it’s because they are young, but at [Virginia] Tech’s Lane Stadium, I can promise you it was really loud and our guys were running around like they were at practice. Nobody mentioned it; it’s just kind of the way they are. We probably don’t have a whole lot of guys that have played up there [at Clemson] in a game. I’m trying to think, on offense Andrew Gardner may be the only guy who’s played in a game up there, so hopefully they’ll just go play and won’t worry about it.”


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