Sept. 12, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
Johnson believes his players should motivate themselves.
It’s fairly well known in these parts that Paul Johnson gets fired up. Just ask him his thoughts about prognosticators of any kind, theorists, the folks who rank recruiting, the prospects for an expanded college football playoff system, or, well, anything. You’re almost certain to get a rise.
The Georgia Tech head coach has said on several occasions, however, that he doesn’t consider jacking up his players to be part of his job description. That’s on them.
So when the Yellow Jackets (1-0) open conference play Saturday at Duke (2-0), it’s a good bet that you won’t find Johnson banging his head against a locker or yelling inspiration to his players.
That’s on them.
So never mind that the Jackets have beaten Duke nine straight times, including the last four meetings in Durham.
Quarterback Vad Lee is abundantly excited about returning to play a game in his home town, and Johnson’s counting on Lee’s teammates to be similarly andrenalized, even though playing in Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium has on many occasions been akin to scrimmaging in front of family and friends.
“I would hope that our guys would be excited to play. It’s our first conference game, and it’s our second game of the year. We’ve got a lot to play for,” Johnson said in his Tuesday press conference. “Who knows what the atmosphere’s going to be? They’re 2-0. Maybe they’ll have a huge crowd and it might be wild.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot of football. We’ve got some experience. They know what it’s like. We’ve got a ton of guys who have played up there; they know the environment and what they’re getting into.”
Duke has evolved a bit this season inasmuch as head coach David Cutcliffe has incorporated the spread offense. The Blue Devils, however, have also lost their starting quarterback to a collarbone injury.
Johnson went out of his way to not make much out of Tech’s 70-0 season-opening win over Elon, a team that was remarkably over-matched. He seems to believe the Jackets have a little something special cooking, but it’s not time to blush with excitement.
The Jackets hope to move the needle little more today, but they better not assumed that I will be easy just because it has been – for the most part – in the past.
“It’s like any team early in the season. I don’t know how much you can take away from any of the early season games,” he said. “It’s a conference game. It’s a division game. It’s a road game. And anytime you can win a division game on the road, that’s a bigger plus. Then you’ve got the tiebreaker over that team.
“You’ve got the division record. You’ve got the whole nine yards. Our guys understand it’s a big game and they’ve set goals that they want to get back to Charlotte. And we need to win this game if that’s going to be one of the goals.”
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