Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference - Sept. 25, 2018
Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference (Game 5 – vs. Bowling Green, Sept. 29)
“We’re excited to have another opportunity to play this week. We’re looking forward to it. I think the guys are ready to get back to work, work on all the things we need to work on to play better and hopefully we’ll get a better result. We’ve got a lot of the season left and we’re looking forward to playing this week and getting another start.”
On what he’s looking for out of the defense going forward:
“I think the consistency and we have to play better. It’s like I’ve said before, we can coach better and play better but you’ve got to set a standard that’s a high standard and what we’ve had for the most part has not been good enough. I think we are getting better on defense. I think the kids are improving. Hopefully we can put it together here for the last two-thirds of the season.”
On how much time will be spent in practice on preparing for Bowling Green vs. fixing self-inflicted mistakes:
“You have to prepare yourself but you have to get ready for the other team. Every team has got some good players and certainly Bowling Green does. So it’s another chance for us to go out and play and see if we can make some progress on the way we’ve played and we need to do that.”
On what he thinks of the team overall through the first four games of the season:
“I think it’s been a little bit of a struggle. I think that for whatever reason, the second game of the year (at USF) was really, really disappointing to me. We had a great chance to win that game even with all the mistakes we made. We fought back and were up 10 in the fourth quarter and didn’t finish. We turned the ball over and then couldn’t get a stop. The next road game, give Pitt credit, we didn’t play very well offensively in the first half and we dug ourselves a hole and gave up some big plays. We had very poor execution on a fake punt that probably we shouldn’t have run. Although when you watch the tape, we just didn’t execute it very well. And we dug ourselves a hole and couldn’t get out.
“The last game (vs. Clemson), we played a really good football team …
“I go back to the [Pitt game]. I looked this week, it’s not easy to win on the road in the league. The only team to win on the road this week in the ACC was Clemson. Everyone else won at home. So you can’t go and make mistakes and not play well for a half, do those kind of things and go win the game. So those are the things you’ve got to correct.
“I’m not ready by any stretch to give up on this team. Like I said, there are eight games left and what we need to do is go out there and win this game and then start to build and gain some momentum and play through it.”
On the status of junior offensive lineman Kenny Cooper:
“Well, we want to get him back in the lineup and play, but he’s got to stay healthy and practice. And when you don’t practice, it’s hard to play. It’s been a frustrating thing for Kenny. I know he wants to get out there and wants to play and it’s frustrating for us.”
On whether Georgia Tech’s pass protection issues against Clemson were a result of Clemson’s defensive front or issues with Georgia Tech’s techniques and assignments on the offensive line:
“Some of both. It’s always some of both. All of the above. If you watch [Clemson] play, they get a lot of tackles for loss and a lot of negative yardage and a lot of sacks on everybody. Probably, the four of those guys [on Clemson’s defensive line] will be first- or second-rounders. There’ll probably be six that’ll playing on Sunday. They’re good players and they do a good job. So if you’re not exactly correct in your stuff, it also limits what you can do throwing the ball. Because what we were trying to do was add a blocker to one side and sprint out and get away from them and at times we turned guys loose in the gap and one guy would miss a guy or one guy would get through and there you go. Five guys can be doing it correct and one doesn’t and it’s a negative play.”
On how Brant Mitchell has played so far this season:
“I think Brant is a really tough guy; he’s a good leader. You know you’re going to get 100 percent out of Brant, you’re going to get everything he’s got. We’re fortunate to have him on the team. I think he helps set the tone on defense and plays really hard.”
On whether there are any takeaways offensively from last week:
“When we didn’t kill ourselves with penalties or minus-yardage plays, we had a chance to move the ball. I’m not going to sit here and say we could’ve moved it consistently against them because it wasn’t up to my standards. Offensively, we had 75-80 yards in lost-yardage plays. Some of it was off fumbles that they picked up or whatever. But if you take those and minimize that and get it down to 10-15, which is what a normal game would be, yeah, then you probably rush for 200-something. And that’s going to be more than they give up to most everybody.
“Now, we’ve got to be able to throw the ball more efficiently. But some of that stuff, it’s not all on the quarterback. It’s like I said before. And that’s where we fundamentally need some work – on drops and sprint-outs and those kind of things. And that’s things that we can fix, hopefully. And it’s not like we haven’t worked on it, but clearly we need more work.”
On the struggles that the ACC Coastal Division seems to be having and if Georgia Tech can still be a contender:
“I don’t know about [the Coastal Division struggling]. Duke is undefeated – now, they probably haven’t played the same schedule we have. Miami has lost one to LSU, who’s ranked. Virginia Tech has lost one. Pitt lost to North Carolina on the road but there, if that’d been at [Pitt], who knows? I think that there’s still a chance, if what you’re asking me is do we still have a chance to win the Coastal? Absolutely. Absolutely. We’ve won the thing with a 5-3 record before. You know, we’ve got Miami and Duke at home, who right now are [among] the ones that are undefeated. You’d have to go and win a couple on the road. We’ve got Virginia at home, they’re undefeated in the league. But that’s what I mean, there’s a ton of football left. I don’t have much doubt in my mind that it could happen. But if we finish 6-2 in the ACC Coastal, I’d take it right now … I like my chances of winning at 6-2. I could be wrong. [Someone] could run the table. But, right now I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about beating Bowling Green. We’ve got to play better and win the game on Saturday. But we’ll get to that if it ever gets to it. That’s way down in October, November. We’re still in September. That’s why it’s a little premature to give up in September.”
On if this is the weekend that he wants to see momentum begin to build:
“I know what we’ve been offensively historically. And we’re not playing that way. Defensively, we’ve just got to get a little better and then we’ll be better than we’ve been. So, if we can get the offense back to the way we normally play, and continue to grow on defense, then yeah, you’ve got a chance. We’ve got to get back – we’re not playing on offense. I’m talking about, we played pretty well offensively at South Florida. We had 600 yards. I think we scored the most amount of points on them than anyone else has in four games. If we don’t turn over the ball or if we can get a couple stops or don’t give up two kick returns, there’s a million things how we could’ve won that game. Pitt, we played very poorly on offense in the first half. Not good. Second half, we scored on 3-of-5 possessions. Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to score. Still not up to my standard, not good. The last game, it was a struggle. I don’t know what [Clemson’s] record is in their last 40 games, what is it? 37-3 or something? There’s a lot of cats who’ve struggled against them.
“I know what I see in practice and I know what I see with our guys. I think we’ve got a chance to get better and play better.”
On Bowling Green’s defense:
“They’ve played a lot of snaps. They play really, really fast on offense. They’ve struggled at times – I’m not going to tell you they’re the Steel Curtain. But it’s like anybody else. I was watching the Maryland game this morning. They’re ahead 14-10 at halftime. They come out in the second half and they go 100 miles per hour and make two first downs. You’re going to give up some, that’s what happens if you’re going to go fast and you don’t move the ball. Now, when they move the ball and they score and they possess it – it’s just like we played really good defense in the first quarter against Clemson. They had the ball twice. It’s a little easier to play really good defense than if they had the ball five times. If you’re going breakneck speed and you’re not making first downs, or even if you’re scoring fast …
“A couple of games they’ve had, they got it going offensively and they were scoring fast. When you watch the tape and teams are running 100 plays, that’s like playing a game and a half.”