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September 10, 2014

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:  Well, we are looking forward to getting back home and having a chance to play another home game.  I was pleased with the way we played the second half at Tulane.  We got off to a rough start but the kids had some resiliency and bounced back.  We are still a work‑in‑progress.
I think we have still got a lot of things we need to improve on, but I'm encouraged.  We've got a team coming in this Saturday that certainly has some good athletes that knows how to win, and a lot of tradition there and a lot of winning.  So it will be a challenge for us.  We've got to get ready to try to get better this week on Saturday.

Q.  These guys, Georgia Southern, gave NC State a lot of trouble in week one.  What do you need to do better than NC State did that makes them less of a problem for you guys?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think NC State gave up some big plays to them.  Just like anybody, if you do that, it makes it tough.  Hopefully we can run the ball a little better than NC State did against them.  But you know, they are formidable.  If you look at their last three games, they beat Florida, lost to NC State by one and just blitzkrieged Savannah State.
If you think about their tradition and their history, I was lucky enough to be a part of it; they won a lot of games and a lot of championships.  They are not going to be intimidated.

Q.  What is the reason that this is finally the first time these schools are meeting?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, probably before I got here, they were too smart to play them.  When I was a coach at Georgia Southern, we tried to get the game.  We just couldn't get it.  I think Dan finally put it on the schedule, Dan Radakovich, and so it's an opportunity for them to play.

Q.  Georgia Southern has traditionally run an option attack, too.  How similar is that to yours; how different is it?  And the with the new staff, would you characterize them as an option team?
COACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, they are definitely an option team.  Yeah, they are just doing it out of the gun; some pistol stuff, some of the zone read stuff that everybody runs.  But the majority of their running game is definitely option oriented.

Q.  Does that make it easier or harder, because obviously‑‑
COACH JOHNSON:  You know, I don't know.  It's similar to a lot of the things that Wofford did against us and we clearly didn't play very well against them.  So a lot of things that we have got to do better.

Q.  What is the feeling like this coming weekend when you faced your team on the other side of the field?
COACH JOHNSON:  I always pull for Georgia Southern most every week, but this week is just like getting ready for another team.  We still have a lot of friends there and we had a great time coaching there, but when we started on Sunday getting ready in practice this week, it's the same as if we were preparing for anybody else.
So that part of it, I haven't thought much about it.  Might be interesting when I look over there and see that sideline and the uniform and all that.  But to me right now, it's just another team, and I'm concerned about getting Georgia Tech ready to play.

Q.  So what is one thing that you see on film from Georgia Southern that might be haunting you this weekend?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, they have good athletes and they run well.  So there's a good history and tradition.
Like I said, they are used to winning, and when teams are that way, they are tough to play.  They have played some tough places and been in some big games.  They are not going to be intimidated coming in here.  We just have to go out here and play our game.  I'm more concerned with Georgia Tech than I am with Georgia Southern.  If we go play, we'll be okay.

Q.  You had a big play from Quayshawn Nealy returning an interception for a touchdown.  I see he had seven career interceptions and three return for touchdowns, and for a linebacker, that's pretty extraordinary.  Tell me a little bit about him.  What kind of a knack does he have for getting into position for those plays?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think Quayshawn has actually had two interception returns and one fumble return.
But I think Quayshawn is a guy that has good awareness.  He understands the game and he has a knack for finding himself in the right places a lot of times and I think you have to give him credit for that.
I think that some people just have that ability that they can kind of analyze things pretty quickly, and they know what's going on around them and when he's dialed in, he's that way a lot.  He's pretty good and he's got a good football IQ.

Q.  Is he more or less the leader of your defense?
COACH JOHNSON:  He probably is the leader of the defense.  He's a quiet guy.  He's not a big rah‑rah guy, but he's a three‑year starter and a senior, and we've got some young guys playing over there; he probably is the leader on the defense I would think.

Q.  I was just looking at your numbers and marked improvement defensively against the run last week, and then it has to do with the kind of teams that you're playing, that Tulane runs a more passing game‑‑ did you see the improvement that the numbers seemed to show or was that all a function of the offense that they run?
COACH JOHNSON:  It was probably some of both, but you know, better gauge will be this week because we are playing a team that runs the ball.  So you know, when you play an option team, your numbers get skewed a little bit, anyway.
You know, it's never quite what it seems when you play a team like Wofford.  Your passing numbers are going to be better, and a team like Tulane, the running‑‑ we'll play a running team this week.  We have not really played a balance‑‑ what I would call a team that's balanced.  Although as you can tell with what we do, I'm not a big proponent that that makes a difference, anyway.  I think you need to be able to either run or throw when you want to, but I think when you look, the best teams aren't really balanced.

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