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November 2, 2016

Paul Johnson

Greensboro, North Carolina

COACH JOHNSON: I was proud of our guys Saturday. We got out to a big lead and to Duke's credit, they came back and actually look the lead in the fourth quarter and we found a way to get back ahead and win the game.

So hopefully we can learn some valuable lessons from the game Saturday. Look forward to having the opportunity to play the University of North Carolina. They have a very talented team and are playing well, so it will be a huge challenge for us. But we're looking forward to having the chance to come up and play.

Q. What did you see from your defense in the month of October that makes you think, okay, if we just tweak this or tweak that, it could be a better defensive November for Georgia Tech?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, we haven't played particularly well the last couple games. But there are some positives. I mean, we got a couple of fourth down stops on Saturday at critical times. We got a couple turnovers. We also got a stop at the end of the game in the fourth quarter when we took the lead, when we were able to get a stop.

So there are some positives. We've just got to build on it and continue to grow defensively, I think we can play better than what we've played so far.

Q. To grow defensively, obviously in your last three ACC games, you've been either up 35 points or 37 points. Where does the growth come from or at some point do you go, well, this is the defense we've got and this is what they are capable of doing?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't understand your question.

Q. Where does --
COACH JOHNSON: I don't have a magic wand to wave and say, hey, this is where we're going to get better and this is what we're going to do. I think you continue to work on; you correct your mistakes. You try to improve on the things you're not doing well, which is third down defense.

If we just play a little better on third down and get off the field, a lot of that will go away, but it also hasn't been all bad. You know, we have made some plays. Like I said, we've made some fourth down stops and some of that -- gotten turnovers and that type of deal. So you try to build on the positive and hope you continue to grow and play better.

Q. I just wanted to ask about the problem Mitch Trubisky presents. You had Marquise Williams have a lot of success the last couple years, but in terms of numbers, Trubisky might be even more efficient in the passing game. Is that a fair assessment or is there something else going on?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think they are both good players. Marquise Williams was a really good player, and I think that Trubisky is a very good player, as well. He's very accurate. I think it helps that he's surrounded by really good skill players. But there's no question that he understands the system and he fits it well. He does a really, really good job of distributing the ball. So he's a good player. There's no question about that, and he's very accurate as a passer.

Q. Does it make it easier at all that he's not -- I know he can run but he's not the threat to run that Williams was.
COACH JOHNSON: Well, they have had the same success. Williams killed us the last couple years keeping plays alive and breaking tackles. But they are a little bit different, but they are both really good in what they do, so they are both really good players.

Q. Justin Thomas had a terrific game for you last weekend. Can you talk a little bit about his development and how he's doing as he approaches the final part of his senior season?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, well, he's played very well the last three games, and he can be a really accurate passer when we protect him and he's throwing the ball well the last three games and he's always been dynamic with his feet. He's got a great deal of quickness and he's hard to tackle.

He broke off some big runs Saturday. He hit a quarterback draw for a long one and then he had a couple of scrambles. He had an 80-yard run on a short yardage play that kind of got everybody packed inside and he was able to get around the edge.

So he's playing very well. Hopefully he can continue to play at that level and we certainly need him to play that way if we're going to have a chance on Saturday.

Q. You've played quite a few different young players up front on offense and your offensive line. Can you talk about who has been a stand-out for you there, who has kind of played beyond their years, possibly?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, the mainstay up there I think is -- we only have two seniors on offense, the quarterback and the center. I think that Freddie is kind of the mainstay, Freddie Burden at center. He's a guy that's been a three-year starter and then we have two true freshmen, Parker Braun and Jahaziel Lee, and then the other side, a couple of sophomores, when they are all healthy.

They are young guys and you know, hopefully they will continue to get better, but Freddie has kind of been the one guy.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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