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November 8, 2017

Paul Johnson

Greensboro, North Carolina

PAUL JOHNSON: Looking forward to getting back home after a couple weeks on the road. Certainly Virginia Tech has another good football team. They're usually always pretty good. This year is no exception. A lot of good players on defense. They do a good job there.

Always ready to play, offensively good skill guys. They're playing well, 7-2. Have a good record and a good season.

Q. When Virginia Tech plays you, how involved are their corners in run stopping? How do you think your offense challenges their corners?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think it depends on how Bud decides to play. In years past they played some two trap coverage where their corners are very involved. At other times it's been some man stuff where they weren't as involved.

They're always going to be somewhat, when you play an option team that runs the ball, the corners are always going to be involved.

Q. No. 31 for them, it's a Georgia kid. Do you recall recruiting him at all?
PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, I remember we recruited him. He's been a good player for them. He's been a starter on and off for his four years there. Certainly he's been a valuable member for their team.

Q. Their defense, especially against the rush, is ranked very high nationally. Of course, you're ranked high nationally rushing offense. What do they do defensively that stops the run so well?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, they're big and physical. As I said, I think Bud does a good job. They play a lot of people close to the line. You watch them on tape, no matter who they play, you don't have any problem finding all 11 in the frame. They're up there pretty tight unless they're playing some type of a two deep coverage or it's third-and-long. I think they're committed to playing the run, stopping it.

They get a lot of negative plays because they get a lot of sacks, a lot of tackles for loss. When you do that, you're usually going to be pretty good against the run.

Q. Over the years as you have played against Bud Foster defenses, have you found anything that's consistently successful?
PAUL JOHNSON: I don't know. We haven't had a lot of success against them. We've won a few. They've won more than we have.

If you find something successful, moot point, it's not going to be there long. You just have to keep playing. We'll run our system. I'm sure they're going to run theirs. Whoever executes the best will have a chance to win.

Q. On the other side of the ball for them offensively, what do you see from the redshirt freshman quarterback?
PAUL JOHNSON: I think he's played well for them. The thing that is impressive to me about him is how tough he is. That game last week against Miami, holy to moly, that kid took a beating. He got up and kept playing, kept running their system. You can see he's got good football awareness. He's really a tough kid.

Q. When you look at their offensive line, not the best protection so far this season.
PAUL JOHNSON: I think it's the same guys who have been playing. Three of the same guys that played a year ago. People tend to forget sometimes when you're struggling in protection, they've played against two pretty good defensive lines in Clemson and Miami. We played both those teams, and we struggled to protect against them, too. They have something to do with that. The other teams are allowed to have good players, too.

Q. TaQuon Marshall's first year as a starter. How has his development come along during the course of the season? What do you see his biggest areas of improvement are?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think just being comfortable in understanding the offense. He's played well. Every road game we've had has been in the rain. He's not a big guy. We've struggled to throw the ball a little bit. I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not.

The bottom line is, we've been ahead with less than two minutes to go in every game but one. He's played well. Up there Saturday, we weren't hitting on all cylinders offensively, but he did lead. We went 90 yards in the fourth quarter to take the lead about three minutes to go. We got it back down to the 35 at the end.

He's played well. I'm proud of the way he's played.

Q. You have a young linebacker, Swilling, who I understand is just a freshman. Tell me about his progress.
PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, well, Bruce, he's been productive, the last game for sure. I think he had 12 tackles, an interception for a touchdown, a forced fumble and recovered fumble. He was very productive.

We have lost Mitchell for a couple games, who was our starting linebacker. Bruce had to go in, start, play a bunch of reps. He's gone in there and done quite well, he's played hard.

Q. Having played both of them relatively recently, not etched in stone, but looks like Miami and Clemson might be the two teams playing for the conference championship this year. What were your impressions of each of them? Do you see that as a pretty even matchup?
PAUL JOHNSON: I wouldn't have any idea. I learned a long time ago not to try to predict games. I think both of them have some really good players. They're set up a little bit differently. They're both really good on the defensive front. They both have good skill players on offense.

It will be an interesting game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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