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October 27, 2010

Paul Johnson

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome Georgia Tech head football coach Paul Johnson. We'll go to coach, ask for a brief opening statement, go to questions.
COACH JOHNSON: Good morning.
I think the bye week comes at a good time for us. Certainly we've played eight straight games and are pretty beat up, I guess. We've been fortunate, we don't have a lot of major injuries. But just had a chance to take a couple days off, get cranked back up, getting ready to go play probably the team that's right now the marquee team in the league. They're playing the best. They seem to be blowing everybody out.
You look at tape, Virginia Tech, they're dynamic on offense. Tyrod Taylor is having a great senior season. He's such a play-maker. They're always good on defense. Bud Foster always does a great job. They're always going to be sound. So it will be a tough challenge coming off what was a disappointing loss.
I thought Clemson played well, physical, they got after us. We didn't make enough plays to win the game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Johnson.

Q. Considering that your team already has one of the best quarterbacks in the country, is there anything special you feel you need to do to prepare for another dual threat quarterback like Taylor?
COACH JOHNSON: It's hard to prepare for him. We haven't been able to tackle him in three years. What he's so good at is making things out of broken plays. I was talking this morning, you'd be hard-pressed to go back and look at one of their games where he hasn't scored at least one touchdown, maybe two, sometimes off of scrambles, finding guys behind people, making something you can try to spy him, but you have to have a guy can tackle him. Doesn't do any good to have a guy in there when the guy can't get him down.
We've had a really hard time containing him. Then you couple that with all the quality backs they've got. Their receivers are playing good. It presents a real problem. They're a very talented team.

Q. Considering that your team still has one of the top rushing attacks from the country, anything you're going to focus on trying to adjust, seeing that Clemson was able to shut it down last week?
COACH JOHNSON: I think we rushed 250 yards. We need to score in the red zone. We're probably not going to rush for 350 yards every week. I think what we got to do is take better advantage of our opportunities when we get down there and score touchdowns instead of field goals, maximize that way and see if we can't hit bigger plays.
In answer to your question, we try to get back to the basics and fundamentals. A lot of mistakes we made last week were fundamental errors. Certainly some of it you have to give Clemson credit. They whipped us at times and did some things. A lot of our stuff was self-inflicted.

Q. Coach, Clemson said they spent a week in August working on defending the option. Virginia Tech's coaches went to Iowa to talk to them about some of the things they did against y'all. Did any of your coaches go anywhere this summer to talk about any of the opponents?
COACH JOHNSON: No. Our defensive Coach Groh went to New England to the Patriots and spent a week with Coach Belichick. Offensively we didn't go anywhere, no.

Q. Why not?
COACH JOHNSON: There's not a lot of people doing what we do. I got a pretty good idea what Navy's doing. So, I mean, at times in past years we went to West Virginia, visited with Rich when I was at Navy. We've been different places. Coaches came in here. We had a coach from Mississippi State come in here, a bunch of other schools.
But we didn't go anywhere ourselves. We just didn't do it. No reason.

Q. What do you think is the biggest difference between last year's team and this year's team that might not be happening for you or is giving you trouble?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think there's a few things you can point out to. The big thing is third-down conversions. Last year I think we led the country or were second at 52%. This year we're sitting down in the 30s. Turnover margin, we were pretty good at it last year, this year we're not. Basically we're not getting any.
We just haven't executed as well. I think we've got the offensive line, we had a nucleus coming back that had some starts, but really I think somebody showed me a stat the other day that said we're 105th in the country in offensive line starts, guys who actually started games. That's been inconsistent. No question we miss Bay-Bay Thomas. He was a big-play guy. We haven't had a guy step up and take that role.
I'm not sure you have to take that role. We have to be way more efficient throwing the ball than we've been. I don't think we need to throw it a lot but we need to be more efficient.
Other than that, we're doing just great (laughter).

Q. Paul, what is your approach to a bye week? Probably gives your players a few days off. Do you want them to not worry about football for a couple of days and then get back to business? What is your approach?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, basically the way we try to do it is we took Monday off. I just told them I didn't want to see them around, just out of here. We always take Sundays off. So we're going to start back today. We'll practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, then give them a chance to maybe go home for the weekend. They haven't had a chance for eight weeks.
We'll come back and we'll have a regular Wednesday practice on Monday. Tuesday would be our normal Thursday practice. Then Wednesday will be a travel day for us. Thursday's the game.
Once we play Thursday, we'll come back and probably take Friday and Saturday off, then come back and gain one day for the next game.

Q. Is there an ideal time for an off week during the season? I guess it depends on the health of your team. If you could schedule one yourself, would there be a point where you'd like to do it?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, it just varies. You never know. Truly, you never know when is a good time. Certainly you'd like to have it when you're beat up and banged up a little bit. We've got a brutal stretch of games coming up. It's good to get a break and regroup before we have to go play again.

Q. Since we're on the off week, a big-picture question. Do you vote on the coaches poll?

Q. I'm trying to get a read on the big debate going on about Boise State and TCU. Could you see the argument for or against, if they're one of the last two undefeated teams, or would you suggest a one-loss team from an SEC would deserve it more?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't know who would deserve it more. I would see they would have every right to play for it. I said before, I'm a proponent of having a playoff.
I don't vote in the coaches poll, simply to be quite truthful, I don't see the teams on the West Coast play, I don't see the other teams play, and I don't think the other coaches do either.
You have your game. If you're playing Saturday at 3:30, who are you seeing play? You're not seeing anybody play. You might look at the scores. The other problem I have with it is, you know, when they make your vote public or however, how do you tell your team, I may be getting ready to play Virginia Tech, okay, and I think they're really good, I vote them 10, and I don't vote for my own team, is that telling them I don't think we have a chance, they're just way better than you?
I just think there's probably a better way to do it. That's just my own personal opinion.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, thanks for being with us. Enjoy the week. We'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH JOHNSON: Okay. Take care.

End of FastScripts

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