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September 7, 2011

Paul Johnson

THE MODERATOR: We now welcome Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson.
COACH JOHNSON: We were excited to finally get back to playing last week, and you know, we were very fortunate in that we won the game and did some good things it, but we had a lot of mistakes and a lot of things that will keep you grounded that you have to work on to get better.
Certainly the competition level is going to increase this week. Middle Tennessee I think has a history of when they get a BCS school from a BCS league coming in of playing extremely tough at home and in the past beating a team from our league at their place.
We know it's going to be a challenge. We have got to get better, but you know, just looking forward to having an opportunity to play again.

Q. Your team puts up 63 points in that first game, you did mention there was some mistake and the competition gets harder; is that indicative of what this offense can do this year putting up that many points?
COACH JOHNSON: Oh, I don't know. It's still really early in the year and we put the ball in the ground way too much, and actually missed a lot of plays that we could have had. So you are always trying to work to get better. Certainly Middle Tennessee will be a much stiffer challenge on defense than Western was a week ago.

Q. The Middle Tennessee defense you saw last year, most of those players are gone, at least the starters. From what you see on film now from their first game against Purdue, what do you see personnel-wise of their defense?
COACH JOHNSON: I thought they played really hard. They are athletic. They run around pretty good. You know, brought a lot of zone pressures. They are not going to sit still. They move around and can create some problems for you. They are not afraid to blitz and man-up. So you know, they are very -- I guess the word I'm looking for is they do a lot of different things.

Q. To follow up on that, when you watched the film of them, what else did you see in that game that caused concern with Middle Tennessee?
COACH JOHNSON: I think they have got some good players and they played extremely well. You know, they probably should have won the game. They led the game for a long time. It looked like they were going to win the game. I happened to see it on TV that morning, and -- or that afternoon, so I watched it before we even got the tape, and I was really impressed with them. I thought they played well, and had every opportunity to win that game on the road.

Q. So when you see film, is that because they have a lot of speed or size or what's kind of the --
COACH JOHNSON: They are not overly big. I think they have good schemes and they execute well. The quarterback played well. They have got good receivers. They have got a veteran offensive line that protected pretty well and on defense like I said they run around and blitz and create a lot of havoc and they are very multiple with what they do.

Q. Has anybody referred to you as Air Johnson yet?
COACH JOHNSON: No, I don't think so.

Q. What were the elements of the passing game? Obviously you had a lot of completions and a lot of yards, and so through a coach's eyes, what were the things that pleased you the most about that aspect of your game?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, our pass protection I think was a lot better and it gave our guys a chance -- and our guys worked extremely hard in the summer on throwing the ball. They put in a lot of time, a lot of 7-on-7 on their own, and I think we were a little better at it. We'll see as the year unfolds. I've said all along, if we were more efficient, that we would throw it more. If we can remain efficient when we do it, we'll probably throw a little more than we have the last couple of years.

Q. Stephen Hill is the kind of receiver that with the opportunity, is getting the ball to him, you've had some good individual receivers down there. Where does he rank with the likes of Demaryius and some of those guys?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I mean, Demaryius Thomas was the first receiver taken in the draft, so we are not quite ready to go there yet. But he had a good game. He's got a lot of physical tools and some ability. We need him to be consistent. He played like we thought he could a year ago. And last year we didn't -- I think he would be the first to tell you he didn't have a very good year. And he's worked hard, and hopefully he can continue to play that way. Certainly he has the physical tools.

Q. All players want a chance to play at the next level and looking at current NFL rosters, there are a lot of guys who have played for you who have made it on to rosters this year. Just wondering to what extent you monitor that, and to what extent you discuss it, because there's always this presumption that your offense is not NFL friendly when, in fact, the numbers suggest that it might be.
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think that clearly we are happy for our guys and excited for them when they can make it. I think most of that comes up -- we get negative recruited probably more than any other team in the country. In our league, we get negative recruited really bad with coaches telling kids, well, if you want to play in the NFL, you can't go there, you can't do this. I think -- I've told guys all along, once we have been here for a couple of years, the numbers will take care of that, and you'll see it.
It's just like if you're a good player, you're going to play at the next level. If you're not, you won't. It doesn't matter what system you're in or any of that stuff. They tell our offensive linemen that, you know, if you go there, you never pass block, you'll never go to the league, you'll never do this. We probably had more offensive linemen in the league than anybody else.
So it's just a question of, if you're a good enough player, you're going to get there. So it will help us refute a lot of the negative recruiting.

Q. Seems like more and more guys are played on off-days, you have a Thursday night game later in the year; how do you weigh the benefits between the exposure at night and getting knocked off-stride with your routine?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, for us, to hope on a Thursday night, opening the season, was okay, because we were not really in a set routine. Historically we have played one Thursday night game for ESPN and TV as part of the TV package.
I think as long as both teams have the same amount of time off and same preparation time, you can adjust your schedule and it's not as big a deal. I wouldn't want to get into where you had multiple games like some leagues do for TV where they have to play on Monday night, Tuesday night. They are playing every night of the week. I would think that would be tough. But for us right now, it hasn't been a problem.

Q. Can you imagine being like Maryland and playing a Monday night game to start and that's your bye week for the year following?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, I think that's doable if it's the opening game like it was for them. You know, you never know when you want your bye week, anyway. It never falls when you need it when people are injured or you're beat up or whatever.
Sometimes if you have it in the middle of the year, you have really got momentum going and you don't want to stop. So I think as long as it's early in the year, it's not a big problem.

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