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September 21, 2011

Paul Johnson

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson.
COACH JOHNSON: Good morning. We were extremely happy with the outcome of the game last week against Kansas. They had beaten us the year before, and we felt like it was very important to try to get that ship righted, and I thought we played very well offensively for most of the game. Played pretty good on defense in the second half. So we are glad to get that behind us.
Now the bulk of the season starts with the first conference game. We have got a really physical, really athletic North Carolina team coming in. They always have a lot of really good players. It will be a big challenge for us. The competition level certainly is going to ratchet up a little bit as it has every week for us.
So looking forward to seeing kind of where we are.

Q. Georgia Tech leading the nation in rushing is not a big shock, but Georgia Tech leading the nation in passing efficiency is kind of an eye-opener. Can you talk about the improvement in the passing game and how much of it is personnel?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't think that it should be that much of an eye-opener. We had a bad year a year ago, but historically we have been in the Top-10 or Top 15 in passing efficiency every, either at Navy or here at Tech. Last year we struggled and was way down.
I think the kids have done a great job being committed to working on it in the off-season. And to this point, we have hit a lot of big plays, which when you hit a lot of big plays for touchdowns and you don't throw it very much, your efficiency rating is going to go off the chart.
We have completed a higher percentage, and for the most part this year when we have had guys open deep, we have been able to hit them; where last year either we get sacked or throw it over their head or drop it or whatever. So that part of it, the execution part has been a little better.

Q. Can you talk about some of the individuals in the game who have really stepped up in the passing game?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, Tevin Washington has thrown the ball well, he and Synjyn both, the quarterback. Stephen Hill has had the most catches and most production but it's been really spread out pretty much.
I mean, it has not been one guy. It's spread out, and we have not thrown it a whole lot more than we have the last few years. Like I said, we just completed a few more.

Q. More of a big play offense capability-wise than you expected to be this year as opposed to methodical, grinding out, running a couple yards at a time type of offense?
COACH JOHNSON: I think the offense is what it is. It's been that way forever. If you go back and look, we have had more plays at 20 yards than anybody in the league every year.
I think the perception is it's grind it out, because sometimes we can do that and have long drives. But the nature of what you do tends to have a lot of plays. If you are count big plays of 20 yards or more, we have had more than anybody else in the league I think every year since we have been here.

Q. Do you feel you took a step forward last week?
COACH JOHNSON: We played better in the second half, but we have to play better on defense. Clearly third down is a concern and we have to do better on that.

Q. Obviously one of the big things in your success is the play of your offensive line, and tell me, a little bit about them as a group and how they have come along for you so far.
COACH JOHNSON: Well, we don't have a senior offensive lineman. It's a young group. I mean, right now, the starters -- starting four sophomores I guess and a junior. I think they are a close-knit group together. We are playing a true freshman in there at times as a backup.
And I think they have just worked hard and quite honestly, the competition level is going to be better as we move forward. So we have not played anybody with the type of defensive line that North Carolina has.

Q. With veteran offensive lines, the chemistry is already there. So this team is still developing it's chemistry and you look for them to get better as the season goes along now?
COACH JOHNSON: You hope that they get better. You hope that everybody does. I think that this team is -- I think they genuinely like one another. And to this point, they have worked hard and they play hard and you know, they are getting what they signed up for.
So there's no complaints, no anything. And I think they are just working, trying to get better, and like I said, really if you look at the starters, you know, Ray Beno, Jay Finch, Will Jackson, Tyler Kidney, they all kind of came in with the same class. Omoregie Uzzi, he's played for three years for us, he's a junior. And Phil Smith and Omoregie are kind of the same -- so you know, they have been together for a while. We were able to redshirt all of those kids their freshman year, so that's kind of what you'd like to have; in a couple of years, you hope that they will be really good.

Q. North Carolina for four years has had C.J. Yates at quarterback and they have got gone with Bryn Renner this year, starting for the first time. How does their offense look different with Renner at quarterback as opposed to Yates?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't think it's a whole lot different. I think it's very similar. They have got their scheme and what they do. I guess if you had to put a label on it, they are close to what you call the West Coast offense or what people do. He's been very efficient. He's completing a high percentage of his throws. He looks to be a good player. They haven't changed a whole lot. Might be better on the offensive line than they have been since I've been here I think.

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