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October 19, 2011

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON: I think that it's quite a challenge to go to Miami and play. I think that they're kind of starting to hit their stride now the last few games and playing extremely well. Jacory Harris is playing the best that I've seen him play. They always have a lot of really good athletes that can run, and I know Al from when he was at Temple; we've had a chance to play, and I know his teams are always very well coached and play hard.
Coming off our first loss, it's going to be a big challenge to see if we can regroup and go on the road against probably the best team we've played to this point and see if we can't play better.

Q. Certainly you're not alone in having played, I guess, now seven weeks in a row. I think Clemson has, too. Coach Swinney was talking about that earlier, about how he's had to ease up a little bit. If you had your -- if you could decide when your open date was, when would you play it? When would you have it?
COACH JOHNSON: Probably somewhere a third -- after a third of your season or half of the year. The thing about it, it's not just the seven weeks. I think it's -- you go back, and it's the four weeks of camp, so it's actually 11 weeks without a break is what you've got. So it's a little bit different.
You know, it happens. I'm not saying it for an excuse. People do it. But it is difficult. You have to try to gauge it.

Q. How about the fact that -- I assume you have no say in it, it just comes down from the ACC office that way?
COACH JOHNSON: Yeah, it just falls that way. I mean, it's different every year. You know, it's not a big deal. It's not why we lost the game. I'm not saying that. You just have to be aware of it and try to deal with it.
I think sometimes -- any time you say something about, well, we've got -- we've played seven straight weeks or 11 straight weeks and we've got to ease off, then everybody wants to make a bigger deal out of it than it is.

Q. When you look at just how close the Coastal Division standings are again, how stressful is that as a coach, because it seems like year in and year out, it's just so tough for one team to really separate in the Coastal Division?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think that -- I guess it's tough. You just take it one game at a time. I mean, this is -- since I've been here -- the first year I was in the league, we tied with Virginia Tech; the next year we won; the next year Virginia Tech won -- I think they went undefeated, so it wasn't close. This year is back more like maybe the first year when I was here when there was a lot of teams grouped together. But you can't worry about it. You just play one game at a time, and it'll take care of itself, it'll sort itself out.

Q. Is that something that you use as motivation for the players, or is it something that you try to get them to just ignore and just play?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think you always talk about conference games and division games. I mean, certainly you talk about it when you have one. But you can't really dwell on trying to win the conference in September when you first start playing and those kind of things. They're aware, and you talk about it, but you have to take it one game at a time, and then if you can get some wins when the end of October, November rolls around, you're in the race.
We've played a few more conference games than most everybody else, I think. We've had four conference games, and I think maybe a couple of the teams have played three, but a lot of them have only played two.

Q. SEC commissioner Mike Slive has proposed academic reforms, including going to multiple-year scholarships instead of the one-year renewables. Do you have any strong feelings about the multiple-year scholarships?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think there's probably some good and bad involved in it. I haven't thought a lot about it. It's like anything else; I would hope there would be some provisions in there that if guys aren't fulfilling their obligations towards school and staying out of trouble off the field, those type of things -- I think very few coaches take somebody's scholarship because they're not playing. I would hope that would be the case. I know we've certainly never done that. So as long as there's some provisions in it to make sure that guys are going to class and taking care of their schoolwork and living up to their end of the bargain, then I probably wouldn't have any problem with it.

Q. If something like that is passed, should it be up to the schools? Should they be offer different lengths of scholarship, four-year scholarship to a kid you have no questions about, maybe a one-year for a kid you're not sure if he can cut it?
COACH JOHNSON: No, I think everybody ought to have to play by the same rule. If they pass it, I think everybody ought to have to go by the same thing.

Q. I was just curious, do you see more innovation coming up from bottom up from high schools and lower level colleges to the power conference level, or do you see power conference teams and NFL teams doing more of the innovation and it trickling down to lower levels?
COACH JOHNSON: I don't know, I hadn't really thought about it. I think there's probably innovation at every level. Football is cyclical. I think it goes in cycles. Somebody will come up with something that'll be hot for two or three years or longer, maybe a decade, and then it kind of goes away, and then it'll come back in a different form or in the same form.
You know, I'd just be guessing if I tried to give you an answer to that. I think there's probably innovators at every level.

Q. Do you think there's too much group at the power conference level or even the NFL level, or do you think there's quite a bit of openness where people are creative?
COACH JOHNSON: I think the NFL level is probably different than the college level. I think that the nature of the game is probably -- they're more closely geared to -- most of the teams do the same things. It's kind of a match-up game, a personnel game. I think there's a lot of variation in college if you really look. I mean, you look in our league, there's a lot of different offenses. There's spread offenses, there's teams that run power, there's -- we're different than most. You know, you've got gun option teams. I think there's a pretty wide variance.

Q. Under you, Georgia Tech is 3 and 0 after its first loss of the season and winning those games convincingly by about an average of 18 points. Curious, that's probably one of the toughest emotionally to take is that first loss of the year. What's sort of your strategy when that happens, and how are you guys able to bounce back as well as you have, at least historically?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I think that you have to just flush the game. I mean, it's -- we try to do the same thing when we win. We come in and clean it up on Monday and then you put it behind you and you flush it, and that's what you have to do. I think that we've been fortunate, we've had kids here who recommitted that came out a little bit harder, a little bit better. I think as coaches you tend to go back and really put everything you do under a microscope, not that you don't do it all the time, but there's nothing magical that we do or say. I think you have to give the players credit for coming and fighting back most probably.

Q. Your passing game was very efficient the first four weeks, hasn't been as efficient the last three. Are you concerned about that, or is that a product of just maybe playing some tougher teams?
COACH JOHNSON: No, I'm concerned. I'm not sure we've played tougher teams. I think that we've kind of gotten out of sync. We only threw the ball eight times last week, and one of those was a hail Mary at the end of the half. We've got to do a better job executing. We've got to throw a few more high-percentage passes. Just kind of starting, we've missed a couple of passes, in the NC State game, and then the Maryland game we had some opportunities in the first half and didn't throw it much in the second half. And then at Virginia they really didn't have the secondary involved much in the run support, to their credit; they didn't need them. They were able to play with the guys up front, and we chose not to throw the ball much.
We had a few passes called, and we pulled it down and ran with it or didn't throw them. You know, you're always looking to get better at it, and it's a concern we haven't thrown it better the last three games.

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