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October 26, 2011

Paul Johnson

THE MODERATOR: We welcome Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson.
COACH JOHNSON: Good morning. I think that we have got a tremendous challenge this week, no question. You watch Clemson on tape and they are hitting on all cylinders. I mean, they are scoring on defense and special teams, scoring in droves on the offense.
And very athletic. The young freshman receiver is a tremendous player, and you couple that with Ellington the tight end and the other receivers, and their quarterback is playing extremely well, too. Offensively, a bunch of weapons and defense as usual, big, physical guys that run well.
It will be a heck of a challenge for us on Saturday. We are coming off two weeks that we would like to think are sub-standard for us. Certainly we have got to play better and have more efficiency offensively than we have had, and look forward to the challenge. It ought to be a great atmosphere here Saturday night.

Q. Even though it's a traditional offense, when you stall something like that, some kids kind of have to take a leap of faith because it's not as commonplace. How much does success on the field help and big wins help in showing kids that, that this offense can have success against the best in the nation from a recruiting perspective.
COACH JOHNSON: I think any time you are successful it helps. We have been doing this for a long time. We have had a lot of guys in the offense that are playing in the NFL and a lot of guys that have been successful.
I think that there's a lot that you can point to, but any time that you can have -- the more success you can have, the better it's going to be. And certainly more production that guys have at certain positions, it's easier to sell no question.

Q. You mentioned substandard, your word the last couple of weeks; what's your focus this week to fix this or improve that and you'll be back to standards?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, we just have to do better in a lot of areas. We have to play better. We shored up our rush defense a little bit last week. It was terrible at Virginia. And we have got to be more efficient offensively. This is the type of game where you give them 16, 17 possessions like they are used to playing, they are going to score some points.
So you know, if we can make this game eight or ten-possession game and we can be efficient on our end, that's the way you want to play this game, you don't want to keep giving them the ball over and over with a chance. Just you break down, I looked at the Virginia Tech, North Carolina games, and one of them was like 16 possessions, the other 18. So if they get that many possessions, they are going to score some points.

Q. So you mean just hang onto ball as much as possible, long drives, that kind of thing?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, yeah, you want to be efficient. Our games the last couple of weeks and historically the way we play, there's not that many possessions in the game. But what we have to do is we have to be more efficient on the offense and get points out of our possessions and then it puts a little more pressure on the other side.
The last couple of weeks we have fallen behind, and you're your own worst enemy when you have six or seven minutes off the clock on a drive and you don't score. This takes -- we went down 21-7 last week and we came out in the third quarter and we take a drive and go seven and a half minutes and don't score, I think we had the ball four times in the second half. Which means if that's the way you're going to play, if you're down two touchdowns, you'd better score every time you have it or you're not going to have a chance.

Q. Finch got hurt last week, how is he coming along and is there a chance he's not going to play this week?
COACH JOHNSON: He's got a sprain. It's not as bad as we thought but he's questionable. It would be a stretch for him to play this week probably. I don't know that we ruled him totally out but it would be a stretch.

Q. Would Greg come in then or would you shuffle things?
COACH JOHNSON: We have got a couple of options. He'll probably start the game. We have got a couple options. We have got some guys that have been injured that are back out there now and they may play some, as well.

Q. How important are angles and the geometry of the game in your offense?
COACH JOHNSON: It's important. It's a numbers game and you're trying to get numbers and angles and leverage on people. There's no question it's important, but there's still the old adage, physical superiority cancels all theory. So you can have angles and whatever you need but if they are bigger and more powerful and faster, it still makes it a little tough.

Q. Tevin has been trying to take some of the blame on his shoulders for the offense's struggles the last couple of weeks; is it fair to pinpoint it like that and what is he struggling with now that he was doing so well with earlier?
COACH JOHNSON: Well, I don't think it's ever fair to put everything on one guy's shoulders. It's a team game. There's a lot of things that we have not done well.
What's really happened is we have gotten away from big plays. We have not -- when we have had the chance to get them or when we have had them, we have had our three biggest plays the last two weeks called back by penalties. And you know, you can't do that. He was throwing the ball better earlier in the year and I think he's just pressing and rushing. He just needs to relax and play and not try to put too much on himself and just play the game and he'll be fine.

Q. Special teams have been a burr under the saddle for you, talk about that and how it kind of complicates things.
COACH JOHNSON: Well, it was a killer last week for sure. We have not kicked the ball very well. That's the start, when you are playing special teams. And really, going into last week, the punt return team was No. 1 in the conference going into the game a week ago, and we had a couple of young guys make some mistake which is is going to happen when you play young guys. We didn't field the ball and we tried to field when we shouldn't have field and gave up a touchdown. Didn't cover the kick right before half-time particularly well. Was supposed to be a deep kick and we hit a line drive on the ground. Some things like that.
I think when you lose, it becomes a bigger issue. Certainly we have not played special teams the way we would like. I'm not saying that it's not an issue, but you know, you watch the Clemson game and North Carolina returns a kick for a touchdown but it's not as big of a deal because Clemson won 59 to whatever. You know what I'm saying? It's games that you lose in close games, it becomes a bigger issue and it's something that we have got to clean up.

Q. Synjyn Days, is he available this week? I understand he took a pretty good hit.

Q. So may Clemson see him?
COACH JOHNSON: Possibly. I mean, we'll just see. If we don't have any plans for that right now, but very possibly he could play.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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