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September 19, 2012

Paul Johnson

MIKE FINN:  We're now joined by Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson.  We'll bring on coach, ask for a brief opening statement, then go to questions.
COACH JOHNSON:  Good morning.  As you said, we have another division game this week.  I think it's important, Miami always has a group of great athletes, guys who are good players.  Right now they're 1‑0 in the league.  They have a road win.  We're looking up at them in the conference standings, so it's a huge game for us.
Miami has handled us fairly easily the last couple years.  So we have to see if we can't put our big‑boy pants on and play a little better against them.
MIKE FINN:  Questions for coach.

Q.  What do you think you need to do better or differently against Miami than you have recently?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think we've turned the ball over against them.  We haven't played particularly well offensively the last couple years.  We haven't gotten stops on defense when we needed to either.
Last year's game, we played very poorly offensively.  But in the second quarter, we put together a 90‑yard drive to get the game to 14‑7, let them return the kickoff, then score with a few seconds left to go up 21‑7.  Then the third quarter put together a long drive and lost it on downs.  They went down, scored, the game is over.  We have to be in the game.
I think last year in the game, first half, maybe both teams had the ball four times.  When you get it, you have to do something with it.  We have not been able to do that.

Q.  Given on how you played offense last Saturday, maybe do you think this is a better team?
COACH JOHNSON:  Every team's different.  Our '09 team that we took to Miami was pretty good.  So it's just been a case of they played well and we haven't played as well.
But we've got another chance to play here at home on Saturday and we're excited to have a chance to play.  Hopefully we'll get better each week.  We have this season, we've gotten better each week.

Q.  I want to ask you about Tony Zenon.  I know he's down in the depth chart.  How is he progressing and developing in the offense?
COACH JOHNSON:  Tony's doing great.  He's played some of the last couple games.  Good chance he maybe our punt returner this week.  We're finding ways to get him on the field.
But he's done very well when he's been out there.  We're excited about what he brings to the table.  I think he's got a great future.

Q.  What are some of his limitations at this point?
COACH JOHNSON:  I don't know so much about limitations.  Tony is a smaller guy.  But I think it's just having guys who have played in front of him.  The guys who played are a little bit older and been there, but he's been in that rotation.  The A back spot, we played four, five, six guys in the last two games.  He'll stay in the rotation and get to play a little more as we go along.

Q.  Last year up in Charlottesville they hurt you running the football.  I want to say they had over 200 yards rushing.  Last Saturday they didn't get 100.  A matter of different personnel?  Did you make adjustments in your defense that was more successful?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I think up there a year ago they had 272 yards.  The thing that people overlooked up there a year ago is they held the ball on us.  We had a hard time getting the ball.  We had some big plays called back.  They played better than we did.
This year was a different team.  We were ready to play.  I think we played with some emotion.  They've got some different injuries inside, a little bit on the offensive line.  Hopefully we played better.
We haven't run the ball as well as they did a year ago yet.  But they certainly have good players and they probably will before the year's out.

Q.  Coach, I was wondering, with one offensive line coach this year, have you spent more time with them this year in meetings and on the field?
COACH JOHNSON:  No, not really.  I mean, Coach Sewak has done a good job with them.  Really in meetings there's only one guy that can talk anyway.  You got two guys, they met together.
But we've got a GA assigned to them.  We added a couple new GAs.  Preston Pehrson is helping Coach Sewak.  Actually on the field, putting in game plans, it's the same both years.
The answer is I haven't put in any more time this year than a year ago.

Q.  How is having more GAs to help you guys?
COACH JOHNSON:  It's easier to run practice.  You really struggle to run practice, trying to run scout teams, with only one GA on each side of the ball that can be on the field.
So now with two on each side of the ball, it gives you some leeway to practice, run some scout teams, do some things.  It makes it a lot easier.

Q.  What do the other three do, their responsibilities?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, on offense you have Preston Pearson.  Paul helps with the D‑backs, really runs the scout team.  Defensively Maurice Duncan helps with the secondary and the scout team.  Ben Anderson helps with the D‑line and the scout team.
It gives you four guys, it helps out on the field where you only had two a year ago.
MIKE FINN:  Coach, I think we're finished for the day.  Thanks for being with us.  Good luck this weekend.  We'll talk to you next Wednesday.
COACH JOHNSON:  Thank you.

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