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November 14, 2012

Paul Johnson

PAUL JOHNSON:  We are extremely excited to have chance to come back home and play after road games the last two weeks.  We are playing a very important game for us.  It's a chance to finish the league schedule, as worst in a tie for the top of our division with a win and a chance to get Bowl eligible, so we have a lot to play for.
I think we are playing against a very good football team in Duke, much improved team, and I'm sure we'll have our hands full on Saturday.

Q.  When you recruit a player like Erwin Smith, do you have in mind that the position, he's going to be an A‑back rather than a B‑back or do you let that work itself out?
PAUL JOHNSON:  We just kind of let it play itself out but you have a pretty good idea which one they fit.  But it will work itself out normally.

Q.  What attributes does he have that suit him for that particular position?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Not only is he a good speed and good runner; he's a good receiver and can catch the ball.  He's got some toughness.  I think he would be a good player no matter what position he plays.  He's just a good football player.

Q.  He was telling me that his freshman year he was not that good a blocker and he felt like that probably kept him from getting on the field and that he really worked on that his sophomore year.  How is his blocking now?
PAUL JOHNSON:  It's good.  I think it's improved.  He's still probably not the best blocker on the team but he's very adequate and he's improved in that area a lot.

Q.  I wanted to ask about Duke, you've played them every year and some of the games have been competitive; this year for the first time, they are Bowl eligible and in contention, as you are for the division title.  When you look at them on film, what's different about them this year from previous years?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, I think they have probably got a little more experience.  They have got a lot of guys that have been playing for three or four years.  You know, they have got off to a great start.  I think that they came out of the chute really well and they have played with some confidence and some swagger and I think they are just playing better.

Q.  By your perception have they closed the gap between Duke and the top teams of the league?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, they have always played us close.  Most every year, maybe in 2009 we got up on them pretty good.
But the last couple games have been close games.  I mean, they have been like a score or two‑score games.  They have always played us very tough.

Q.  The shootout, do you look at that as an isolated‑‑
PAUL JOHNSON:  We have struggled defensively, there's no secret about that.  We struggled all year.  So continued work‑in‑progress and we need to play better than we did a week ago.

Q.  Is it a season‑long thing, not going to be fixed this year‑‑ wait till the rest of the year?
PAUL JOHNSON:  I don't know about that.  We are going to do everything we can to try to play better on defense this week.  If we don't, we are probably not going to win the game.

Q.  Is it a single, glaring thing orjust across the board?
PAUL JOHNSON:  I think North Carolina did some good things.  We played a little better in the second half and got some stops.  It's lot of things like that; it's your eyes and playing responsibilities and doing all the things that you have to do to be a good defense.  It's never usually just one thing.

Q.  Why the explosion of long kickoff returns this year?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Honestly I couldn't tell you.  This is the first time we have returned one since I've been here and first time Georgia Tech has returned one, I think it is ten years maybe.  Sometimes it just happens that way and I couldn't give you a really good answer for that.
What did Tom say?  I would be interested to know what he had to say about it.

Q.  Because so many guys kick it in the end zone, sometimes coverage teams might get lazy and the guy that doesn't kick it in the end zone doesn't bring it out.  I was wondering about the rules situation, moving the touch back up to the 25, does that change the approach at all?  Do you tell your guys, bring it out or don't bring it out because we have got better field position if we take a touchback, or does that play into it at all?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Not really, I don't think.  Not for us.  In fact, I think it would maybe work the opposite way.

Q.  I've heard some discussion from people saying that particularly when the two new teams get added that the divisions be decided by inner division game play only because as it stands now, the coastal teams don't play obviously the same Atlantic teams each year.  What do you think about the division is sort of decided?
PAUL JOHNSON:  Well, I mean, that's the way it has been.  I think‑‑ I don't really have a take on it.  I mean, it's been that way forever.
When we played in 2009, when we won the thing in 2009, we had to play Florida State and Clemson, which is considered I guess two of the stronger teams over there, which they are this year.
It equals itself out.  I think it balances itself out.  I don't know that you should just play within a division.  If it's a conference game; it's a conference game and they should count.

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