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November 21, 2012

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:  Clearly, we have a huge challenge.  There is no question that I think the University of Georgia is currently ranked third in the country and they've lost one game.  They're a tremendous football team, a big challenge, but it's a rivalry game and one that we're looking forward to going up and see if we can't give them our best shot and see what happens.  So looking forward to the game.

Q.  Last week your offensive efficiency in that game, you did not break a lot of big plays, but you had an amazing success rate on 3rd and 4th in the few times you were in the fourth down.  Coach Cutcliffe said he didn't think he had ever seen an option team go through a whole game without a bobbled handoff or dropped pitch or something like that.  Were you pleased with the efficiency in that regard?
COACH JOHNSON:  Yeah, I think the last couple games we've been fairly efficient.  Hopefully, that is the way that we play all the time.  But we've been very efficient in the last couple of times.

Q.  Is the fact you qualified for the championship game, I know you've got the huge rivalry this week and then have to come back with another Top 10 opponent the next week.  How difficult is that in preparing for?  Does it do anything in your preparation for Georgia knowing you have another tough game next week?
COACH JOHNSON:  Right now we're totally focused on Georgia.  If we don't go up there and play well, they'll embarrass us.  No question about it.  So we're trying to make sure that we get ready for that game.  As you said, we'll go from the number three team to the number five, which may be higher after this week.  But it will be a challenge.  It's also an opportunity, and that's kind of the way we look at it.

Q.  I know you made some defensive changes, Coach.  How would you comment?  Have you been pretty pleased with your progress on the defensive side of the ball?  And do you think are going to be the defensive keys to slowing Georgia down this Saturday?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think our defense has been a mixed bag since we've changed.  We've had a couple of games that have been pretty good, and a couple not so well.  But Georgia's very talented.  Murray is a tremendous player.  You couple that with the fact they've got a really strong receiving corps.  The two freshmen tailbacks are good, and they've gotten better and better on the offensive line as the year's gone on.  So it will be a challenge.
The key is trying to get some pressure on the quarterback.  We haven't been able to do that the last couple times we've played him.  He's too good.  If you don't get pressure on him, he's going to pick you apart.

Q.  How has your secondary held up this season?  How do you feel about the match‑up this week with Murray and their receiving corps?
COACH JOHNSON:  I think the secondary can be deceiving sometimes because a lot of it has to do with are you getting any pressure and those type things, but it's a tough match‑up.  Clearly Georgia has some good receivers and an outstanding quarterback.  So it will be a challenge for our guys this week.

Q.  When you made the change in the defensive coordinators, why did you pick Charles Kelly to oversee your defense?  What did he bring to the table?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, Charles has been here the whole time I've been here.  I think he has the respect of the players and the other assistant coaches.  I knew he'd be organized, and I just felt like that was the best move to make at the time to try to finish out the year.

Q.  With this being your big in‑state rival game and all of the implications of that to the fans and players and so on, on the periphery it's also one of four ACC‑SEC match‑ups.  Does that even cross your mind at all, the fact that if you could pull this off, it would be a feather for the league as well as Georgia Tech?
COACH JOHNSON:  Well, I don't know.  I guess you think about it, but that's not the big deal.  Clearly, we'd love to have success up in Athens for a lot of reasons, and I think the ACC would benefit as well.  But there are four games, so it will be interesting to see how they turn out.

Q.  When you have a chance at the end of the day to look back and look at the scores and see how the ACC did, is that of considerable interest to you those match‑ups?
COACH JOHNSON:  Sure, I think it will be interesting to take a look at it and see how it turns out.

Q.  I'm interested in rivalry games in this term.  Some rivalries, the home field doesn't matter very much.  Sometimes it's a big deal.  In this rivalry in your experience, is it a big deal whether the game is played in Athens or Atlanta?
COACH JOHNSON:  Actually, we've probably played better in Athens than we have in Atlanta for whatever reason.  But they've got a pretty good home‑field advantage.  They'll have a big crowd and they can get really loud.  But in this particular instance in my experience in the four years, we've probably played two of our better games up there as opposed to here.  I couldn't tell you why, it's just kind of happened that way.

Q.  In the contract for this series, does the visiting fan get a lot of seats or a few seats or anything different than a normal on‑road split?
COACH JOHNSON:  No, I'm sure it's normal.  But they have a pretty good fan base, and they always have a lot of fans no matter where it's played here or there.

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