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November 27, 2013

Paul Johnson

COACH JOHNSON:テつ Good morning.テつ I tell you, it's clearly a big week here in the state of Georgia.テつ Anytime we have our in‑state rival, it's a huge game, quite a challenge for our football team.
Georgia has an explosive team, really good.テつ Three of their losses have come to top‑10 teams, two of them on the road by a small margin.
They're very talented.テつ It's a game that our fans look forward to every year, and our players.テつ We're excited to have a chance to play on Saturday.

Q.テつ Obviously they've had to make a change at quarterback.テつ What do you think about Hutson Mason?テつ What kind of problems does he present?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ Well, Hutson was a highly touted guy coming out of high school.テつ If I'm not mistaken, he may have set the record for passing yardage when he played.
He's been in their program for four years, so it's not like it's a young guy.テつ He hasn't played a great deal while he's been there other than some mop‑up time.テつ We do know he's a good passer and has a strong arm because of what he did in his high school days here.

Q.テつ Obviously they've got Gurley back finally healthy.テつ He's got to be a threat on the ground.テつ You have one of the better rushing defenses in the country.テつ Can you talk about that matchup and taking that away from them.
COACH JOHNSON:テつ Well, that's going to be huge, no question about it.テつ Clearly he's a big part of their offense.テつ He's one of the top backs in the country.
That will be something that we've got to try to mix in with stopping their control passing game.テつ They get a lot of guys out.テつ He really hurts you in the passing game, too.テつ He's a big screen guy, a check‑down guy.テつ He can make big plays out of it.

Q.テつ There are four ACC/SEC matchups.テつ The ACC is 2‑2 against the SEC this year.テつ What would it mean for the league if the ACC takes care of business in those games this weekend?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ I think it would be great for the league.テつ Clearly that's something that gets talked about a lot.テつ Their conference is heavily promoted.テつ If our teams in the league could come out and win the games this weekend, it would be huge for the league.

Q.テつ You mentioned Mason having a strong arm.テつ Can he be the same vertical threat that Murray was in past games?テつ Was that Clemson game for you a matter of going up some really good wideouts more than issues on your back end?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ To answer the first part, we won't know if he's as good vertically as Aaron Murray until he plays for a bit.テつ He's clearly very accurate when you watch the tape the little bit he's played.
Everything that I've heard being in the state for the last two or three years since he's been there, every time there's a scrimmage, every time there's practice, they're always raving about him.
I know a couple years ago when they struggled a little bit, people were yelling for him to be the quarterback.テつ So clearly he's talented.
The Clemson game was a little of both.テつ I think they do have some talented wide receivers and we struggled on the back end.テつ We had trouble playing the deep ball and gave up some big plays.テつ We got caught in cover two once with a safety shallow.テつ The other time we just didn't make a play on the ball.テつ We gave up the deep ball.テつ One we might have gotten nudged a little bit, but the others we just miss‑played.

Q.テつ Did you see Brendan Douglas as a B back in your offense?テつ Did you find up finding other guy late in recruiting?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ Brendan was really a late take for us.テつ I thought he could play either/or.テつ We had recruited him to play B back.テつ We got another commitment.テつ When a scholarship opened up midway through, it wasn't like it was after Christmas, because I thought he was a really good player.テつ So we felt like he could play both, but primarily B back.
No, we didn't add anybody.テつ When they change on you the last weekend, it's pretty hard to add somebody.

Q.テつ How would you rate your offensive line compared to some of your good offensive lines from the past?テつ Have they progressed like you wanted them to?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ Ironically these guys, I guess three of them, actually four of them, this will be the third Georgia/Georgia Tech game they started in.
We have one guy it will be his first game.テつ I think it's been hot and cold like a lot of things.テつ Jay Finch, Will Jackson and Ray Beno, and Shaq Mason, this will be Shaq's third game, but they've all played.テつ This is who we've had as the offensive line for the last three or four years.

Q.テつ This rivalry has been a little lopsided lately.
COACH JOHNSON:テつ A little (laughter)?テつ I think it's been a lot lopsided.

Q.テつ Fair enough.テつ How important is it to turn that around for Georgia Tech fans, to get back on an even footing there?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ Well, it's been huge.テつ Probably not going to get back on an even footing in my lifetime.テつ But to get this thing back turned around where we've got some wins would be big.テつ It's certainly a big game for our fans and our school and everybody involved.

Q.テつ I always wonder about rivalry games.テつ Does it impact recruiting, especially in‑state?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ I think possibly it has an influence on the recruiting.テつ The thing here in our state is the two schools are quite different, different with what they offer in degrees, just different in a lot of things, different leagues.テつ Unlike North Carolina, North Carolina State, they're in the same league.テつ There's a lot of differences between the two schools here.
But certainly I would think it probably has some effect.

Q.テつ I know you were just talking about your offensive line.テつ We have to pick All‑ACC this week.テつ Offensive line is tough for us.テつ We have three lines this year.テつ Can you make a case for two or three of your guys being All‑ACC?
COACH JOHNSON:テつ I think you can always make a case for the guys.テつ I think Shaq Mason, our right guard, has played really well.テつ He's probably the most consistent guy we have up there.テつ Jay Finch at center started every game for us.テつ Will Jackson I think has played every game.テつ Those three guys have played more than anybody else.

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