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ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: GEORGIA TECH v FLORIDA STATE


November 30, 2014


Paul Johnson


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Good afternoon.テつ We're excited to have the opportunity to come to Charlotte to play for the ACC Championship.テつ It certainly was one of our goals at the beginning of the season, and we know we've got a quality opponent in an undefeated Florida State team.テつ It's going to be a huge challenge for us but one that we're looking forward to.テつ We had the opportunity to play Florida State a couple years ago in the championship game, and we look forward to having a chance at a rematch this year.

Q.テつ Paul, Zach came back these last couple of weeks and obviously had a great game against Georgia yesterday.テつ How has he been able to be as productive as he has been this season?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think Zach is a senior, and he's played a lot, and the offense has a good understanding.テつ As you said, he's back healthy now, and he and Synjyn both had pretty good days.テつ They rotated and we got about 240 yards out of that position in the game against Georgia yesterday, which was really big for us.テつ I think the offensive line up front did a good job coming off the ball, and those guys ran the ball hard.テつ You know, he's an experienced player and a guy that we have a lot of confidence and trust in.

Q.テつ And I was curious if you had any update about De'Andre Smelter, whether he'll be able to play on Saturday.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think it would be probably a reach.テつ We won't have an update until probably tomorrow when we can get further tests.テつ It's probably doubtful at best.

Q.テつ You hear a lot about the SEC.テつ I'm curious what satisfaction you took about the conference doing so well yesterday.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I was really proud of the conference.テつ I think anybody who plays in the ACC knows that it's a good league, and every week you play against good teams.テつ You know, to go 4‑0 against the SEC yesterday I think speaks volumes for the ACC.テつ We were happy to win our game against the University of Georgia.テつ It means a lot to our fans and program when you win the state game, but also it helps us sitting right here in the middle of the SEC for that to happen.

Q.テつ Does it say something about the relative strength of the conference?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think there's a ton of facts if you want to look at the strength of the conference.テつ I mean, you can go back and look at the conference record against the other power five schools.テつ You can look at head to head with whichever other power league you want to look at.テつ I mean, there are all kinds of things.
I think if I'm correct, the ACC teams have more wins against the power five conferences than any other league, and the next closest is probably the Pac‑12.テつ You know, it's a good league.

Q.テつ Talk about the senior class.テつ I know the last time you guys faced Florida State was in 2012 in Charlotte.テつ Is your senior class going to help all the underclassmen getting ready for this big game on Saturday night?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think we've got a good senior class, but we're at the time of year where most guys don't have to have a lot of prodding to get ready to play in these games.テつ They're huge games.テつ As I said, this was one of our goals when we started the season, and we know we're playing one of the top teams in the country, if not the top team.テつ My take on it, until somebody beats them, they are the top team in the country.テつ You give them credit; I know how hard it is to win games, and for them to have won as many games as they have in a row is quite an accomplishment.テつ You know, our guys will be excited to have the challenge.

Q.テつ Talk about Florida State's defense.テつ Is that one of the defenses you saw‑‑ I know Georgia had a good defense and everybody else you played this year.テつ What do you see in their defense?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, we're just really getting started to break down.テつ Charles Kelly who is their defensive coordinator coached here for a number of years, and I got a lot of respect for Charles.テつ I think he's a really good coach.テつ And they've got a bunch of really good athletes.テつ They run well.テつ They're always going to have good players, and they'll be tough.テつ Charles having been here and actually coached in the offense before, as well, he understands what we're trying to do, so I'm sure he'll have a good plan.

Q.テつ When you see FSU, I don't want to say squeak by, but when you see them get these close wins game in and game out, does that give you more confidence?テつ What do you think when you see them get these close wins?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I see a really good football team that knows how to win.テつ Like I said, winning is hard, and you look and they've won 28 consecutive games.テつ I mean, that's really hard to believe in this day and age.テつ They've got a bunch of guys that are good athletes.テつ They're very well coached, and they know how to win.テつ You know, they haven't blown as many people out as maybe a year ago, but they've still got a really fine football team, make no mistake about that.

Q.テつ I know you said you're still in the early parts of breaking down film, but have you seen enough of freshman running bam Dalvin Cook to form an opinion on him?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, he's really good and really fast.テつ He's a quality player.テつ We played against some good backs on Saturday, in Nick Chubb of Georgia and Sony Michel, but he's at least that caliber, I think.テつ He's got great speed and catches the ball well, and he's a really good player.

Q.テつ Back to De'Andre, can you talk a little bit about what that all means, to not possibly have him in the game?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, yeah.テつ I mean, he's been a really good player for us all year.テつ He's kind of been a go‑to guy, and not only that, but he's a really good blocker and just a really good football player.テつ If he doesn't play, he's a guy that we'll really miss.テつ Our deal has kind of been, hey, it's got to be next guy up, and we've played a lot of guys at that position.テつ Michael Summers, Ricky Jeune, Corey Dennis, some of those guys that have played, they'll have to step it up.

Q.テつ And Tony Zenon and PJ, do you have any updates on them?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, they should be okay.テつ They should be fine.

Q.テつ I'm just curious these last two wins you've had have come against ranked teams.テつ Does that give your guys any added confidence going into the game against Florida State on Saturday?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, our guys, as I've said all year, have been pretty resilient, and they just keep playing no matter what happens.テつ I mean, Saturday was a great example.テつ We had some crazy things happen in that game.テつ I mean, you know, we come out and put together a long, time‑consuming drive to start the third quarter and get down to the 1‑yard line and they end up taking it 99 yards on what might be one of the most bizarre plays I can remember in my coaching career.テつ I'm watching the tape this morning, and I count one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi, four Mississippi with nobody moving, and all of a sudden they came out of the pile with the ball.テつ I mean, really it was unbelievable.
You know, that could have broken the back of most teams, and we just kept playing.テつ You know, they score a touchdown with 18 seconds to go, and we just kept playing, got the thing into overtime and found a way to win.テつ They're pretty resilient.

Q.テつ Did you guys contact the SEC office about clarification on the ruling on that play?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I did not.テつ It wouldn't do any good.テつ I mean, even if they told me they were wrong, it doesn't change anything.テつ Fortunately we won the game.テつ You know, they reviewed the thing.テつ It is what it is.テつ I think the ACC office maybe will talk to the supervisor there and get an interpretation.テつ Unfortunately you can do that, but it doesn't change the outcome.テつ You don't get to go back and do it over.
It was just one of those bizarre plays.テつ Fortunately we played through it.

Q.テつ Question about how this process works in terms of preparation for a team that wasn't on the regular season schedule.テつ Obviously we know that you do a lot of preparation for the teams that are on your slate in the off‑season and pre‑spring and then also during the summer doing a lot of your game planning.テつ How much do you guys actually look at potential championship game opponents and that sort of thing in that period to do a little bit of pre‑planning versus actually sort of starting from scratch at this point in the season?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ We haven't done any of it, really.テつ We've had our plate pretty full.テつ I mean, our last few games have been Clemson and Georgia, and we had our plate full with that.
We'll get started in earnest on Florida State today, and our workweek will be typical of just another game in the season.テつ While we know it's the championship game, I think that's the only way we can approach it.
You know, we've played them before.テつ The one difference would be the defense has changed a little bit with Charles being the coordinator, but Jimbo, we've played them before when he was the offensive coordinator and the head coach, and he has his system.テつ We usually try to get ready for systems, not so much individual players.

Q.テつ I was wondering if you remember the first time you met Charles Kelly and how that relationship started.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, well, Charles was on the staff when I took the job here, and I was just really, really impressed when I got here with his work ethic and the way he approached things.テつ You know, we went out on the road recruiting a little bit and got to know him, and I can remember telling him, you know, Charles, I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to do with the staff or how I'm going to work the thing, and I said, I really appreciate what you're doing in trying to hold a recruiting class together, this, that and the other.テつ I remember the comment he made back to me, my dad told me a long time ago, if you're taking somebody's money, you'd better do the job.テつ It just really impressed me.テつ As I got to know him, I think he's a really good football coach.テつ He relates well to the kids.テつ I think he's a good man with a good family.テつ I've got a lot of respect for Charles.テつ I think a lot of him.

Q.テつ In that 2012 season when he became the defensive coordinator, do you feel like the defense was able to kind of take steps forward despite the change and kind of grow throughout the year?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Yeah, I think he took a tough situation and really did a good job.テつ I think probably part of the way we played against Florida State in the championship game helped him get the job there.
You know, Charles is a good coach.テつ Wherever he's at or whatever he's doing, he's going to do a good job.

Q.テつ Do you have any thoughts about the fumble, the other fumble that Justin had, incomplete pass, fumble?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ The only thing I know is when I talked to the supervisor of officials, or communicated, let's say communicated, his stance was that they've been told that anything that's remotely close to a pass is supposed to be called a pass.テつ You know, again, it was kind of a different situation.テつ He would probably be the guy to talk to about that because I think he's the guy that's going to be in touch with SEC people.

Q.テつ Doug Rhodes you're talking about?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Doug Rhodes, correct.

Q.テつ Talk about the wide receiver corps for Florida State with Greene and Wilson.テつ How are you going to stop them on Saturday night?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, they've got a talented corps of people.テつ I think Greene's numbers speak for themselves.テつ They've got a bunch of kids that can run, very skilled athletes.テつ They're going to have one of the top five recruiting classes in the country every year, and they've got a Heisman Trophy quarterback throwing it to them.テつ That's how you win 28 games in a row.テつ They're pretty good.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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