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September 4, 2017

Paul Johnson

Atlanta, Georgia

Tennessee 42, Georgia Tech - 41 (2 OT)

PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I was so sorely disappointed with the outcome. I think there were some positives that we can build on in the game. Our young guys on offense I thought went out and played pretty well. The quarterback, the B-back. You know, the last fumble killed us. I think we've got the game in control down there, in spite of being horrendous on special teams, kicking the ball, I think we could have scored there, run the clock down, and I'm not sure they would have had enough time to score twice, but we didn't, they did. You give them credit. The guy knocked the ball out, and I just felt like we had a better chance of getting a two-point conversion than we did of stopping them. They had scored twice on three plays in two overtimes.

The second half, once they got rolling, there wasn't much stopping them.

Q. Did you fear that maybe the defense wore down a little bit?
PAUL JOHNSON: From what? Let's see. Yeah, they wore down.

Q. They tackled well in the beginning --
PAUL JOHNSON: We had the ball 41 minutes, they had it 18. If they wore down in this game, they'd better get their butts home.

Q. At what point either during camp or the week did you know TaQuon was going to be your starter, and what can you say about the job he did tonight?
PAUL JOHNSON: He played his tail off. I thought he played tremendously, and I knew he was going to be the starter for about two and a half or three weeks. He gives us a guy -- he can actually throw the ball well, too. We didn't throw it a lot. But I thought he played well. I thought KirVonte ran hard. I thought he played well, too.

Q. I imagine this has to be up there in terms of disappointing losses with the way --
PAUL JOHNSON: I don't think I've ever been in a game where you run 96 plays and have 655 yards and lose. Yeah.

Q. With the defense in the second half, what did you see as the problem in terms of just how Tennessee got going and was able to --
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, we never create a negative play, so you never get them behind, and it's like then they get some big plays. Well, they threw a couple jump balls and got them, and we missed tackles. They throw a little stop route over there and missed two tackles; give their kid credit. I mean, he made nice plays. Broke a tackle. But that's it in a nutshell. If you never get a negative play, it's hard to play.

Q. Would you like to see that last play reviewed to see if it was not a forward pass?
PAUL JOHNSON: I don't know. We screwed it up. That should have been a walk-in. That play was so -- that should have been a walk-in, and we screwed that up, so we didn't deserve to win. I mean, they didn't have enough guys over there, and we tried to reach out and grab somebody as opposed to releasing inside and clinging the corner because there's one guy you could have pitched to or run it in yourself, and we didn't do it. So we didn't make the play, they did.

Q. You talked about special teams, the kicking game. What kind of things are you going to look to do?
PAUL JOHNSON: Try a different kicker, I guess. You know, it was disappointing. I mean, either of those field goals ices the game, too. The one at the end of the game is 36 yards. He kicked that thing head high, you know, the kickoff, so you know, we'll give the other kid a chance and see what he does.

Q. Could you explain the play again, the try for two? What exactly was supposed to happen?
PAUL JOHNSON: It was a counter action. We'd set up and we'd run a bunch of two-point plays out of that web thing, a pick screen out of the thing, so we were going to bring the motion, and they took the safety over there, it was going to be a time out, so all they've got left is a 5 technique and a hip linebacker, so we're supposed to be able to release and pull the guard along the 5. Our tackle reaches out and tries to reach the 5 and then the guard turned up into him and there was nobody -- the quarterback had to turn up and there was nobody on the linebacker, and then he pitched it late, but he had to kind of throw it out there. If we do it right, even if we don't block the guys, then he could have pitched the ball and the guy would have been a race to -- we just didn't do it right.

Q. TaQuon rushed about 44 times tonight. Is that the kind of workload he's capable of doing week in and week out?
PAUL JOHNSON: He was capable tonight. You know, they ran the Mike linebacker the whole game. They just lined him up seven yards deep and ran, so they were playing with virtually four guys inside, and we were just following the B-back with a quarterback and run it in there. You know, it was what it was. If they play that way, the quarterback is going to carry the ball some.

Q. Rough loss, obviously. You don't want to start off the season 0-1, but it is the first game of the season. Did you take away enough positives to think that the team has all their goals still ahead of them and able to recoup and hit those goals that they've wanted to get?
PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, I mean, this doesn't do anything to your goals other than it's a game that we should have won, and we didn't. So we've got to play a team here on three days' rest that's pretty good. You know, my big concern right now is those kids on offense that just played 96 plays, and then they have to turn around and play again on Saturday. There won't be a whole lot of practicing going on. We'll have to try to get them rested to play.

Q. It looked like Shamire kind of brought a different level of physicality. Did he make an impact on the game?
PAUL JOHNSON: Until you see the film, it's hard to tell with those guys inside. He's a big guy, and they were kind of sitting back catching a little, and he's -- when you do that, he's a big guy.

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