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January 5, 2010

Paul Johnson


Iowa Hawkeyes 24
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 14

JASON ALPERT: We'll open up with Coach Paul Johnson. Coach, talk about what you think might have gone wrong tonight for Georgia Tech.
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: Well, Iowa scored 24, and Georgia Tech scored 14 is what went wrong.
You know, I think we got off to a really slow start offensively in the first half. We hurt ourself right out of the chute with penalties. And we just never had any consistency offense. We had a hard time, you know, blocking them inside, and it made it tough to run on the perimeter. We could never hit a big play with our passing game. It's hard to get any consistency when we weren't out there much. We were struggling. We couldn't string together first downs until we got in the second half. I thought in the second half we moved the ball a little better.
But they're a very good defense. They had a good plan, and we had a hard time blocking them. You know, defensively we kind of hung in there with them. We gave up some yards in the first half. But I felt like at halftime we'd only be down 14-7, we were in pretty good shape. We came out in the third quarter, put together a pretty good drive. Had to overcome two penalties and we couldn't overcome them. We overcame the first one, and couldn't get by the second one. And we missed the field goal and just lost all the momentum we created. And we ran half the quarter out.
So, you know, we were our own worst enemy. But you have to give Iowa credit. They played hard and played a good game. And, you know, we just didn't get it done.

Q. Was there any sense of a confidence loss? I mean, you guys had run for two plus against just about everybody except Miami. In those first couple of drives did you get a sense the guys were a little shellshocked at the way you did struggle out of the gate?
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: You know, that very well could have been. I think the biggest thing that happened was, you know, the very first play of the game it looked like we were going to pop Jon Dwyer through there for a big gain. And we have a guy that jumps the count. We come up a few yards short. And then I think the second position, we come out and make seven or eight yards on first down and we get caught for a chop block. We can't overcome that.
Then the next time, I'm thinking off the top of my head, we come up about a yard short on fourth down, and then we got hung back on our end a couple times. They punted us back outside inside the 10-yard line. And that was pretty much the half. We never really got much going.
I don't know that the confidence was shaken. I think it's disappointing, because we haven't played very many games like that. You know, even you're talking about the Miami game. Even in the Miami game we'd move the ball and score some. We just had a hard time getting the ball. You know, we had plenty of opportunities in the first half, we just couldn't do much with it.

Q. Is there anything that is similar between this bowl loss and last year's loss to LSU in the Chick-fil-A?
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: No, you know, last year I think we self-destructed on special teams early in the game. This one we kind of hung in there until we had a chance at the end. We had a couple of possessions down three. We were way backed up, but we did have the possessions. You know, we just couldn't seem to get anything going or couldn't hit a pass play to get a jump start or couldn't hit a big play.
I don't know what our biggest play was tonight, but we didn't have a big play, and normally we've had several big plays either off the runs or play action or something. We just could never get going.
You know, it wasn't anything that we hadn't seen. I mean, they lined up pretty much the same way Clemson lined up, and the same way most everybody we've played lined up. They just did a better job of executing than we did.

Q. I know you guys obviously wanted to win this game, but being as far as you got this year, showing the improvement that you did, do you still feel like you guys showed a lot of things you can build on this season heading into next year?
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: Well, yeah. I told the guys in the locker room after the game I'm proud of them. They won 11 games, won the ACC Championship. We're still trying to lay a base or foundation. We've got a lot of areas that we need to get better at. We've got some guys hurt in certain areas, and there are still areas that gosh knows we've got to get a lot better at.
You know, we're going to keep working and try to get there. You're disappointed when you lose, and you should be because if it means anything, it ought to hurt. But you can't let that game take away from the season that they had. I'm very appreciative to the seniors on our team. We didn't have many. We had six scholarship seniors. But they've laid a foundation that hopefully we can build on.

Q. It looked like you were finally able to get some offensive yardage by going outside and toward the sidelines in the second half. What kind of adjustments were you able to make?
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: We had to double their inside guys. We were trying to combo-block and doing some of that in the first half. And quite honestly, we couldn't do it. We missed some blocks. It's like anything else, from an execution standpoint we weren't hitting any big plays. So when you miss the block or you miss the read, you got behind and you couldn't survive it.
You know, if you're making eight, nine, ten yards at a pop sometimes, you can survive a missed read or survive a missed block and get away with it. But, you know, in the first half the ends were able to play two guys because we weren't getting enough push inside. Then we tried to block them some with the B-back and we missed. Missed a couple times. We missed a read or two, and that was it. When you're not making first downs, you're out of there. So they executed better than we did.

Q. Can you talk about the way your defense played. After giving up the first two scores, they seemed to really keep you guys in the game.
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, we kept them off the scoreboard. You know, they moved the ball some. You know, we kind of buckled down after the first quarter, and really kept us in the game because it kept them off the scoreboard there. We had some chances to -- we had the ball twice with a chance to go ahead at 17-14. And we had it, you know, on our 6-yard line, and 8-yard line, but at least we had had it or 12 or whatever was backed up. I guess after they ran the fake field goal we had the ball at about the 12, I guess.
Then the first play we end up reversing field and getting tackled at the 1. Well, I think the first play after they ran the fake, we threw an interception there, so we kind of self-destructed ourself a little bit.

Q. You had just talked about kind of how you thought they'd line up. Was this a case of the physical superiority, the cancelling theory that you've talked about sometimes this season?
COACH PAUL JOHNSON: The defensive line for them was real good. We knew they were real good. I don't lay it all there. We just didn't execute very well. We put ourself behind the 8-ball with penalties, too. You know, when you start out two of the first three drives with penalties and we couldn't overcome it. When you don't have big plays, that's what happens.
There's a lot of areas that we've got to get better at. And that's one of them. We've got to get better inside. There is no joke about that. We've known that.
JASON ALPERT: Coach, thank you for your time.

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