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November 25, 2012

Paul Johnson


PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Good afternoon.テつ Clearly we're excited to have an opportunity to come to Charlotte and represent the Coastal Division.テつ The way our season started off in the league, certainly didn't look too promising, but to our guys' credit they won four in a row down the stretch, and we ended up in this position.テつ We also realize that in playing Florida State, for the second week in a row we're playing one of the top teams in the country, and it's going to be a huge challenge for us as a young football team.
But looking forward to being there and putting forth our best effort and seeing what happens.

Q.テつ You mentioned those games down the stretch.テつ Was there any one common thread or things that you guys started doing that you weren't doing earlier in the first half of the season that helped you guys really turn it around?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think we were able to outscore people, honestly, if you want to know the truth.テつ Early in the year we hit some spells, we had some high‑scoring games, but we didn't finish.テつ The last four games we got far enough out in front of people and scored enough points to secure the games, and we hadn't done that early in the year.

Q.テつ I was just wondering if you could give us an assessment of where you think your defense is right now in terms of just trying to gain more consistency.テつ Seems like you get a good performance, then maybe take a step back, then a good performance, then maybe take a step back.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, we haven't played very well defensively.テつ There's no secret about that.テつ The last game was probably as bad as we've played all year against Georgia, and they're a very good football team.テつ Certainly they had something to do with that.
But the‑‑ we've played good in spurts.テつ I think we've played a couple of halves decently in the last few games, but it's been a while since we really played a consistent what I would call 60‑minute game on defense.

Q.テつ What do you think it's going to take to get that kind of consistent effort for a full 60 minutes?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, we're going to have to have guys do a better job of looking at what they're supposed to look at and playing their keys and playing with great effort than we've had the last few games for sure.

Q.テつ To kind of follow up on that, your offense has been known for its big plays through the years, and lately you've‑‑ especially I recall against Duke, you had these monstrous time‑consuming drives, and I'm wondering to what extent did you attempt to orchestrate your offense to keep the ball to help your defense?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, we've tried to maintain the ball for a long time.テつ It hasn't just been this year.テつ But you're trying to score points, so we're not saying, okay, let's go at it and have a 20‑play drive as opposed to three plays and you score quickly type deal.テつ It's just kind of happened.
Saturday against Georgia we did a pretty good job moving the ball from the 20 to the 20, but unfortunately you don't get any points for that.テつ And when we got down on their end, we bogged down or they made a play and stopped us.テつ You know, if you looked at the stats, we held the ball for almost 38 minutes and had 26 1st downs and over 400 yards, but we didn't come out with any points, and it doesn't do any good if you do that.テつ It maybe kept them from scoring a few more, but what we've got to do is learn to finish drives, and if they're time‑consuming that would be great.テつ All the better this week especially.
The crowd we're playing is going to be hard to score.テつ We'll take them any way we can get them.テつ Going into the game yesterday I know they were probably top 10 in about every defensive category.

Q.テつ You didn't face the Seminoles this year; is that correct?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ That's correct.

Q.テつ When is the last time you played them?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ We played them my first two years here, I think.テつ We played them in '08 and '09.テつ Then they fell off our schedule.

Q.テつ How different do they look from the years that you played them?テつ In other words‑‑
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, they're very similar offensively.テつ Jimbo was the offensive coordinator when we played them.テつ Defensively is where they're different.テつ What they're doing now is a good deal different from than Mickey did.テつ But they've always had talent.テつ Player‑wise they look similar.

Q.テつ And do you think you guys will have any trouble shaking off the Georgia game since there's a great deal at stake in this one?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, you hope‑‑ you never know.テつ You hope that we'll bounce back.テつ We've got another great opportunity.テつ I'm sure that Florida State is fighting a little bit of the same thing today with their game with Florida.テつ It's unfortunate that it happened like that, but you've got to put it behind you and move on.

Q.テつ You mentioned wanting to give your best effort to Florida State.テつ I'm curious after looking at the film from Georgia if you feel like you did that against the Bulldogs.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ No, I wouldn't say we did.

Q.テつ Can you describe what was lacking?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Clearly we didn't give our best effort.テつ I mean, I think Georgia is an outstanding football team, and I take nothing away from them.テつ They're a very good team.テつ I think this is the best Georgia team that we've played since I've been here.
But we didn't finish drives, we had missed assignments, we snapped the ball on the wrong snap counts.テつ We did a lot of things that are self‑inflicted, and when you do that, that's not putting your best effort forward I wouldn't consider.

Q.テつ Is there anything you can put your finger on as to why that happened on such an important day for you guys?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ No, not really.テつ I mean, if you could put your finger on it, certainly you would hope that it wouldn't happen.

Q.テつ Is there an update with Omoregie or Orwin?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Omoregie is fine.

Q.テつ And Orwin?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I don't know.テつ He didn't play Saturday, so I wouldn't have any reason to think there's any change in him.テつ We'll know Monday.

Q.テつ Were there any other players that were hurt on Saturday?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Not that‑‑ nope.

Q.テつ It was such an unusual situation on your side of the conference this year with North Carolina and Miami situations.テつ What do you say to those who say you backed into this game?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Say whatever you want.

Q.テつ Would you agree with that assessment?テつ When you see what happened with Miami and North Carolina‑‑
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ North Carolina wouldn't even be a factor, would they?テつ Miami would have won the tie‑breaker, I think, correct?テつ We'd have had three teams tied?

Q.テつ Yes, correct.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ So we beat North Carolina head to head, so I'm not concerned about them.テつ You know, that's something that Miami decided to do.テつ We have no control over it.
The only thing we had control over is we were 5 and 3 in our division.テつ That's not the first time a team 5 and 3 in the division has gone to the championship game.テつ You know, we were 5 and 3 and tied for it in '08 and didn't get to play.テつ I think Virginia Tech won the thing.テつ We tied with them.テつ It is what it is.

Q.テつ Can you remember a turning point maybe during the regular season where you recognized a sense of urgency from your players that we'd better kick it up a notch here if we still want to be in this thing and go to a Bowl game?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ You know, I'd like to say yes, but I really don't know because with the kind of season we've had, I don't know that you could say we've had a turning point.テつ I think we played better the last half of the years.テつ You know, probably once we had the bye week, we played Boston College at home.テつ It was probably our best game we've played defensively, actually.テつ And then going on the road, we caught Maryland when they were beat up.テつ Probably the win at North Carolina was probably what people would have considered the toughest game, I guess.

Q.テつ In retrospect, how important was the way you guys handled everything over the bye week in terms of pulling it together and not letting the pieces fall as opposed to letting the pieces fall apart?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I think it could have gone either way, and clearly getting off to a good start in the second half was important.テつ But you know, this group and the coaches and the guys, we haven't had very many losing seasons.テつ I think that it was a goal to try to finish the thing off, and that's where we are now.テつ We need to try to finish it off.テつ We've got another opportunity on Saturday, and we've got to go see if we can't play a whole lot better than we did this past Saturday or we'll get the same result.

Q.テつ So many people before this match‑up was even determined had Florida State winning the Orange Bowl, going to the Orange Bowl.テつ Do your guys pay attention to that?テつ Do they use that as a chip on their shoulder?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, I don't know.テつ You'd have to ask them.テつ We could have had a lot of motivation this year that we haven't used.テつ I think it just depends.

Q.テつ I was wondering if you'd seen the report that the NFL was considering banning blocks below the waist given sometimes the college game and the NFL game follow‑‑ college game follows the NFL sometimes on rules, I was just curious if you ever thought that would be a possibility for colleges, and how would that affect what you do if that became the industry standard?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I don't think it'll happen.テつ I think it would affect everybody.テつ There's not a team in college football that doesn't block below the waist.テつ Not one.テつ So, you know, it would change the way everybody plays.

Q.テつ And not in a good way as far as you're concerned?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, it would change the game.テつ If that's what they want to do‑‑ I haven't seen‑‑ they've talked about that for the last 20 years probably, but you know, I don't know how you ask a 180‑pound back to pick up a 260‑pound blitzer or how you do a lot of things if you don't allow blocking below the waist.テつ I think that it's a phenomenon that's been driven by people complaining and the media or whatever.テつ I'd like to see some stats on it.テつ We've been doing what we do for a long time, I can't think of one guy we've put out.
I don't understand the logic behind it really, but to each their own.

Q.テつ But when you say that you haven't seen a guy being put out by it, are you talking about opponents?テつ Are you talking about your own guys, both?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I'm talking about opponents, both, yeah, the whole nine yards.テつ I mean, I'm not going to say in 30‑some years that guys haven't gotten hurt, but we haven't‑‑ they haven't gotten hurt any more than our guys have.テつ We lost three guys last year to ACLs playing other teams on cut blocks on pass plays, by backs coming out or guys downfield.テつ I say cut blocks; two of them weren't even cut blocks.
But that's why I can't think of anybody you would think.テつ The way everybody talks about it, it's just like a morgue every week when you play; they're carrying guys off on stretchers.テつ I haven't seen it.テつ We just finished a game yesterday at Georgia.テつ I don't think they had to cart anybody off the field, and I don't think they lost anybody for the next game.テつ I think you could probably say the same for Duke or the same for the team we played the week before or whatever.

Q.テつ I'm curious after looking at Florida State on film for the first time, what jump out at you, the defensive ends?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ The speed, athleticism.テつ I think they play hard, they play with an edge.テつ They can run.テつ They're very athletic on both sides of the ball.

Q.テつ In terms of their speed, how would they compare with Georgia would you say?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ They're right there with them, every bit as fast.

Q.テつ This situation, in terms of playing a team that neither side knew who you were going to play each other, I guess it's a little bit similar to the experience when you were at Southern in the playoffs.テつ Do you remember that situation and do you think you have an advantage with your offense?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I wouldn't think so.テつ We've played before, and both teams are going to have the same amount of time to prepare.テつ We have no idea how they're going to line up.テつ They haven't played anybody that's remotely close to us.テつ It'll be a guessing game for both I imagine.
They'll have a better idea what we're going to do because they'll have seen us on tape against all kinds of different defenses.テつ We'll have to guess what they're going to play.

Q.テつ I want to ask you about Robby Godhigh.テつ He's been kind of a difference maker in the touchdown game in the last few games in the ACC schedule.テつ How important has he been down that stretch, so to speak, for you guys?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, Robby has been really consistent.テつ I think he's played well all year, and he's done very well for us.テつ I mean, I'm proud of him.テつ I think he's had a pretty good season.

Q.テつ Has he‑‑ is it safe to say that he kind of has been a reason for‑‑ not the turning point, but to see the wins start coming in the last few weeks?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, he's certainly had a hand in it.テつ He's played well down the stretch.

Q.テつ I also wanted to ask about the defense of Florida State.テつ How much of a challenge is it to face that defensive line particularly with what you guys do?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ They're huge, and they've got a lot of them.テつ So they roll them and they play a lot of guys.テつ It's going to be a huge challenge.テつ They're probably‑‑ up front defensively, defensive line is probably the best we've played or as good as anybody else, no question.テつ Georgia is awfully good at linebackers and safety, and so is Florida State, but Florida State is really good on the defensive front.

Q.テつ I'm not sure if I understand this right, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I think if you guys don't win this game and go to the Orange Bowl, you have to apply for a waiver to get into a Bowl game; is that correct?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I don't think so.

Q.テつ No?テつ I thought that that was under the NCAA's new rule.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I think they changed the rule, but I'm not sure.テつ Our athletic director tells me that we're going to a Bowl game, so I just assumed it was changed.
And again, I'm just going off what he said.テつ I can't quote you script and verse on the rule.

Q.テつ I know you just started to study Florida State, but just impressions of what you've seen on tape of E.J. Manuel and the things he can do and what you might try to do to contain him.
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ We're really just beginning to watch.テつ I've had a chance to look at two or three games, so it would be premature to say anything other than that he's a really good athlete.テつ He can hurt you not only throwing the ball, but he's athletic, can pull it down and run with it, and he gives them a lot of flexibility to do a lot of things.

Q.テつ Is he similar to anybody that you've seen so far this year?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I don't know.テつ Might compare him to the guy at Clemson, Tajh Boyd.テつ They're similar, I think.

Q.テつ Coming from Baltimore, you used to be the Navy coach.テつ Talk about your option.テつ What's been the problem with the option this year?テつ I know a couple years ago you put it in the ACC and nobody could stop it.テつ What's been the issue this year?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ Well, we averaged 40 points a game in the league.テつ Our issue has been more on the other side, I think.テつ But you'd always like to score more points.
But maybe we haven't been as consistent as we'd like in every game, especially out of conference we've had a couple of games where we didn't score a lot of points.テつ But I think other than the Virginia Tech game, in league we scored over 30 points every game I'm pretty sure.

Q.テつ I know you kind of got into the back door of the ACC Championship because of Miami and North Carolina saying they're not going to a Bowl game this year‑‑
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I don't think North Carolina had anything to do with it.テつ I think it was Miami.

Q.テつ Yeah, Miami.テつ What was the feeling waking up on Monday morning going, hey, we're in the ACC Championship game?
PAUL JOHNSON:テつ I really didn't think a whole lot about it.テつ I knew that on Monday morning we were 5 and 3 and in the top of our league, and I knew that Miami still had a game to play, and we all knew that North Carolina was not Bowl eligible because of NCAA violations.テつ So we really didn't think much about that.
So our thought process was simply if Miami wins their last game and decides to go, then they'll go, since they beat us in overtime.テつ And if they don't, then we're in.テつ But we were trying to get ready to play Georgia.テつ We didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about it honestly.

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