GT's Paul Johnson on playing Clemson


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Georgia Tech head Coach Paul Johnson Press conference quotes

Opening Statement:
“We’ve got a huge challenge this week in getting ready for a ranked team on the road in Clemson. Without question from a personnel standpoint, offensively, they’ve got a lot of weapons. Both receivers, DeAndre HopkinsDeAndre Hopkins
Jr. Wide Receiver
#6 6-2, 205
Central, SC

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and Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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are great players. I think Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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is as good a back, if not the best back in the league. And their quarterback is playing at a high level, so huge challenge there. Defensively, they always have guys that can run - big physical guys. They are a little younger on defense this year than maybe in the past; new coordinator, new scheme, so that’s always a tough place to play. We’ve had a chance to play there twice since I’ve been here and it’s always a packed house and very loud.”

On the progress Anthony Autry has made…
“I think the most impressive thing to me about Anthony is when he’s gone in there, he’s flown around and played really hard. I don’t think he is afraid of the moment; he has not backed off of it at all. We’re going to play three or four receivers, but we felt like coming off the last game from an effort standpoint he deserved to start. So if he practices well this week he will move into that role.”

On playing in a place like Death Valley as opposed to playing at home again after a disappointing loss…
“I don’t know if going to Death Valley is ever a good thing, that’s a tough place to play. If you’re competitive, and if there’s one thing I am it is competitive, sometimes to a fault, but you want to play again, no matter who or where, you just want to go out and have a chance to play again. We drew a great football team and good place to play, we’ve had some good games with them the past few years, so hopefully if we can hold our end of it, I’m sure it will be a good game again.”

On any comparison to last year, coming off two straight losses and beating Clemson…
“I think the parallel is they’re ranked again, they’ve got a good team. We had them at home last year in a night game. Our crowd was great, and everybody was into it. They helped us, they turned the ball over some early, we got some momentum going, and we kind of hung on and built on that. Certainly we will have to play better than we have on Saturday if we want to beat them.”

On is he spent any extra time dropping in on defensive meetings, making suggestions…
“Yeah, you do. But at the same time, I think that what you have to do is look at it and evaluate, and see what we’re asking guys to do. That’s what I always do. I want to see what we’re asking the guys to do and if they can do it. The last couple games we haven’t done it very well, but I don’t think we have asked them to do anything out of the ordinary. We’ve had some communication issues, but even having said that, the bottom-line is we have to tackle better, quit giving up the big plays, take better angles and every time the ball breaks the line of scrimmage it doesn’t have to be a touchdown. There are a lot of things we can get better on, but there are things we can get better on everywhere. You walk that line because when you hire somebody to do something; you want to give them the opportunity to do it. I don’t want them to feel like I’m handcuffing them, so my position has always been: I give people the leeway to do what they need to do and then I’ll evaluate it when it comes time to evaluate it. Now, does that mean that if I see something that I think is totally screwed up that I’m going to let it happen? No. I’m going to say I don’t want to see that or we need to do something else.”

On seeing fixes and changes on defense by Al Groh between games that he were hoping for…
“Well at times, but I’m not going to sit here and try to defend how we’ve played the last couple of weeks. It’d be stupid because we’ve played terrible. But I don’t think the man forgot everything he knew in the last two weeks, but ultimately we’re responsible. You’ve got to get it on the field. It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s what happens and so we’ve got to do a better job of getting it on the field.”

On the seniors and their leadership on the team helping to rally the troops…
“Well you talk to them repeatedly, I’m with them every day. The first thing you need is everyone has to be accountable for themselves. From coaches, to players, you’ve got to do your job and people have got to be able to depend on you
doing what you’re supposed to be doing. You can be a rah-rah guy and yell and do all that, but if you’re not doing what you’re not supposed to be doing, people probably aren’t going to listen. But we talk about that all the time. If you’ve ever been involved with a team or on a team or coached a team, people say ’Have you thought of this or that?. I promise you we have; you just may not see it. When the game’s over I don’t just go home and go ‘Hmm, boy that was a tough one.’ You replay it a zillion times and ask what can you do to get better here and get better there and it eats at you.

It’s not just the seniors. It’s the redshirts and the people on the sidelines. Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean you’re standing there like a corpse. We’ve got to get the team upbeat again. I think the best leaders aren’t always the most vocal, they’re the ones who are going to go out there and give you what they got, and they expect and demand you to give what you got.”

On the pros and cons of Coach Groh being in the press box vs. the sidelines…
“I can only answer for myself, but when I was the offensive coordinator it was so much easier in the box. You could see everything more clearly, there were a lot less distractions around you, you had time to jot down anything you wanted to talk about or adjust at halftime and it was just less chaotic. Clearly you can see a lot more from the box versus on the sidelines. The disadvantage would be that you’re not having the pulse of the game and when they come out between series, you have to rely on someone else to adjust for you, but you’re telling them what to do. For instance, for most of the years while I was in the box, Coach signaled the plays and when they would come out, I had phones for the quarterback, but they would all sit down like they do now and he would keep the headset on and go point by point on what we told him. That’s kind of the way we tried to do it last week on defense. Those are the advantages and disadvantages in my mind, but for everybody else you’d have to ask them. If I had to guess, it’s probably 70/30, most of them in the box. But there are guys who are on the field. Going forward with Coach Groh, we haven’t sat down and talked about it, I don’t know why we would change but if he felt strongly one way that he wanted to be somewhere, I wanted to make sure we’d try that to see if it’d help. I don’t know if it’s not too early to make a decision on that, but once again, there has to be some leeway. If he feels strongly and there’s a valid reason and he can give me a valid reason as to why he wants to be down there, if you’re going to hold him accountable, you’ve got to give him some leeway to do it how he wants to do it.”

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