Johnson: Neither the Jackets Nor Tigers Did Anything Illegal


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As his team wraps up their preparation for Thursday night’s ESPN contest against the University of Miami, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said he wanted to put the controversy regarding an illegal substitution, a key no-call in their win last week against Clemson, to rest.


Johnson said that in his opinion, neither the Jackets nor Tigers did anything illegal in the game, and that resorting to that kind of trickery is just football and is something he has seen for years, and that he even told the ACC officiating crew what he planned before the game even started.

“The officials were told before the game exactly what was going to happen,” Johnson said on Wednesday. “Everybody is trying to make something out of that.”

The Jackets had their offense on the field when the whistle blew to start the play on fourth down, and the offense left the field to make room for the kicking team to attempt what would have been a 51-yard field goal. Instead, kicker Scott Blair hit a wide-open Demaryius Thomas down the right sideline for a touchdown. Later in the game, Clemson hid receiver Marquan Jones on the sideline right before his long reception led to a Clemson touchdown, and both plays have since been deemed illegal by Doug Rhoads, the ACC’s Coordinator of Officials.

Johnson said that Thomas never left the field between downs, and in his opinion there should be no controversy regarding the play.

“What happened was, we had the offense on the field, and then they blew the ball ready for play, so everybody was inside the numbers,” Johnson said. “Then we ran the extra point team on the field with 10 guys, and the offense off the field. Thomas has been a wing on the extra point team, at times, so he just came all the way out and split out right inside the line judge. He looked the guy, he said ‘Ok, you’re on the line’ and we got the ball snapped.”

Johnson said he found out later about the violation, but it’s something he has seen for years.

“After the game, the ACC said it was a violation, and we said ok, if that is the case then we won’t do it anymore,” Johnson said. “We have done it before and it has not been a problem. I know there is a rule about deception with a substitution, but my thing is, what about when you have 40 guys huddled on the sidelines and then you run in and snap the ball, or you swap four or five guys out at one time. It’s all in how you read the thing.”

Johnson said that when Clemson did the same thing with Jones later in the game, he didn’t consider it illegal, but instead thought his team should have covered the play better.

“Clemson did the same thing to us, and left a guy on the sidelines, and in my mind we should have seen him,” he said. “But I don’t see where the issue is, especially when I told the officials before the game what we were going to do. If you have a trick play, you tell them what is going to happen. If it had been illegal, they should have told us then.”

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