@GTPaulJohnson Quotes on #GTvsVT
Coach Johnson discussed the upcoming Virginia Tech game with the media on Tuesday morning
Full Paul Johnson Press Conference Audio
"Well, excited to be finally getting into conference play. Certainly we've got a huge challenge this week going into Blacksburg. That's a tough place to play. Not very many people go in there and come out with a win. I think I saw that they were 9-1 in their last 10 conference openers at home. We've got a lot we need to work on, but we're still 3-0. I think there's 23 teams in the country that are 3-0 so we're fortunate to be one of those. We're going to continue to work, continue to get better and excited to open up conference play."
Virginia Tech's aggressive defense
"They're always good on defense. This is no exception. They play a very aggressive style with a lot of guys close to the line of scrimmage and lot of man coverage. They challenge you to beat them out at the corners. That's no different. Last year we had a hard time holding on to the ball. We were our own worst enemy against them. We're anxious to have another shot at them. They've had our number the last couple of years and there have been some really close games. From two years ago in overtime which was a game we let get away. We scored to go up with about 40 seconds to go and let them put it into overtime. And then last year we really struggled with turnovers and didn't do very much offensively."
Virginia Tech's 3rd down success
"They're very aggressive. They're blitz oriented and stunt oriented so they create a lot of third and longs for people. They've got a lot of sacks and lot of lost yardage plays. You end up in a lot of third and longs against them. And I don't care who you are, nobody's going to make third and long very consistently. The key to being good on third down is trying to stay out of long yardage situations. The few you do have in the game, if you can convert half of them, you're going to be pretty good on third down."
Virginia Tech has forced a turnover in every game
"They're aggressive. They force turnovers. The good news is that they've turned it over in every game too. What we've got to do is to try to minimize our turnovers. If we can go up there and play without one and if we get two or three, that's usually a good sign. You don't lose many games that you win the turnover battle."
Playing a complete game
"The first game I'm going to throw in the wash. That's the first game for a lot of new guys and sometimes that happens. And they're a hard team to play.
The second game, I don't know so much as if it was a lack of focus as much as it was the way the thing started with momentum. You turn the ball over on the first play. Their first possession they get a touchdown on a deflection that you thought you were going to get an interception. And then with young guys they were able to put together two long scoring drives. If you think about it, really offensively in the first half we didn't play badly. We turned the ball over the first play and on the third series we dropped a pitch. I'm not sure that has as much to do with focus as it does execution. Then once we got going and we held onto the ball they had a hard time stopping us. We played a little better on defense in the second half than in the first half.
The last game you talk about at halftime and you talk about before the game but you can't relax. The guys came out. You think you've got them stopped. Then because of a penalty you don't have them stopped. They hit a big play and they go in and score. Then our first play we don't run a real good route and make a bad throw. The second play we miss our blocks. Third down you can't make it so then you're three and out and they score again. So then you come back and you're driving the ball, you're driving the ball. You get to about midfield and you've got a third and five and inexplicably the quarterback goes the wrong way. I mean we've got what we want. So there's three series on offense you don't score. What people don't realize is that we had the ball five times. It's not a game where if you miss your turn you get it back and then they get it back and you get it back. They were scoring and you have to give them some credit. We gave up some big plays some of which were our fault and some of which they just made plays. They hit two nice throws deep. The guy dropped them in there and the guy caught the ball. And in college sometimes when momentum gets going it's hard to get it stopped. The next time we get the ball we're driving down and we get a penalty. That's major when you can't miss a turn. It's just one of those things. The guys relaxed. The thing that was disappointing to me was the mistakes we made in the second half - the unforced stuff. You've got a guy that's supposed to be on the pitch and he takes the quarterback. A guy that's supposed to be on this and does something else. Or the quarterback throws it to the wrong side of the field. Those kind of things that are self-inflicted. Sometimes with a young team that's going to happen."
Justin Thomas' first game-winning drive
"We just played. We blocked him and we hit a couple option plays. We hit a couple quarterback draws. It was nothing spectacular. We converted on third downs. Twice on quarterback draws and twice on something else. Guys just made plays. We really weren't in a one minute situation. We had time. We had three timeouts and four minutes. We had plenty of time. It wasn't a rush job. We didn't want to score quickly. The last thing I wanted to do was score in a minute and give them the ball back. Now we would have taken it if it broke. But it worked out great."
Justin Thomas on the big stage
"I don't think he's natured at all that way. If he is, he keeps it pretty much to himself. He doesn't get real excited and he doesn't get real down. We had a talk after the Tulane game when he got off to a bad start that he got his dauber in the mud a little bit. At quarterback you can't do that because people look at your body language and play off of you. He's pretty good a being cool, but it's going to be another test for him. Conference game on the road, hard place to play and the defense coming real aggressively. It'll be a huge test for him. I think he's excited to have the chance to go against them."
Justin Thomas' leadership
"You know why guys follow anybody? It's because they believe that he's going to help them achieve their goals. That's the only reason anybody follows anybody. If it feels like `Hey I can count on this guy and he's got my back and he's going to help me get to where I want to go. So I'm going to sell out and I'm going to do everything I can to help him because he's doing that for me.' The best leaders are those guys. You can do all the talking you want, but when if I'm playing and I turn the film on and I see you lollygagging and you aren't busting your butt. Don't talk to me. I may not say anything, but I'm tuning you out. You're talking the talk, but you're not walking the walk. I want to see if it's third down and short if you're willing to put your head down and go in there when I've buddied myself trying to block the guy. Or if you're going to lay down on me. If you're going to lay down, I'm not sure I want to strain myself to help you. I think it comes from that. I don't care what you're playing. It could be jack rocks. You want to be on a team with guys that are competitive, that you can count on and that know it matters."