Paul Johnson Weekly Press Conference: Game 10

Nov. 14, 2017

PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO

PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO

Opening statement:
“Clearly, we were pleased with the result on Saturday [vs. then-No. 17 Virginia Tech]. It’s a game where I was happy for our players. I thought they played hard … They showed resiliency at the end, played through some adversity and found a way to win the game. So it was a good way to end and now it makes this game bigger this week against a Duke team that really would be hard to explain. I think they’ve lost four games by one score, they’re top 25 in defense and return a good nucleus on offense but have struggled to score points so far this year. Last year, our game with them was kind of a shootout. It was kind of like last man standing, whoever had the ball last. So who knows? It’s always a tough place to play and we expect that we’re going to get their best shot when we go up there Saturday.”

On the challenge of playing Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium:
“We’ve got a lot to play for. We’ve got a lot on the line. We’ve got a chance to get win No. 6, which is huge in a season where you only play 11 games. So [there] is no excuse. If you’re going to play a football game, then you’re going to need to block all that out anyway and focus in on what you need to accomplish.”

On Duke’s defense:
“I think their two linebackers are really good. [Joe] Giles-Harris and [Ben] Humphreys are both really good players. They’ve got two good inside guys and their defensive end, [Tre Hornbuckle], is a good player. And in the secondary, they’re experienced with a couple of guys. They’ve got a couple new guys back there but [Alonzo] Saxton [III] is a senior and [Jeremy] McDuffie played a lot. They’re really opportunistic on defense. They blitz a lot, stunt a lot, and try to create negative plays and turnovers. That’s kind of been their M.O.”

 

 

On playing so many tough defenses this season:
“The [ACC] is different this year. Last year, you had all those marquee quarterbacks. You had DeShaun Watson and [Mitch Trubisky] ... Everybody had a guy. This year, it’s really more of a defensive league, if you will. Most everybody had to replace the quarterback. Clemson had to replace the quarterback, we had to replace the quarterback. Really everybody in the Coastal except for Duke … It’s kind of changed from a year ago when everyone was high-flying on offense.”

On whether Duke has tried to throw the ball deep this season:
No, just the opposite, really. I think that they take some shots deep, but nothing is different than what they’ve done. Most like anybody who does what they do, they’re most successful when they can run the ball. And when they get their running game going, they can play action and do some [run-pass option] stuff, they’ve been more successful.”

On Georgia Tech’s current goals and objectives:
“You have a chance to be bowl eligible. You have a chance to have a winning season. And if you like to play football, you should like to play. You’ve got two games left. If it’s important to you, every time you go out there, you should want to play. Especially trying to get to six wins is a big deal. It’s not where the goals were set to begin [the season] but it’s where they are now.”

On KeShun Freeman’s role as a senior leader:
“I think KeShun has been a four-year starter and a big part of the program. I think his role, he’s as big a leader off the field as he is on the field. Maybe even more so. I think that he is a quality person and he’s a great role model for the younger guys to look to try to achieve some of the things that he’s achieved. But he’s had success as much off the field as he has on the field.”

On whether more players will rotate across the offensive line against Duke:
“We haven’t been able to go into a game yet that we’ve had more than six guys on the offensive line. So it depends on how many we have. If we have seven, then there’s a rotation. If you have six, it’s less. So it just depends on how, when we get there, how many guys we [have] ready to go.”

What does it say about the ACC to potentially have two teams in the College Football Playoff field:
“I’ve said all along that the league is really, really good. It’s good from top to bottom. [Clemson and Miami] are both good teams. I’m not going to get in the middle of that one. They’ll have a chance to play each other. But every week, they’re both [playing] good teams. If you look at the games, you look at Clemson … with NC State, against Boston College, they were tied in the fourth quarter. It’s not like they’re boat-racing the league. Our game against Miami [went] to the last play. So there are some good teams in the league and we’ve had a heck of a schedule. We’re going to have played five ranked teams, three in the top 10 and the No. 2-ranked FCS team in the country as well.”

On the possibility of having Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Brant Mitchell on the field together at the same time:
“I mentioned it to coach [Ted] Roof that I thought it’d be a good idea to kind of cross-train Brant [at both linebacker positions]. Because then if something happens, you could put him in at the same time [as Bruce] and it also gives you a three-man rotation. And Bruce has been really productive when he’s played. And so has Brant. I just think it makes everybody better when you can give someone a series off or whatever and Brant would probably be the guy to cross-train. And that way Vic [Alexander] plays his spot and Bruce can play the one spot and Brant would be the guy, being a little bit more experienced, that could rotate. I don’t know if we’ll do it this week but it’s something … All those guys will be back next year.”