Coach Johnson: I'm Excited About Them

Coach Lamar Owens and Al Groh were added to the Georgia Tech football staff today. Coach Paul Johnson talked about his excitement in bringing them aboard and the positives they'll bring to the program.

What were Lamar's game day duties this year?

"He was on the sideline and would have whatever I assigned him to watch. Once we came over to the bench and made adjustments, he was there for the quarterbacks to help out with things he saw to help them with coverage and those kinds of things."

What are you expecting to get from Groh?

"He's had a lot of success coordinating in college or for super bowl teams. He brings a wealth of knowledge. He has a system that he understands. Ultimately, as I've said before, it's a bottom line business. We hope we'll give up fewer yards, less points, force more punts, and do those kinds of things. It will free me up other than an overview in knowing what's going on. I won't have to be involved in actual adjustments and those kinds of things."

Were you more involved with the other side of the ball than you wanted to be the last two years?

"I don't know if I was more involved than I wanted to be. I think that sometimes you spread yourself thin. We played good defense the first half of my first year. The defense probably kept the offense in the game the first half of that first year. For the past twenty games when we played teams that weren't good, offensively we were okay, but when we played teams that were good offensively it was a struggle. I don't think that it was necessarily all Dave (Wommack). We had injuries and we had personnel shortages. The bottom line is that it just wasn't working. To get to where I want to be it needs to work. Coach Groh can come in here and be in charge of the defense."

Did you look at personnel at all when you were looking at Al Groh?

"We talked through it. We talked through our guys and who I thought we had that are players at what position and where they would fit. Ultimately once we start workouts and get out there in the spring we may move some guys around. That's why I hired him. He'll get in here and sit down with our assistants and they'll look at the board and evaluate. I don't think we have a whole lot of guys that can move around. I don't see moving guys from offense to defense. There might be a lineman or two on defense that needs to be on offense. Maybe we'll move a safety down to an outside linebacker."

Were you surprised that his decision came so soon to come here rather than Miami?

"No, we set a time frame. I think with recruiting cranking back up this weekend we needed to have it done. Al set a list of criteria out that he wanted to meet regardless where he was coaching. I think he felt that Georgia Tech met most of those criteria. I think he's excited about coming and we're excited to have him."

You said you wanted someone in place with recruiting cranking up. If not Groh did you have someone else in mind?

"Oh yeah (laughter)."

How heavily will the two of them be involved in the final weeks of recruiting?

"They'll be involved. I think the big thing is that we them to have some contact with the guys that are committed. With our juniors coming out early, it's opened up some slots for us. We still have some guys that we're recruiting. It will be important to get them involved so they can meet some of the recruits. We can go in and sit down and explain to them where we see them fitting in and how we can help them."

How did the deal get done with Coach Groh?

"It was kind of deal that whenever he got let go at Virginia called, like you do sometimes in coaching, to say sorry about that and what do you want to do. He said I'm not through coaching. I still have a lot of fire and energy. I think I'd still be interested in coaching. The wheels started turning for me. I asked if he'd have an interest and he said he thought he would.

I had to decide which direction I wanted to go. Once the bowl game was over and I talked to Dave, I called him and met him over here on Sunday. We sat down and talked. He had been here to watch us practice but at that time, we didn't talk about the job because it wasn't open. We had a good visit on Sunday and he said I have several opportunities out there. If this is something you're comfortable with and I'm comfortable with let's think about it. I said I'll give you a call on Tuesday. Tuesday we talked and he was in Miami. We talked about a timetable and we set a timetable up. He called me and said I'd like to do it. That was Thursday night."

How would you interpret his stats at Virginia?

"They played with their offense and we played with ours. If you looked at their average per play it would be somewhat different. I watched all the games. They would play a half sometimes and have only fifty yards on offense. With time of possession we're holding the ball thirty five minutes. There's a big difference. I think you can take stats and make them whatever you want them to be. What I know from coaching against him is that when you gave him something that was a problem, it wasn't a problem for long. It got fixed. Then you had to go to something else. As a coach, that's what you look for. If you want to see if someone can coach, put them somewhere where they have to struggle to coach. There are certain places where you have a better chance of being successful than others."

Was Lamar the first one that came to mind when you had to fill Jeff's spot?

"Yes, I just had to work through in my mind the whole process. I know Jeff would have loved to have had him on his staff at Georgia Southern because he's going to be a good coach. It was just a question of the fit on our staff and what role I wanted that position to play. I think he's going to be a tremendous coach."

Will there be a special team's coordinator?

"Yeah, we'll probably do it like we did last year. Charles Kelly will take that title and we'll still do special teams the same way where all the coaches are assigned and they're all involved. Charles will assume the role of setting the meetings and all that."


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