Oliver shuts down Johnson

ATHENS – How'd Paul Oliver feel after intercepting a pass to seal the finest game of his collegiate career?

"My foot was cramping," Georgia's junior cornerback said. "I couldn't feel too much else."

It sunk in moments later, though. Oliver held Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, an All-American considered by most the best receiver in the nation, to two catches for 13 yards in a 15-12 Bulldog victory.

"I don't know if there are any kind of words to describe it," defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said of Oliver's performance. "Tonight we put it all on Paul. We said, ‘You've got to shut him down because we have to commit the extra defender to the box to stop the running game.' To do what he did, that's hard. That tells you what kind of player he is. He rose to the challenge."

Johnson, whose two receptions came on screen passes in the first half, refused to comment as he left the Sanford Stadium field, and he did not come to the post-game interview room. Only once in his brilliant career has Johnson caught fewer than two passes.

"We were shooting for something like that," Oliver said. "Anytime you play against a player like that, you want to do good, but two catches for 13 yards and no touchdowns, that is kind of a dream game."

Oliver's brightest moments came late in the third quarter as the Yellow Jackets threw back-to-back jump balls to the 6-foot-5 Johnson on second-and-goal and third-and-goal and the 6-foot Oliver, in single coverage, broke up the pass both times.

"Most people say that's a gimme with Calvin Johnson, but we prepared for that all week," Oliver said. "He can jump out of the stadium so you can't try to jump with him, just play the ball."

The Bulldogs have limited Johnson to seven catches for 71 yards and one touchdown in the last three seasons. He's had 15 single games with better numbers in the same time span.

"Paul played great against a great player," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

Martinez also credited a defensive line and linebacker group that kept Tech quarterback Reggie Ball on the run.

"We were able to put pressure on Reggie, force him to throw it quicker than he wanted to," Martinez said. "There were a couple times Paul was in bad shape, but he recovered because the ball was either thrown late or wasn't thrown perfect."

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