QUOTABLES: Paul Johnson

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson fielded questions from the media on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Well, good morning. I was proud of our football team Saturday against Virginia. I think Virginia has a good football team, very talented, and we were fortunate enough to get out of there with a big win.

Again, going on the road this week to Carter-Finley, which is a tough place to play. I think they had a big win a week ago, very impressed watching their quarterback on tape. I think he's a tremendous athlete, a good player, and I've been really impressed with their interior defensive line guys. I think that they play very well, too.

Challenge for us, and hopefully we're just trying to keep the thing going and see if we can stay in the race for the Coastal Division.

Looking at this NC State team, to go a little bit deeper into it, what have you seen out of Dave Doeren and his leadership and what they've been able to put on film as far as what you've been able to take away?
Well, I think they had a great start to the season. They came out and got started and went 4-0 and were playing really well, and then they hit a really tough part of the schedule.

You go Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, Boston College, that's four pretty good teams in a row. They've been resilient. I think they've been in most games all the way through, and they continue to play hard. They have their share of good athletes like everybody else, and they certainly haven't been an easy out for anybody.

And as you look at your team and the growth that you've been able to have, I know you talk a lot offensively about the option and all the different things you can do, but on the defensive side of the ball, have you seen some of your key areas improve, and if so, where would you say you've really started to see some improvement this season from maybe prior years or maybe earlier on in the season?
Well, we've struggled defensively this year. I think the last game against Virginia was the best game we've played this year, so hopefully we can take that momentum and build on it. We've got a fairly young group over there, and other than the Pitt game, we created a bunch of turnovers, which hopefully was a little bit of a turning point, and then last Saturday we played much better and finally got some people off the field on 3rd down.

You know, I'm hoping that our defense will have another good day on Saturday. Certainly we'll need that to happen to have a chance to win the game.

The last three games obviously you put up a good number of points. Has your offense got a different gear? What's been different the last three games for you offensively than maybe the previous three games to that?
Well, I don't know. I think if you go back and you look, we've been fairly efficient most of the year offensively. If you look-- I always try to break the thing down by scores, by possession. I think that's the way for us anyway because we're not going to try to get 16, 17 possessions. I don't think it helps our team to do that, especially not right now.

But you know, I think we've been efficient. We've hit some big plays, and truthfully in the Pitt game, we got some great field position and some turnovers, and we had pretty favorable field position on Saturday at times, especially to start the game with the wind.

It's just been a combination, and we kind of went into a little bit of a lull there for the second quarter offensively in the game Saturday. We've got to stay away from that and keep our foot on the gas when we get ahead.

Talk about NC State and what you see on film.
Well, again, I think it all starts with their quarterback. I think that he's a dynamic guy. He's got a good arm, strong arm. I think when he gets time, he's pretty accurate, and he's very elusive.

He's a good scrambler, good runner in the pocket, and they have a stable of pretty good backs, some veteran offensive linemen who have played, and then you get on the flipside defensively, and they played a-- what did they have in Saturday's game, like eight sacks or 10 tackles for loss, and scored a touchdown. They played very well, too, and I've been impressed with their defensive line. The inside guys against the run game and the outside guys coming off the edge rushing.

You know, like I said, they haven't been an easy out for anybody.

Talk about playing at that stadium. Why is it so difficult for visitors to play there?
Well, they always have a great crowd. I think no matter how they're doing or what the deal, they've got a great fan base and they're kind of right on top of you and loud. I remember the last time we played there, we jumped on them really quick, and their fans never really got out of the game. It's just a tough place to play.

I wanted to ask about Synjyn Days playing D-back now with Laskey out. Can you talk about the job he's done at that position?
Yeah, well, Synjyn is a guy that's got pretty good size. He's probably 225, 230, and solid, well-built, strong kid. He's a good athlete. He's come in and we haven't missed a beat. He's played very well. I think he played better last week than the week before, and hopefully he'll do the same this week.

But he's a guy we've got a lot of confidence in, and I felt like when he had to play that he would be fine in there. We miss Zach, but he's done a good job, and I don't think that we've dropped off a whole lot there.

Are there a lot of backs that can make that transition in your system from A-back to B-back, or is that something that only a few guys can do both?
Well, we've done it a couple times. I mean, Jonathan Dwyer did it, he played both; Anthony Allen played both; Synjyn has played both. We've had three or four. But you have to be a good athlete to be able to do that.

And last thing, I just wanted to ask, they probably know in Atlanta but I'm just curious up here, what is the prognosis on Laskey? Is there any chance he comes back anytime soon?
Yeah, there's a chance, but we'll see. There's always a chance. We'll know for sure on Thursday how he's progressing, and we'll just have to see what the doctors say to let us know on Thursday.

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