"Obviously we're anxious to get back to play. We spent last off week trying to work on some things that we felt like we could learn from the experience that our kids gained in the LSU game that certainly we've got to try to fix some of the things that we didn't do quite as well as we would have liked to that we know we're going to see over the course of the next 11 ballgames. I felt like it was a pretty productive week last week.
"Georgia Tech is clearly one of the more difficult football teams in the country to get prepared for with the uniqueness of their offense. It's something that you don't see but once a year. And I think that certainly your football team, the buzz word, certainly defensively, is discipline. The guys have got assignments and responsibilities and certainly with young players, that's one of the challenges is making sure they understand how critically important it is to take care of their responsibility.
"But I think our guys are excited. We've had a good day today, and we'll have our second practice this afternoon and looking forward to playing again here at home.
Could you talk a little about the struggles that Jonathan Cooper had snapping the ball against LSU? And what he and T.J. Yates may have been doing here the last couple weeks to correct the problem?
"Well, I think that John, one, obviously he started and played almost exclusively last year at left guard position. It was his first game. I think it was adrenaline, just the inexperience. LSU is a very, very talented defensive line. I think that there were just a couple of things where they just miscommunicated on snap counts and the rhythm and stuff that went on.
"But we're very happy about Jonathan as a player. He's a very, very good kid. He's very smart. He takes a great deal of pride in the way that he plays, the way that he practices. We expect Jonathan to continue to play extremely well throughout the course of the season."
What have he and T.J. been working on the last couple weeks trying to get comfortable?
"One of the things is we've moved Jonathan to left guard, and it's not a reflection of the way in which he played the course of the game. Cam Holland who started for us at offensive center, he and Jonathan rotated last week. We just felt like to get the five best players on the field, that would probably be one of the things Jonathan will continue like all of our guys, Alan Pelc, and Jonathan as well. They continue to work at center, because you have to have the versatility and flexibility of moving someone in there in the case of an unfortunate injury.
"One of the things we tried to do with our offensive line last week is we played nine offensive linemen in the game. We had told our players throughout the offensive line that we wanted them to gain some experience. And the only way you can gain some experience is to play guys in the game. Whether or not we'll be able to every single week play nine guys, we'd like to have the opportunity to play enough guys that, you know, you can kind of grow some depth while the season's going on."
Georgia Tech has had some home run hitters in the last couple of years, like Jonathan Dwyer and obviously the first wide receiver in the NFL selected was Demaryius Thomas. Do they still have these great threats on offense? Obviously Nesbitt is, but around him do you see these home run threats they've had the last few years?
"Obviously it hasn't revealed itself yet. I think that they've probably got confidence that they do have those kinds of guys. In the first game they weren't challenged enough that they really needed to exploit or utilize anybody in deep threat passing attacks, putting things inthose kind of situations. It still centers almost exclusively that it's all going to start with Josh Nesbitt. In any triple option offense, the quarterback is the most critical guy because that's where it starts, i his ability to not only make the reads but put the pressure on the perimeter to carry the ball out. Whether he's faking it or handing it off or pitching the ball, those are things.
"But I see them actually more explosive and having more speed at the skill positions,maybe even at the slots than maybe in previous years. Going back to 2008 when they were first installing the offense. But three years later I'm sure they feel very comfortable with guys being able to make big plays down the field."
When you played Virginia, Al Groh was the head coach there and that defense probably gave you as much defense as any defense last season. How much of what Virginia did last year do you think Georgia Tech will incorporate into this game and are you sort of preparing for that?
"Yeah, I think a great deal. I think that the same challenges that face the defense faces the offense from the standpoint that we don't see three-four defenses that often. Overwhelmingly the majority of the teams that we play throughout the course of the season are all four-three teams, whether they're conference games or non-conference games. And I think that any time you see a three-four defense, again, it's the same challenge. It's something unique. It's something we don't run in practice, so you've got to orchestrate.
"But I think that clearly Al Groh has got a great defensive background and pedigree from his days even prior to being at the University of Virginia. And we've already seen evidence of the first two ball games that a lot of the same things that they did at Virginia, they're incorporating at Georgia Tech."
Was there anything in particular -- I don't want to bring back bad memories -- but is there anything in particular that Virginia did that was different or unexpected in that game?
"In the Virginia game itself?"
"No, not necessarily. I think that they played their schemes, and they did the things that all programs and like all football coaches you try to put your players in the best position to make plays, and that's pretty much what Virginia did."
How does getting Shaun back help the running game on Saturday?
"It will certainly improve the depth. During the course of the game against LSU, both Anthony Elzy and Johnny White suffered ankle injuries. It really maxed out not only the performance and the depth, but it impacted, to some extent, some of the special teams. Because both Anthony and Johnny had been in previous years, they had been somewhat integral figures in some of the special teams. So getting Shaun back will certainly improve that aspect of our football team."
How much is the confidence level different now because of the fact that you guys played LSU so close despite being undermanned? Does that give you more confidence that maybe we can hang with teams despite the problems?
"I really honestly believe most of your performance and the way you play is mostly directed at yourself. We had a lot of kids learn a little bit about themselves. We learned a little about them in their first game against LSU. Each game is its own entity. Georgia Tech looks absolutely nothing like LSU schematically. So it's new kids learning an entirely new offense and new defense. It's a challenge. They're very good at what they do. They take a great deal of pride in their own personal execution, and that puts a premium on your kids being equally as disciplined and doing their assignments.
"We'd like to think as a football team that we're going to play better. We're going to gain some experience from what happened in that first ball game and continue to improve throughout the season."
What role will Charlie Coiner play on your staff?
"Charlie's going to come in. He's got a diverse background. He started his career early on the defensive side of the football. He worked as defensive line and he's going to work with our defensive ends and with our defensive tackles. We're still in the transition area of that. Art Kaufman and Everett Withers are going to continue until Charlie has gained enough exposure to the things that we're doing. It will be still kind of a collaborative effort of a lot of people, myself included, that's working with the defensive line. One of the real added pluses is that he brings a level of expertise with some special teams. It's, you know, unrealistic to expect in a short two or three day period of time that we'll see the effects of what he'll be able to do.
"But he's been an assistant special teams coordinator in the National Football League, and he's a good football coach. That is the thing. He's smart, he's bright, and he's got good communication skills. He's a good teacher. He's got a unique perspective in that he's seen an awful lot of very good football players and how they play. I think it's a good addition.
"He's got a close, personal relationship with several of the coaches on our staff, and I think that from a chemistry standpoint that was critically important to be able to, if you're going to add someone at this stage into the mix, it needs to be somebody that's got really good chemistry, and really can add and has some enthusiasm. And I think that certainly Charlie will bring that."
He started Monday or he started last week?
"No, he didn't start last week. No, he just started [on Tuesday]."