1. A-back Dennis Andrews, cornerback Lynn Griffin and wide receiver Darren Waller are all on the depth chart after serving two-game suspensions for violations of team rules or the Tech student-athlete conduct policy.
Johnson said Waller will play and Andrews and Griffin’s playing time will be determined by their practices this week.
“We felt like he’s had a good fall camp,” Johnson said of Andrews. “He’s good with the ball in his hands, he’s a really good route runner. How he practices will determine how much he plays. Bu I can fully see a scenario where he gets to play this week and gets in the rotation.”
2. Georgia Southern has Johnson’s full attention. He said the Eagles have good athletes and good team speed and expects great effort from them.
“If (players) are concerned about Virginia Tech (the Jackets’ next opponent), they’re going to be really sorry come Saturday afternoon, because I promise you, Georgia Southern’s not looking forward to South Alabama, or whoever they play,” Johnson said. “Focus on the one at hand. To be honest, I haven’t even thought about Virginia Tech.”
Under first-year coach Willie Fritz, Georgia Southern runs an offense different than the one used by Jeff Monken, the former Tech assistant now at Army.
“They’re a pistol team,” Johnson said. “They’re still option oriented, but it’s different than when Jeff was there, although Jeff had varied a lot from what we were doing. I don’t know ‘a lot,’ but he’d varied some.”
3. Johnson downplayed the significance of playing the team where he first began running his spread-option offense and won four national championships, two as offensive coordinator and two as head coach.
“I haven’t even thought about that aspect,” he said. “I’m just thinking about getting ready to play them.”
4. On Tech converting 68 percent of its third downs (15/22): “Just staying out of third and long. The nature of what we do, if you go back and look, we’re probably over 50 percent every year. The best way to do that is to stay out of third and long. We’ve been pretty good. For us, unlike a lot of teams, third-and-5 doesn’t mean it’s got to be a pass.”
5. End Roderick Rook-Chungong has been moved to start at strongside defensive end, opening a spot for freshman KeShun Freeman to start at rush end. Tyler Stargel will also be used in a three-man rotation.
“It’s just a chance to get KeShun some more reps,” Johnson said.
6. Johnson on nose tackle Shawn Green, who has been credited with six tackles, half of them for loss and one pass breakup.
“I think Shawn’s played well. He’s a consistent guy. He’s not going to be flashy. He’s not that kind of player. He’s consistent. You can count on him to kind of hold his gap. He’s hard to cut off. He can do things in there that the normal people don’t see. And he makes some plays.”
7. Johnson pontificated on the impact of his unvarnished style: “Sometimes, I think maybe we’re too honest. We won both games by 17 points. I could come out and say, ‘We’re great, we’re doing this, we’re doing that.’ I’m trying to give you may take on what we need to get better at. Sometimes, I think that just drives negativity by everybody around, because it’s like, I don’t care who you play. You go on the road today and you win by 17, that’s pretty good. Now, can we play better? Yeah. Is the competition going to ratchet up? Yeah. So all those things are true, but you keep working on it. It doesn’t mean that everything is terrible.”
8. Johnson sent some love the way of Quayshawn Nealy, who scored his third career touchdown (two by interception return, one on a fumble return) with his seventh career interception:
“He’s got football awareness. I think he has a good idea of what’s going on around him and he’s got ability, so when you put those two together, you have a chance to make plays. He certainly finds himself in the right spot a lot of times, and I think you’ve got to credit himself for that. I think that’s just intuition and kind of having a feel for the game.”