Notes from an interview with Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson before his speech at the Touchdown Club of Atlanta luncheon Monday in Buckhead.
1. Johnson didn’t do much to celebrate the win over Virginia Tech – after getting home Saturday evening, he watched the Clemson-Florida State and Miami-Nebraska games and went to bed.
“The wins are never as high as the losses are low,” he said. “So by the time I woke up Sunday morning, it was over. It’s gone. You have to break down the film and then you start on the next game.”
2. Johnson was among the coaches who voted for the Jackets in the coaches poll. Tech was eighth among teams also receiving votes after not receiving any in the first four weeks of the poll. Johnson said he put Tech in the “twentysomething” range.
“I think there’s probably 13 or 14 teams that are 4-0,” he said.
(There are 14.)
3. Tech’s season summed up in 17 words: “They keep finding a way. We’d like to get to where you don’t back yourself into a hole.”
4. Players lifted Monday, were given Tuesday off and will practice Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
5. Offensive tackle Errin Joe played a lot of snaps in place of starter Chris Griffin at right tackle.
“He’s just kind of beat up,” Johnson said of Griffin, who has started the first four games. “He’s just not playing as well as he did early. And we’re trying to give Errin Joe some reps.”
6. Johnson’s evaluation of the offense: “It’s OK. It could be a lot better. The quarterback is kind of what you want with what we do. He’s quick, he can run, he likes to run. So, it helps. We’ve got to get everybody around him playing better.”
Johnson also mentioned that the perimeter blocking in the first half was “horrid” and that quarterback Justin Thomas’ pre-snap awareness to make checks needs to improve.
7. Of the defense: “I thought they improved a bunch. No big plays. That was the key. We played off and played a little more zone coverage and I think it was good. We blitzed some the second half, got some pressure. When we got some pressure, he threw us a couple balls.”
8. Special teams: “They’ve not been real special other than blocking kicks. Kickoff return team right now is horrendous. (Broderick Snoddy’s return out of the end zone) could have been a disaster. Field goals, we’ve got to do better. You can’t miss 30-yard field goals on this level. We’ve done it in three of the four games. It’s a killer.”
9. On giving defensive linemen Francis Kallon, Antonio Simmons, Pat Gamble, Kyle Travis and Tyler Stargel snaps on Saturday to periodically rest starters Roderick Rook-Chungong, Adam Gotsis, Shawn Green and KeShun Freeman.
“I’m a firm believer sometimes you don’t know how guys are going to play unless you put ’em in and give ’em a chance,” Johnson said. “If they don’t play well, you can always get ’em out. But I think it helped our guys. Adam Gotsis probably had his best game and I think it’s because he didn’t have as many reps, and when he was out there, he did some things.”
10. Lastly, a story you can tell on yourself when you are 4-0. On Tech’s first drive of the second half, Thomas fumbled on an option pitch to A-back Broderick Snoddy. Virginia Tech recovered on the Georgia Tech 10-yard line, where a three-and-out forced the Hokies to try a field goal, which was blocked by Chris Milton.
Johnson, though, was fuming that Snoddy was in the game for that play. Over the headset, he demanded of coaches in the box who had put him in the game. He was met with silence.
“So (Snoddy) comes over on the sideline and he comes up to me, and I go, ‘Broderick, who put you in the game?’” Johnson said. “He said, ‘You did.’ I said, ‘What?” He said, ‘You did, Coach. You sent the play in with me.’”