Tech’s Johnson not worried that defenses are catching up

 

Four ACC teams (Miami, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson) have already ended spring practice and five more (Duke, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Virginia, Wake Forest) have their spring games this Saturday. So the league’s 12 coaches got together on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. As always, some interesting nuggets emerged. Here are five fun ones:

 

1. Another reason the fans and media like Paul Johnson. The Georgia Tech coach got the predictable question:  Won’t opposing defenses be better prepared for his offense in year two than they were in year one? In other words, is this the year that opponents figure it out?

Most guys would utter some kind of coach-speak non-answer. But you could hear Johnson smiling through the phone. In 12 seasons as a head coach, he had heard the question more than once.

 “When we were at Georgia Southern we played the same teams every year,” said Johnson, implying that things turned out okay in Statesboro, where he won five straight Southern Conference championships and a pair of national championships.

Johnson pointed out that those kinds of questions don’t come up when teams run a traditional pro style offense from year to year.

“Whenever you have something different people always have some questions,” he said. In fact, Johnson told me in a previous meeting, he knows what is coming next if Tech is successful again in 2009.

“Then they will say that you can’t recruit to it,” he said.

Then came the kicker.

“People may get better at defending it but we’ll get better at running it, too” Johnson said. “That much I do know.”

 

2. Hokies not talking Alabama—yet.  Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said that Alabama, the Hokies’ opening opponent on Sept. 5 at the Georgia Dome, will not be discussed this spring.

“We’re trying to get ourselves better right now. We’re concentrating on trying to get Virginia Tech better,” said Beamer, whose spring game will be on April 25. “But we certainly know the challenge in front of us. Any time you play a national program—a program as ranked as high as they were—that is something special. I know our players are excited. I know our fans are, too.”

Last year I said the Alabama-Clemson game at the Dome would be one of the toughest tickets ever in Atlanta.  Tickets for the game on Sept. 5, I’m hearing, will be even tougher.

3. The Clemson quarterback race is still wide open. Those who watched the spring game believe that redshirt freshman Kyle Parker, whose arm has been compared to Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, has the edge over Willie Korn going into fall camp. New coach Dabo Swinney said that no decision has been made but he likes the competition coming out of the spring.

“The important thing is that we’ve improved up front (offensive line) and that was our No. 1 goal on offense,” Swinney said. “That is going to give our quarterbacks a chance to develop.”

Someone asked Swinney if he would lean toward playing Parker because Parker might decide to concentrate on baseball if he doesn’t win the job.

“My thought process is on Sept. 5 (when Clemson opens with Middle Tennessee). Things happen all the time. We’re going to play the best guy,” he said. “If its dead even, then maybe both play.”

 

4. Cutcliffe talked to Paulus, but not as a QB: Former Duke point guard Greg Paulus was a very good high school quarterback and he’s looking for a place to play now that his basketball eligibility has expired for Coach K.  By NCAA rules he can play one year of football.

Duke coach David Cutlcliffe said he had a serious discussion with Paulus about playing football for the Blue Devils, but not at quarterback. Cutcliffe didn’t say this, but it takes the best of quarterbacks at least two years to learn his system. Paulus only has one year and Duke is set at quarterback with senior Thaddeus Lewis, who has 34 career starts.

“We talked extensively and Greg is a quarterback at heart,” Cutcliffe said. “No way was he going to be able to compete at quarterback for us. It’s difficult when you haven’t played quarterback in a long time.”

Paulus has talked to Michigan’s Rich Rodriguez about joining the Wolverines.

 

5. Miami draft streak nears end: For 14 consecutive years Miami has had a first-round choice in the NFL draft. That streak is expected to end with the 2009 draft. Coach Randy Shannon said he is not concerned because, based on recent recruiting, he believes that the Hurricanes will soon start a new streak of first-round picks.

“The streak has been around a long time and it was a good one,” said Shannon, set to begin his third season as head coach. “Now we have to focus on how we’re rebuilding. Down the road we have a chance to start a new streak.”

 

 

 

 

161 comments Add your comment

GeoffDawg

April 16th, 2009
9:11 am

The difference is that when Paul Johnson was at Georgia Southern, he typically had superior players talent wise. If you’re trying to outscheme the competition with average talent, eventually that’s going to catch up with you. Due to the nature of the the offense, you’ll always have some technical advantage but you won’t be catching everybody off their game week after week. Long story short, there should be some drop off but they’ll usually field decent teams. Just like the old run and shoot – it let traditionally bad teams (see Atlanta Falcons) consistently win but gimmicks will not let you get to the next level without the players to adequately support them.

Old Dawg

April 16th, 2009
9:15 am

Tony;
You’re exactly right about Paul Johnson. When his offense is fully installed and he has his style of players — watch out — he will frustate the heck out of defensive coordinators throughout the country. Tech will make college football an attraction in Atlanta once again. I’m not a Tech fan, but I am a HUGE fan of college football!

Keep up the great copy!

81Dog

April 16th, 2009
9:17 am

Coach Johnson reminds me of another Tech coach: Pepper Rodgers. Pepper had won everywhere he’d been before. Ran a flashy option attack. Brash and outspoken, not scared of anyone. Beat UGA in Athens in his first season. I seem to recall Tech fans were delighted with him after that first year, too, and saw no limits as to how great he was going to make their program. Anyone remember how he worked out for them?

E.T.

April 16th, 2009
9:19 am

The smile through Paul’s phone was unwaranted arrogance.The win over U.G.A. was an aberation.Every blind hog finds an acorn every now and then!

JB

April 16th, 2009
9:28 am

I, as a Dawg fan respect what Tech did this year….Tech will win more with Johnson than Gaily, and will Give Georgia fits. But, There is a load of talent they will play 3 or 4 times a year and they will struggle in some games being one dimensional ,aka the LSU game. Tech zealots will call it a fluke. Real football tech people will call it what it was, a butt whipping. Tech will get frustrated as we Dawg fans get because 8 to 9 wins won’t be good enough. But 12-0 with that offense with some teams they have to play. Ain’t gonna happen.

Kid Ray

April 16th, 2009
9:31 am

Great article, loved the tidbit abuot GT…People always forget. football always comes down to blocking and tackling. Johnson is now facing superior defenses than he did at GS and Navy…but also running his O with better athletes as well. And in the second year with more precision. I don’t thisk the league will catch up this year b/c they only see then triple option once per year…whereas GT runs it year round.

Got 12?

April 16th, 2009
9:32 am

I’m not a big fan of ACC football in general, but I do like to watch Johnson’s offense. I look forward to seeing the full version in-person.

GT at BAMA in 2013
BAMA at GT in 2014

GTMike

April 16th, 2009
9:34 am

E.T.-sound to me li your reaction is unwarranted arrogance. Try beating him before you belittle him, why don’t ya? Otherwise, makes *you* sound like the one with a problem.

GeoffDawg-only problem with your theory is that Navy saw the same teams year after year also, with *clearly* inferior personnel, and led the nation in rushing year after year under Johnson. Try again.

RxDawg

April 16th, 2009
9:34 am

Geoff, your absolutely right. I was at GSU during those years. We stomped, I mean STOMPED almost everyone we played. The only teams that were on the schedule that could hang with us player skill wise was App St. and Furman. Those games were always coming down to the wire and were some of the best football games I’ve seen. Thats not to knock what he accomplished at all, but it was pretty obvious that there was only a couple of teams we had to go through to get to the playoffs. It’s slightly more of a level playing field now.

GTMike

April 16th, 2009
9:37 am

JB-good post. LSU was no fluke, it was a butt whipping. You still win and lose games along the line of scrimmage, no matter what scheme you run (although special teams contributed mightily to the size of that loss). LSU’s line whipped ours. I don’t disagree that 12-0 is going to be difficult for anyone to achieve, because of the equality around college football (on any given Saturday…), but I am also not convinced that it is any easier with a pro style offense than it is with the triple option.

DawgGirl32

April 16th, 2009
9:41 am

Navy may have led the nation in rushing….but I don’t remember them winning championships of any sort. Isn’t that what GT wants?

Perimeter Jacket

April 16th, 2009
9:41 am

GeoffDawg,

You’re right that Johnson typically had better than average talent at Southern, but he didn’t at Navy. At Navy, the total talent on his roster was normally among 10 worst in all Div. 1-A, yet he was still able to ring up 8, 9 , and 10 win seasons. Even with the relatively soft schedule that Navy normally plays, most of these teams outside of the other Academies had far greater athletic talent and size than Navy could ever hope to field.

That being said, I also agree with Coach Johnson’s approach to this question of teams catching up to this offense. Will other defense’s become more familiar with this defense? Of course they will. But the thing they will still only be seeing this offense once a year, and usually with only one week practice to prepare for it. This seems similar to what UF went through in their implementation of their spread option. Everyone said that SEC speed would negate this offense, and once SEC defenses saw it for more than one season, their “gimmick” was up. Well people forgot what would happen when you put the same caliber athletes in that offense. We know the end result. Now I’m not saying that Tech is at UF’s level obviously…….but the same paradigm holds true here.

There’s really nothing to figure out in this offense…….play discplined, assignment football, and win the battle at the line of scrimmage, and you should do well against the flex option. It’s as simple as that. That’s exactly what BC, VT, UVA, and LSU did. They didn’t scheme a certain way for it……..they played assignment football, and won the battle up front. If you lose the battle at the line against us, even for a quarter, you’re in for some pain, as Miami, FSU, Miss St, and UGA found out.

I also agree with Geoffdawg to an extent about the comparison to the Falcons using the run and shoot. Now I wouldn’t classify Tech’s football program as bad by any means, but Tech is normally a slightly better than average program with a few years of very good to great years. This is par for the course when using a relatively normal offense and recruiting against the football factories for these same players. With the flex bone, we don’t need to compete against big schools for big time pro-style QBs, nor do we need a load of great WRs or 330 OTs. We will be able to compete at a high level using players with a different skill set than what most other schools use. Johnson has already shown he can improve the talent at Tech………this season is going to be alot of fun. Can’t wait for it to start.

Roy D. Mercer

April 16th, 2009
9:45 am

Pepper Rodgers is no Paul Johnson 81Dog, try again.

GeoffDawg

April 16th, 2009
9:48 am

GTMike – your assertion that Navy had “clearly inferior” talent is a bit off base. Looking at their schedule for 2009, I see a slate of teams including the likes of Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Army and Air Force(of course), Rice, SMU, Temple, Delaware, etc. The only clearly superior team they face is Ohio State and to a much lesser degree, Notre Dame. Like I wrote previously, even if there was a talent disparity, his wins/losses were decent. Why don’t you try to be knowledgeable about your own coach’s history?

Thank you RxDawg – I never saw many Southern games while Paul Johnson was there (other than when they played Georgia) but I usually caught the box scores. You’re right that most teams they faced didn’t belong on the same field with them.

Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
10:01 am

Damn it! Why does this damn software keep eating my blog posts? Anyone else having this problem?

RxDawg

April 16th, 2009
10:02 am

Yeh Atl Gator, they call it pac-man on some of the other blogs.

Perimeter Jacket

April 16th, 2009
10:05 am

Geoffdawg,

Of all the teams you just listed, I can tell you that Hawaii, Rice, and LaTech have alot more talent, especially at the lines, than Navy. The talent at Air Force, SMU, and Delaware (one of the very best 1-AA teams in the nation) are comparable to Navy. Western Kentucky, Temple, and Army have less than what Navy has. There more than a few guys that actually get playing time at Navy that really have no business playing for a Div 1-A football team if look at them from purely size/speed/strength ratio aspect.

Miles

April 16th, 2009
10:07 am

Let’s get back to the SEC tomorrow…

MinnesotaJacket

April 16th, 2009
10:10 am

So I have a bet I want to lay down…how many fans of Georgia who for some reason are reading this article anyways….want to say they will admit they were wrong if GT’s offense improves this year against better teams and get at least 10 wins? I mean if all of you are sooooo confident that this offense won’t wory place your money where your mouth is…I literally want to copy some of the dumb statements on here by ya’ll who keep talking as if this was a one hit wonder year, and that everyone is on to GT football now and we will go no where, how the TALENT gap is such a huge difference!!
Cause when 2009 roles away and Tech I am going to say is 11-2 or something like that we will say after beating UGA in a descently close game of 28-10 ( I am not a stupid fan who thinks it will be another huge offensive type game ) I want to hear what the excuses will be next year so I can paste what ya’ll said for this year

BhamWreck

April 16th, 2009
10:13 am

Why have I seen nothing on the Tech section about the supposed offer to UCLA to play them in the Dome in 2010. It was all over the Alabama news and radio that after AU turned down UCLA, they offered UCLA to play Tech and UCLA said no. Who else might we get for 2010 after ole sis chickened out?

dan

April 16th, 2009
10:16 am

In order to be successful against the Triple Option, you have to have dominant defensive lineman who stay in their gaps, one person responsible for the QB, one person responsible for the pitchman. The reason that LSU dominated Tech where UGA failed was that LSU completely dominated at the point of attack with their defensive front 4. For Paul Johnson to be successful as in winning 10 or more games a year, he’ll need to get bigger lineman at the point of attack. In terms of recruiting I think he’ll do fine getting running backs to play in the triple option. It’s a fun offense to play in if you’re a running back, and he’ll just to need to recruit an few athletes at QB. The biggest area of concern is Tech’s defense. They really got exposed late in the season and will need to improve if Tech is going to be consistantly good.

GeoffDawg

April 16th, 2009
10:20 am

Perimeter Jacket – I actually agree with you for the most part. Overall, the talent level may not be quite as good as some but the notion that it’s “clearly inferior” as others have contended is not accurate. Also, I stated that even with the talent disparity, Paul Johnson still fielded decent teams. This was not a knock on his coaching style to start with, just an objective analysis of expectations for tech’s program down the road. I never said that they were just going to drop off the map so I’m a bit unclear on why I’ve received sarcasm in response from GTMike. I think some people just can’t take criticism of any kind. If this was a story about Willie Martinez, I’d be right along with any jacket that respectfully stated that his performance needed to improve for 2009.

Huh?

April 16th, 2009
10:24 am

Here’s what I think about Paul Johnson. I think he is a definite improvement over Chan Gailey. I think he will have Georgia Tech at a consistent 8 or 9 wins per year level, with an occassional 10 or 11 win season thrown in. I think he’ll win 20-30% of his games against my Dawgs, which isn’t bad. I think he brings toughness and discipline to a program that was sorely lacking those qualities under Gailey.

With that said, I also think he comes off as a little defensive and arrogant in interviews like this. I got that impression of him from day one. There is a reason why most coaches give a bunch of coachspeak answers to media questions. Talk is cheap, meaningless, and can get you in big time trouble in college football if those words don’t turn in to action.

Also, all of my above positive comments assume that Johnson will be at Georgia Tech for an extended period of time. If he is all he’s cracked up to be I doubt he’s there for more than 4 or 5 years. Georgia Tech is not a destination job. Never has been. Never will be.

AltamahaDawg

April 16th, 2009
10:36 am

Oh its not about “figuring out” anything. Theres not an offence in the country that hasn’t been figured out how to defend. Its actually doing it. It will always be who has better players on the field that day. When tech has the better players, they will win, when they don’t, they won’t. Same as with any school.

The Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
10:52 am

Comments in response to Tony—-

1. Yes, it’s a goofy question. Of course, opposing defenses will get better at defending the triple-option offense, but Johnson’s offense will get more adept at running it with experience and new recruits whose skills are tailored to the scheme. Johnson’s biggest advantage, howsver, is that opposing defenses only see it once a year. Les Miles showed how to defend it when LSU had a month to prepare for the beach bowl, and not merely a week. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting experiment to watch, and I am mindful that all of the “experts” said that Urban Meyer’s spread offense would never work in the SEC.

The Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
10:52 am

Comments in response to Tony—-

2. Frank Beamer’s ACC champion Hokies should be better, and Alabama, at least to start the season, will not be playing at the same level they were in last year’s SEC championship game. It should be a better game than last year’s Alabama-Clemson match-up. The Tide, however, has a bench full of great talent recruited by Nick Saban, and how fast that talent matures will determine whether the Tide is an SEC West contender or also-ran.

Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
10:53 am

Comments in response to Tony—-

3. Personally, I’m cheering for the Atlanta area local kid in the Clemson quarterback race, but I doubt whether the selection of the quarterback is the key to Clemson’s season. New coach Dabo Swinney needs to turn a psychological corner with his Tiger team and avoid the second-half-of-the-season choke for which Clemson has become known under Tommy Bowden.

Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
10:53 am

4. Coach Cutcliffe is right, that’s one of the stranger things I’ve heard recently. I don’t care if you’re the greatest high school quarterback on the plant. No one steps into the starting QB position at a Division I program with the no college experience and not having played in four years. The learning curve is too steep. Is Rich Rodriguez seriously considering this? If so, that’s even strnager and I can’t imagine the Big Blue fans will be pleased.

DawgBite

April 16th, 2009
10:54 am

GTMike

April 16th, 2009
9:34 am
E.T.-sound to me li your reaction is unwarranted arrogance. Try beating him before you belittle him, why don’t ya? Otherwise, makes *you* sound like the one with a problem.

GeoffDawg-only problem with your theory is that Navy saw the same teams year after year also, with *clearly* inferior personnel, and led the nation in rushing year after year under Johnson. Try again

And at Navy Paul Johnson only beat 6 teams with winning records the entire time he was there.

How’s that for “trying again” Mikey.

EEJacket

April 16th, 2009
11:05 am

“GT is not a destination job. Never has been. Never will be.”

Have you ever heard of Bobby Dodd?

GT looking good

April 16th, 2009
11:17 am

Nice to see so many GA fans keeping up with what’s being said about the Jackets. Nice to see so many GA fans implying how it’s not going to get better at Tech. Nice to see the GA fans saying the only reason PJ was SO successful (Best coach in the school’s history, btw) at GA Southern (GSU) is because they were better than everybody else.

I want you geniuses to do a little research of GSU football, and see what was happening in the W-L columns and box scores the 4-5 seasons prior to PJ’s RETURN. Yes his RETURN to the school that had become SO successful in the 80’s BECAUSE of his offense.

Now I want the Navy geniuses to do the same sort of research on PJ’s times there. Yes, timeS there. Meaning when he 1st went to NAVY as OC in 95-96, then what happened while he was at GSU. THEN what happened at NAVY when he RETURNED to be HC.

The problem with most of these geniuses is that they can’t seem to see the writing on the wall until the wall smacks them in the face. To put in plain & simple english …..

Paul Johnson = WINNING Football.

Sunshine

April 16th, 2009
11:22 am

How many times are we going to hear the “Blind hogs and Acorn” slogan by the backwoodsmen? Your mama! Yea, its that cheesy

Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
11:28 am

Tony—-The AJC blog software is earing my posts for no apparent reason. What is up with that?

George P. Burdell

April 16th, 2009
11:29 am

Funny how Johnson coached GSU for 72 games and had 10 losses. Since he’s been gone, GSU has played in 82 games with 31 losses. Most of the wins for GSU came in the years immediately following when Johnson departed. Seems to me that either Johnson was responsible for the talent difference or maybe, just maybe, he is a pretty decent coach.

Atlanta Gator

April 16th, 2009
11:29 am

That’s “eating,” not “earing.”

Huh?

April 16th, 2009
11:42 am

“GT is not a destination job. Never has been. Never will be.”

Have you ever heard of Bobby Dodd?

Have you ever heard of cable television, microwave ovens, or FM radio? My guess is not if you think Bobby Dodd has one iota of relevance to my comment. Thanks for the ancient history lesson though.

Old GT Nut

April 16th, 2009
11:44 am

2008, GT played with 5 starting seniors, and the rest Freshmen… True Freshmen…and Sophomores, completely new O & D coaching staff & schemes, Nesbitt out or playing injured the whole way, and still went
9-4.

Kiffinisatosser

April 16th, 2009
11:46 am

I speak as an outsider here. The thing that the dawgs fail to realize is that PJ has the Techers on trajectory to be as good a football team year in and year out as is UGa. If you stop and think about it for a moment, it would be an awesome thing to have two very good teams so close to each other. If you love college football and live in Georgia it ought to be something you are proud of. I guess y’all don’t think that way though.

GeoffDawg

April 16th, 2009
11:46 am

Boy – techies are sure sensitive about their coach. GT looking good – when div 1 programs hire somebody, it’s usually because they’ve been WINNING (with the exception of Auburn) at their previous jobs. Losers don’t tend to get lucrative head coaching offers. The fact that you use that as your conclusive proof that he’ll be ultra-successful no matter where he is is a “genius” argument on your part.

bama12titles

April 16th, 2009
11:47 am

Bottom line is Tech will just get better and better as Johnson recruits better and better talent. I can see them winning 8-9 games a year with an occasional 10-11 game winning season if he continues to improve the talent level.

Having an offense that people see only once a year is an enormous advantage but as LSU showed its not that much of an advantage if you have a full month to prepare for it. As long as CPJ keeps improving the talent level I think Tech will be giving the ACC and the dawgs fits for years to come.

It will be good to see a healthy rivalry between Tech and the dawgs again as opposed to domination by 1 team.

Donna

April 16th, 2009
11:48 am

EEJacket

April 16th, 2009
11:05 am
“GT is not a destination job. Never has been. Never will be.”

Have you ever heard of Bobby Dodd?

Yes…and I’ve also heard of the, what is it, 20+ that have come after him. You seem to have forgotten that, huh EEjacket. Coaches that win at Tech leave. The rest get fired. Tech is the #1 graveyard for coaches in the entire NCAA.

GoDores

April 16th, 2009
11:49 am

I support Vandy and love our Johnson. Truth be told though, I’d trade him for your Johnson in a second.

Doc 54

April 16th, 2009
11:52 am

As a formal naval aviator who served with a number of former Navy football players, I can assure you these men are not “inferior” in any fashion. The service academies have a difficult time recruiting linemen because of the military weight requirements and these young men will serve their country upon graduation. The strict academic standards at the service academies also eliminate many prospects as well.

david

April 16th, 2009
11:55 am

I think all these negative GT posts from UGA fans is an aberration. There certainly can’t be many UGA fans that can read, much less write. ;) ruff ruff

Jason

April 16th, 2009
12:01 pm

The progression of basing on Paul Johnson’s Offense as far as I can tell:

(Stage 1) Before hes played a game, bash the offense as old school, and say it will never work in a major conference. Ignore the dominance of Nebraska less than a decade ago running a similiar offense. Anyhow, this fairly retarded argument has already been disproven.

(Stage 2) Say you won’t be able to recruit for it. Yeah, he hasn’t racked up a top 10 recruiting class(with the rankign mainly based on players suitable for a pro-style offense anyhow), but neither did Gailey. It takes a little time for this one to pan out. Either way, GT probably won’t go after many top rated players by scout.com because htey don’t fit the system as well as 3-4 star players do.

(Stage 3) Say everyone will figure it out after they have seen it once. Completely ignroe the fact that noone figured Nebraska out, noone figured Navy out, and noone figured GSU out. This is still, with GT, up in the air though.

(Stage 4) Admit that it does work. This is the stage the Dawg fans will be forced to jump into after the 2010 or 2011 season, once the other excuses are proven false.

GeoffDawg

April 16th, 2009
12:02 pm

This blog has hit rock bottom with Vandy and tech start comparing their johnsons.

Otto

April 16th, 2009
12:08 pm

Only one coach since Bobby Dodd has coach GT for more than one season and won more than 60% of his games and if you drop it down to 55% you only add one more Chan. Goff won 57% of his games.

Otto

April 16th, 2009
12:08 pm

lol Tech has a chunky Johnson

Tony Barnhart

April 16th, 2009
12:17 pm

Atlanta Gator…passed your note along to the website folks…Not sure what’s going on…

Nate

April 16th, 2009
12:20 pm

Wow, this is the first blog that has not turned into a he said she said blog. Wow, good comments from our brothers in Athens. I agree, Tech will probably never dominate the series, but I still think we can turn the corner on our program and become a consistent nine win team with shots at the ACC Championship year in and year out. And please don’t hate back with something about ACC football. I think the ACC is an overall good conference with no obvious dominate teams like the SEC.