Morgan Burnett on Michael Johnson and other topics

Welcome to the new blog site, and thanks for the suggestions on what to ask Morgan Burnett. I’ll put together a full Q/A that will run online soon, but here are some highlights:

Burnett said he hadn’t heard Mike Mayock’s criticism of defensive end Michael Johnson. The NFL Network analyst strongly questioned Johnson’s desire. Burnett called Johnson “a very, very hard worker who shows a lot of passion on the field.” He added: “You don’t like to hear anything bad about your teammate, so you really don’t pay attention to it and just keep your encouraging your teammate to do well.”

Incidentally, a Green Bay Packers beat writer chimed in here on MJ.

Tech starts a series of brutal conditioning drills Monday morning. The schedule says the drills start at 6 a.m., but Burnett knows better. “You better be out there at 5:45 ready to go,” he said. “Coach Johnson is known to start 15 minutes before the time that’s on the paper.”

He mentioned defensive tackle T.J. Barnes, B-back Richard Watson, corner Kamaron Riley and DB Jerrard Tarrant as players to watch this fall.

Burnett disputed the notion that the loss of the three D-linemen puts more pressure on the back seven, though he agreed the secondary and linebackers will be better because they’re more experienced.

“It’s the same mentality. We’ve got to do everything together as a defensive unit. We lost three good linemen so young guys are going to have to step up fast. But I feel we’ve got a lot of great young talent.”

Burnett, who had 7 INTs and 93 tackles last season, has bulked up about 10 pounds to 208, a good playing weight for him.

He’s focusing on increasing his range at rover, disguising coverages and becoming a team leader. He said he’s not thinking about what he’ll do after his junior season, when the NFL will be an option.

“When the times comes to think about it, that’s when I’ll think about it. As far as right now, I’m just worried about us getting better as a team and as a defensive unit. And having a better season than we did last year.”

The LSU loss sticks in his stomach. “That’s the last impression America had of Georgia Tech….There are a lot of things we feel we’ve got to prove.”

Finally, Burnett said he was psyched about the schedule, especially the early back-to-back Thursday ESPN games vs. Clemson and Miami. That seems like a good segue to our Tech travel guide.

25 comments Add your comment

old gold engineer

February 25th, 2009
9:37 am

Glad to hear the “LSU loss sticks in his stomach” and hope that sentiment is prevalent throughout the team to prevent a repeat.

stumpper

February 25th, 2009
9:47 am

Tech will not have the same success with it’s defensive line, however, I think the experience in the back of it will more than compesate, and Lanier could be a great addition. We just need a very good DE that can give a pass rush and play the corner to compliment Morgan, who is an all american in the waiting.

MinnesotaJacket

February 25th, 2009
9:50 am

good call old gold….because Im pretty sure EVERY Tech fan including myself felt miserable that night and needed more than a handle to make me forget haha…and I agree with Burnett though that with our LB’s healthy this year and if Cooper Taylor can keep imrproving we have a great chance to be good in the secondary and tackling if they new D-line can just hold its own. Don’t forget that Derrick Morgan is going to be an anchor on the d-line and we always get guys to play above and beyond what they were recruited as….

MinnesotaJacket

February 25th, 2009
9:52 am

I can’t remember who it was but the 310 pounder we recruited I have a feeling is going to be something special for Tech, when the D-line coaches get him to about 315 and athletic to where he can hold the A and B gaps and cause havic in the backfield

GT

February 25th, 2009
10:55 am

I have never heard or thought of MJ not having heart. The guy has been a monster for us since he got here. Anybody that thinks he is lacking in the chest will find out the hard way when he is on top of your chest in a game.

MinnesotaJacket

February 25th, 2009
11:00 am

I understand the point against MJ…I mean last year eyes were on him a lot in big games…and though he would make 1 or 2 great plays there would be a majority of plays where he was just non-existant…I still think hes a great player but I semi-agree with his taking plays off

chuck allison

February 25th, 2009
11:38 am

Stumpper, don’t worry about the pash rushing DE. We have a stable full of those types, and MJ wasn’t our best one last year. The question mark will be the DT’s, but we should be okay there although not as deep maybe.

Brock

February 25th, 2009
11:44 am

September can’t get here fast enough. I hope the Braves give me a season that will make the summer pass by quicker than last year. I’m looking forward to more experience, more offense, and young guys stepping up on defense. PJ seems to get the best out of these guys. 5:45am? Love it. Work ethic goes a long way with this group and PJ has them in the right mindset.

yurtle_the_turtle

February 25th, 2009
11:58 am

Please Fire Hewitt, the man can’t coach.

chitown jacket

February 25th, 2009
12:04 pm

I also don’t get it with MJ. The guy was fantastic for us. When you have 2 guys blocking you on almost every pass play you open a lot of opportuntiies for your teamates.

I believe this guy will be an amazing player in the NFL. Hopefully he goes to my Dolphins!

MinnesotaJacket

February 25th, 2009
12:10 pm

I don’t know what you mean depth at defensive tackle with the guys we brought in plus the two guys who rotated in with vance and them last year…I mean neither of htem made as much noise or havoc…but they held their own…I really do believe that having healthy experienced linebackers this year will be the key to our defense being very good.

BLAZER

February 25th, 2009
12:34 pm

d.t. anderson,walls,barnes* lanier

*redshirt last year 6-7 320 lanier incoming freshman

think we should move jason peters to d.t.

Evan

February 25th, 2009
12:38 pm

I wonder if they’ll do a Q&A with Nesbitt.
I’m really glad there is a lot of focus on having a better season next year. Will be a great thing when there are some games where the team that wins is the one that wants it more.

KG

February 25th, 2009
12:59 pm

If the D-line is the main concern for Tech fans, us Tech fans need to pay attention to what has been going on. Morgan along with the R-shirt additions of Barnes, Peters, Walls and incoming FR Lanier are enough for any fan that pays attention to drop this conversation all together. All of this in addition to the large number of experienced LBs we will have this year, anyone who watched Tech football last year would have to boil our weakness in the defense down to the secondary. A good secondary and the rednecks in athens would have had maybe 21 points. Our youth was an issue but we were flat out outplayed a majority of the time. Not to sound negative at all, believe me, I am as excited about this 09 season as anyone. In 2012 after we’ve beat the rednecks three years in a row, maybe we can get some real info from the ajc on our team. The ajc doesnt give the hometown team any cred so do some research on your own, there is no info here for the true fan of GT Athletics. 29 year booster and Life member

ben

February 25th, 2009
1:27 pm

I think the D-Line was overrated, especially towards the end of the season. 42 points to the dawgs and 38 to LSU does not say “dominant defensive line” to me. And Johnson was a spectacular athelete, just not a tough lineman that could push people around.

GA Tech Insider

February 25th, 2009
1:54 pm

Ben;

You seem to forget that about the time the end of the year rolled around; the time you’re complaining of, Vance was hurt (and playing sparingly), Richard was hurt (and playing sparingly), GA Tech had lost two starting linebackers and a couple of backups, and GA Tech had two true freshmen and two true sophomores starting in their defensive backfield; only one of the DB’s was expected to even play extended minutes, if at all last year (Morgan Burnett).

Before you start to hate too much on Michael, my understanding is that part of Tech’s designed defense, to help protect some of the inexperienced Linebackers and Defensive Backs, was to have Michael slow rush or drop back into the passing lanes so he could take away about 1/3 of the field.

This gave the Safeties the opportunity to cheat to one side of the field, to help out the linebackers and corners, as well as to provide run support.

Michael’s discipline, i.e. him staying in position so his side of the field was protected at all times from reverses and passes to that side of the field, may have made some people think he wasn’t going full tilt at all times, however if he would have done what many defenders try to do against our Triple Option, things could have been a whole lot worse.

Granted, the game against UGA wasn’t pretty defensively, but you have to take your hat off to GA for not quitting and having a great offense of their own. Sometimes great players make great plays, and you can have great defenders be at the right place, in the right defense, and still get burned. That’s football.

Not Disappointed

February 25th, 2009
1:57 pm

I do believe Micheal Johnson will be a star at the next level. He is a tough guy. “Ramblin Wreck!” cool blog!

GA Tech Insider

February 25th, 2009
3:50 pm

For those who haven’t read it yet, the following is a quote from one of Michael’s biggest critics in the past, Pat Kirwan, Senior Analyst for NFL.com. This was written after the combine, and is in Pat’s new Mock Draft, where he moved Michael into his First Round.

“Johnson is not without his critics, but the combine really helped him regain some of his first-round status. There was no one like him physically in Indianapolis, as he checked in at 6-foot-6 7/8, 266 pounds with a 4.67 time in the 40. He can move like a linebacker, rush the passer and probably be a short-yardage tight end. In the weeks to come, he will be moving up the draft board and probably be gone by the time the Giants select.”

http://www.nfl.com/combine/story?id=09000d5d80eea152&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true&icampaign=DW_Combine_wednesday

MinnesotaJacket

February 25th, 2009
4:38 pm

I agree with KG fully and really KG when is the last time Tech had a great secondary?? I mean I have been a follower since as young as I can remember and none of our secondaries stand out as GREAT…I think this year it COULD BE different with a linebacker core which if it stays healthy has good playmakers and solid tacklers.
Corner will be a very interesting thing to see with a lot of young guys who got experience last year getting to fight it out. I do believe Cooper is going to be the other safety because that kid had a head for tackling and did improve as the season went with his pass coverage.

Bob The Expert

February 25th, 2009
5:56 pm

You will have the same problem in 2009 that you had in 2008 Tech fans: No depth. You will start out strong and then fold the second half of the season. I predicted as much for your 2008 season and I was right. I particularly made note of your lack of depth behind your all-star defensive lineman. You must be 2 or even 3 deep at those positions to sustain any kind of consistant success. While Johnson is an excellent coach that has made Tech very competitive on any given Saturday, until he can recruit some quality depth I believe 7-9 win seasons are the most you can hope for. Maybe he will, but it isn’t happening at the moment. Expect more of the same in 2009.

You’re welcome,

Bob The Expert

I watchedum fold....

February 25th, 2009
6:41 pm

I especially watched that third quarter in Athens. They “folded” the hedges after the game! LOL!

GA Tech Insider

February 25th, 2009
6:47 pm

Bob;

Thanks for your “expert” analysis.

This is something that’s been said for quite a while, for quite a bit longer than you, and by other “experts” as well, some actually well known, and well respected in the College football world, and have their prognostications published day in, and day out. You are in “good company”.

While I would agree with you that depth is GA Tech’s big problem, and some of it stems from their recent NCAA sanctions, which limited the number of football scholarships that were available to be awarded for a number of years.

Obviously, this would have a major impact on the overall depth of the team, and it will continue to do so until GA Tech can start to back-fill and even up the number of scholarship athlete players they have on the team with the others across the field.

I would also say that many of the players that GA Tech ends up signing are not considered the same “skill set” as many of the “elite” teams we may be compared with, i.e. the UGA’s of the world, so when Georgia gets a 4 Star Recruit playing in a backup role, he is considered to be able to provide adequate “depth” where GA Tech’s 2 or 3 Star Recruit isn’t.

However, recruiting stars do not “quantify” the ability of a team player, the scheme of a system, the heart and desire of a player, or his determiation and intelligence on the field.

So I would suggest to you, “Bob the Expert,” that when GA Tech went through so many injuries last year, and in case you didn’t know it, GA Tech lost virtually their entire Offensive Line, several Wide Receivers, a Running Back, their Starting QB for a game and a half and then he was hurt for three fourths of the year, half of their starting Linebackers, and three fourths of their starting Defensive Backs, that if they “lacked the depth” on the Team, as you posted above, they wouldn’t have been able to win as many games as they did, or beaten excellent Teams, such as the University of Georgia.

Therefore, “Bob, the self proclaimed Expert,” you, like so many others, need to know the facts, and understand them, before you make a fool of yourself again.

DTECH

February 25th, 2009
10:38 pm

Bob The Expert, your an idiot!

Sam

February 27th, 2009
2:06 pm

To Bob The Expert:
Didn’t finish strong? We almost won the ACC, and we beat FSU, Miami, and UGA in the back half of the season. Now, as far as predicting how many wins a year we can expect, I think that somewhere between 8 to 10 wins per year and being in the mix for ACC champ is a good year (not far off the 7-9 that you mention). No, given our academic expectations, GT will probably never be an elite national championship contender (on a regular basis), but we have a chance to be competitive in D1-FBS with almost any team. And just like 1990, we have that outside shot of everything coming together as a TEAM and making a run at the national championship.

Neighborhood Watch

February 28th, 2009
12:26 am

GA Tech Insider,is right on. He’s an expert in making a fool of himself, so he should know.