Quotes from Georgia Tech’s 24-20 win over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem:
Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson
“Wow. The best thing I can say is that our guys competed right until the end. The kept fighting and fighting. We didn’t look good for a long time. The execution wasn’t very good and crisp on offense, but we just hung in there and found a way to win. They had a nice drive to get down there in field goal range. We got them stopped and give our quarterback credit, he made some plays and kept the thing alive. You have to be proud of the way that they fought and competed, but Lord knows we have a lot of work to do.”
On the Wake Forest defense stopping the Georgia Tech running game…
“We never got anything consistent out of the running game. If we single-blocked the nose tackle, he made every tackle, and if we doubled him, the linebacker made it. You just had to pick which one you want.”
On the winning touchdown play…
“It was just a slant route. It was single coverage back there. Actually, Coach Preston up in the box had seen it before and felt like it would be a good call. It was a quick pass, so I thought we could get it off so that if it was incomplete we would be able to kick the field goal.”
On Scott Blair making three field goals…
“He made some big field goals. He went out was as solid as could be. I don’t know about that kickoff there at the end (that went out of bounds). The last two kickoffs weren’t very good, but the field goals were great.”
On whether he was satisfied with the defense…
“I thought we played well. We got some stops. Even when they got the ball down there, most of the time they had to kick field goals. At the end of the game there, they had to choose whether or not to kick the field goal.”
Tech cornerback Dominique Reese
We are playing with confidence, definitely playing with confidence.
We went back to the basics and coach simplified the defense a lot.
We may not be in the perfect defense but you just have to make a play.
He’s definitely athletic. I felt like he was better than the guy they had started with. You just have to read the keys no matter who they put back there. Read the keys and play like you’ve been coached to play.
On Wake’s last series:
Knock the ball down man, knock the ball down. Rod Sweeting was trying to pick it. I waas just, ‘knock it down!’
On the defense’s confidence level:
We’re up, but we know that we still didn’t play our best that we can, that we’re capable of. We played our best for this year. We haven’t played like Georgia Tech yet, like we can on both sides of the ball. When we do we’ll be dangerous.
Just try to do the best I can to contribute to the defense, help the defense out so we can be a better team, be the best defense we can be.
All season, we’ve been trying to do a complete 180 on how our defense has been in the past. Coach Groh’s been preaching relentless effort and giving all we’ve got on every single play.
Nothing really changed but our attitudes, I’d say.
On the defense carrying the game until the last quarter
It was kind of different, it was weird seeing the offense struggle and the defense carrying. But our goal was to come out and do the best we can and that’s what we did.
On the feeling on the sideline after the winning play
Oh man. A sigh of relief.
On whether they wondered about the ignominy of losing to a fourth-string QB
You’re in college here. Everybody has been the best player on his team in high school. Everybody. They’ve got talent, and of course you can’t take them lightly.
On the defensive stand after the 10-yard punt that went out of bounds at the Tech 36 early in the fourth
We knew it was huge for our defense to step up because the offense wasn’t going all that well at the moment. We knew how big it was and we stood up to the challenge.
The game was very intense. We got off to a slow start. We just came out and got the win. We did what we needed to do.
On his last kick return
The kick return was very important. I just wanted to put us in a position to score.
We’re going to bust one before the year is out.
On the possibility of starting
I’m just trying to find my role, and get a bigger role. Show what I can do with the ball in my hands.
On the stops being made by the defense:
It gives us a lot of confidence that we can go and ahead do it. We know that if we keep pushing and keep fighting we can pull it off.
The confidence of the defense is increased tremendously. We talk in practice about not cracking if our backs are against the wall.
Everytime the coaches feel like they have more faith in me, I just wanted to go out and show the team that I could make plays.
On the winning touchdown pass:
It was pretty much the same thing that was opened up the whole game. We weren’t hitting the right holes. The last couple of drives we executed and ran the offense.
I feel like this was my best game this year. I felt comfortable and like I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was just doing my job.
I saw the corner pressing and I saw the safety cheating over.
Wake Forest Head Coach Jim Grobe
On what happened late in the game…
“I think Georgia Tech did some good things. I don’t think there’s any question about that. I thought their kids played really, really well. I thought we had some missed assignments in the fourth quarter that turned into good plays for them. For four quarters, I think overall we played pretty good. We just didn’t make plays in the fourth quarter when we needed to.”
On not taking advantage of scoring opportunities in the game…
“I think we had opportunities during the game. We had pretty good field position more than one time that we didn’t do anything with and came away with no points. You can’t squander opportunities. You get late in the game and you realize that you missed some opportunities earlier and everything has to be perfect down the stretch.”
On the play of Skylar Jones…
“I thought Sky did some good things. I’m disappointed we had three quarterbacks get hurt tonight. Ted (Stachitas) got hurt early, then Brendan Cross got hurt and then Sky hurt his foot down on the goal line. We were having to work on him just to get him back out on the field. I don’t know what it’s going to take to find someone that’s durable enough to make it through a football game. We went through three of them tonight. It’s hard to go through a week giving a third of the reps to each quarterback hoping that one of them will come through and stay healthy. I thought Sky did some really good things tonight. I thought he threw the ball well at times. Obviously, he doesn’t have a lot of experience so he makes mistakes, but I was pleased with Sky. Hopefully, he can improve.”
On Georgia Tech completing 11 passes in the game…
“It’s disappointing. The thing that would have been disappointing is if they would have gone down the field to kick a field goal to tie, but to go the entire length of the field to win it is more disappointing. You have to give credit to them. I thought Josh Nesbitt did a really nice job. He had a couple of really good runs late and he hit some throws that were really nice. They did what they needed to do. I’m very disappointed that we weren’t able to keep them bottled up a little bit better in the throw game. I thought they did some good things.”
On using the I-formation more in tonight’s game…
“I thought going under center was going to be good for our quarterbacks. I thought we needed to take some pressure off them. With Tanner down, we didn’t know who would be at quarterback so we gave reps to all three of them during the week. We felt one way we could take pressure off those guys is to go under center. We did some good things out of the I. That probably needs to be us a little bit more in the gun and under center some.”
Wake Forest Players
Redshirt Junior Quarterback Skylar Jones
On getting an opportunity tonight…
“Every day I practice to the best of my abilities and I just hope my number is called. It’s sad that my number was called because of injuries tonight. Like I said, I practice hard every day and when I went out there, I had a little bit of the jitters. But once I got that first drive out of the way, I settled down and started to make some plays. Unfortunately, we came up a little short today.”
On whether he got enough reps in practice to be ready for tonight…
“Yes. Definitely. Ted (Stachitas) was the starter but he had some bruised ribs so coach (Grobe) made sure to give me a bunch of reps because you never know what can happen. Unfortunately, Ted went down and so did Brendan (Cross) and it was my turn. I’m glad I got those reps.”
On what he could have done differently on the final scoring drive…
“I don’t know. We need to go in and look at the film and see what I did right and what I did wrong. I played my heart out and the guys know I played my heart out. I tried to stick that ball into Marshall Williams and it would have been a tough catch. But at the same time, that was the only pass play that we called when we were inside the 20. I definitely tried my best but unfortunately, we came up short.”
Redshirt Senior Linebacker Hunter Haynes
On the Wake Forest defensive linemen…
“They are extremely athletic. Guys like Nikita Whitlock, Gelo Orange, Tristan Dorty and Kyle Wilber. They’re really fast players and they were able to read and diagnose and do some damage. It was easy for the linebacker spots – Matt Woodlief and I – because everyone was worried about those guys up front.”
On Georgia Tech making plays through the air instead of on the ground…
“You have to give them credit. They’re athletic players that when the play broke down, Nesbitt made some plays. He’s an experienced quarterback and on the that last drive, he made some serious plays. We were playing well and our coaches got us extremely prepared this week. They worked harder than I’ve ever seen our coaching staff work. I just want to thank them for putting us in the right spots and I wish we could have come up with the plays when we needed to.”