Johnson: ‘Sky’s the limit’ for Tech

Greetings-

Just returned from the kickoff luncheon at the Cobb Galleria. Coach Paul Johnson spoke last, after athletic director Dan Radakovich, former center Sean Bedford and A-back Roddy Jones. Johnson had a few noteworthy things to say:

1. He said he was “embarrassed” by the way the team finished the 2010 season, “and I hope our football team felt that way.” That the team wasn’t thrilled with the season isn’t news, but I don’t think I’ve heard him use that strong a word to describe it.

2. Johnson quote: “I really believe you’re going to come out and see a football team that’s going to be hungry, that’s going to fly around, that’s going to play extremely hard and just be kind of generally [hacked] off. We have a lot of reasons to be in that mode, and if we’re not, I’m going to be really disappointed and I’m going to make sure they get in that mode fairly quickly.”

3. He kicked coaches and players off the field with about five minutes left in Thursday’s scrimmage against the scout team because he didn’t think players were playing with necessary intensity. Johnson: “That’s the message we’re trying to send. It’s a message of urgency. Nobody respects you, nobody thinks you can do anything, so it’s up to you to prove them wrong.”

4. Johnson said he believes the “sky’s the limit for our football team” and that the team “might be as talented or more talented athletically and physically than we’ve been since I’ve been here.” Not a small claim, considering the 2009 team had six first-team All-ACC players, including the 2008 ACC player of the year and two NFL first-rounders, as well as a third-rounder and also a 2011 seventh-round pick.

He said he’ll probably play eight or nine true freshmen and seven or eight redshirt freshmen. The true freshmen I am sure will play: guard Trey Braun, defensive back Zach Laskey and wide receiver Jeff Greene. True freshmen I think could play: Guards Errin Joe and Shaq Mason, wide receiver Darren Waller, quarterback Vad Lee and long snapper Sean Tobin. I imagine a linebacker or two will play, but I confess I have no read on that.

Redshirt freshmen I’m confident will play: A-back Tony Zenon, quarterback Synjyn Days, A-back Deon Hill, B-back Charles Perkins, inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy.

5. Johnson said he thought the defense will have two senior starters on defense, maybe three, and for certain one on offense and possibly two. I would think that would be defensive tackle Logan Walls and defensive end Jason Peters, with outside linebacker Steven Sylvester the “maybe.” Linebacker Brandon Watts has challenged Sylvester.

The sure thing on offense is A-back Roddy Jones and the maybe is wide receiver Tyler Melton, who is competing with Greene for the starting job. Melton missed time in camp with a calf strain.

6. He said he likes the schedule and is how he would draw it up if he could, with three non-conference games to start.

The Western Carolina season opener is a chance “to lay the foundation for something special.”

He said he thinks Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 10 “will be a Super Bowl-type game for them,” in that a BCS conference team is coming to its place.

The Blue Raiders lost to Minnesota at home by a touchdown last year, beat Maryland on the road in 2009 and Memphis at home and three years ago, beat Maryland at home and lost to Kentucky on the road 20-14.

“It’ll be wild,” he said.

(An aside: The school’s nickname is the Blue Raiders, but the school’s athletic logo includes a white winged horse on it. Perhaps the Raiders ride atop such magnificent steeds.)

As for the Kansas game Sept. 17, he said, “I’ve got a long memory of standing on that sideline a year ago in Lawrence, Kans. It was not a happy moment or a happy place. Hopefully our guys have the same kind of desire (to avenge the loss).”

North Carolina, Sept. 24: “I hear a lot of people writing off those teams (like Miami or North Carolina). Sometimes that can be a real rallying cry.”

That was about as far as he got on the schedule, though he noted the next game is North Carolina State, “who beat us at our place a year ago.”

He said the team shows consistent improvement as opposed to the 2010 season, which he termed a roller-coaster ride where “we were never really quite sure what we were going to get.”

7. The team will vote for captains after a few games after all of the seniors have a chance to be game captains. The game captains for the opener will be Jones, Walls and Sylvester, who were chosen by the coaching staff.

8. Bedford delivered an impressive speech. He spoke about his appreciation and indebtedness to the school, how he felt blessed that his playing career traveled the course it did and that how the story of his career – hard work, dedication, academic success – isn’t so different from that of his former teammates’. I imagine many of you on the blog would have had heart palpitations hearing it.

He also included a few jabs at the NCAA and Georgia. He appreciated the choice Tech fans make to follow the Jackets and for not falling in line with the trendiness of cheering for Georgia and the ease of being able to “go to a Walmart and buying a red cap with an ugly ‘G’ on it.”

The man knows his audience. I spoke with him briefly aftewards. He started law school at Florida Monday and flew up to give the speech at the luncheon. He said he has 300 pages to read over the weekend. Aiyee.

Thanks for reading. Please follow on Facebook and Twitter.

By Ken Sugiura, AJC

367 comments Add your comment

DoakBoyGT

August 26th, 2011
3:53 pm

Great to hear! I’m ready for thursday!

SamInAtlanta

August 26th, 2011
3:55 pm

1st. This all sounds good. We will be listening and watching. Can not wait for the season to start. Go Jackets!

SamInAtlanta

August 26th, 2011
3:56 pm

Hal

August 26th, 2011
3:56 pm

It sounds like this season will be different….can’t wait. Go Jackets!

DawginLex

August 26th, 2011
3:57 pm

Johnson really needs to keep his mouth shut about Georgia. When you have lost 2 of 3 and the one win was a fluke, he doesn’t have anything to say that sounds anything other than childish.

Would be like Richt making fun of a Florida hat.

I have no problem with his other comments and agree with most of it. I don’t see better athletes than his 1st year though. That one is a stretch.

fan of shorter passes

August 26th, 2011
3:59 pm

Guess Johnson answered the question about red shirt for VLee.

George

August 26th, 2011
4:00 pm

And a special thank you to all of the GT grads in Sri Lanka for making those G hats.

Outside Observer

August 26th, 2011
4:00 pm

Ironically, I once made the comment when I saw a person wearing a Sean Bedford jersey that it must be his mother, because only a mother would wear the jersey of the center. Now, I would be thrilled to be the owner of a Sean Bedford jersey. He is a fine example of a student athlete, a great person, and a humble ambassador for the school. Congrats to Sean and best of luck in your very successful future.

PerimeterCenterJacket

August 26th, 2011
4:01 pm

Got my tailgatin’ gear and am READY TO GO!!!

Go Jackets!

GT86

August 26th, 2011
4:02 pm

Love PJ’s quotes and demeanor! He is pissed and is ready to get 2010 off his mind. Lets hope players are the same! I expect as much. Bring it! 6 days!!

fan of shorter passes

August 26th, 2011
4:03 pm

Lex, Johnson said ???about the dogs?

Hey DawginLex....

August 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

Johnson didn’t make that comment about UGA. That was Sean Bedford.

Outside Observer

August 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

Lex, you normally make much better contributions than that. I mean, considering that Georgia beat Tech after D. Thomas dropped an easy catch (one of maybe two drops on the year) and then won the next year after Scott Blair missed a PAT (again, an extreme rarity), it could be argued that both of those wins were flukes. Luck is a part of football, and any sport for that matter. Also, please note that quote was from Bedford, not CPJ.

Brave Hokie

August 26th, 2011
4:04 pm

Talk about running that chip on the shoulder routine to the ground, whatever…

I thought the Jackets where suppose to be proud win or lose?

Ye ole weak chinned one sounds like he coaching @ West Georgia or something…

Good Luck until Nov 10th.

No way

August 26th, 2011
4:05 pm

Thanks for making the Tech nation proud, Sean.

That was no fluke; Johnson let up!

August 26th, 2011
4:07 pm

Especially after the third quarter.

matt

August 26th, 2011
4:07 pm

dawginlex: Bedford said that about georgia, not Johnson.

Jacket Dad

August 26th, 2011
4:08 pm

I like to hear Johnson’s words and hope this intensity carries over to the team. Whatever caused the funk last year has to stop. I was at the Indy Bowl and their lack of intensity and focus was embarrassing. They need leaders on the team to step up. The coaches can only do so much.

I will continue to support the Jackets big time and hope this year is a vast improvement over last year.

spider

August 26th, 2011
4:08 pm

hey dawginlex. that was bedford who made the hat comment, not johnson

GT Fan

August 26th, 2011
4:10 pm

Ken,

Because Tony Zenon won the “#9 Jersey Race” I’m putting him in the ‘will definitely play’ and play a bunch category.

Good to hear PJ has seen progress. And I sure as heck hope the guys play with a chip on their shoulders!

KB

August 26th, 2011
4:11 pm

PJ should sell used cars.

DawginLex

August 26th, 2011
4:15 pm

GT86

August 26th, 2011
4:16 pm

Hey DawginLex…oh nevermind. GO JACKETS!!

Can't Wait!

August 26th, 2011
4:18 pm

GT Anchorage

August 26th, 2011
4:19 pm

Thats ok DawginLex, your allocation for misinformed comments is one per week. j/k

KB

August 26th, 2011
4:22 pm

Observer if Walsh doesn’t miss a field goal (very Rare) Thomas drop at at the 40 yard line is still moot,40 yards away no timeouts Tech probably still doesn’t score. Both games Dawgs failed to just put tech team away.Tech hasn’t held the lead in a game since 2008.

St. Richt

August 26th, 2011
4:32 pm

You might want to invest in some courses in reading comprehension, DawginLex. Johnson didn’t say squat about Georgia, that was our former center Sean Bedford. You should probably be worrying more about Boise State at this point.

reebok

August 26th, 2011
4:33 pm

DawginLex, good afternoon. Looking forward to watching your team vs. Boise State next weekend…tough game to predict. Reagrding your earlier comment, I don’t think the 1 win Johnson has against UGA was a fluke…all 3 games really could have gone either way. Have a great weekend!

ScoutDawg

August 26th, 2011
4:33 pm

What a joke by coke!

wes

August 26th, 2011
4:34 pm

This Tech fan is more than ready for football season. I can’t wait!

Outside Observer

August 26th, 2011
4:34 pm

KB, you do realize this could be argued for hours? If Ben Anderson doesn’t miss the game, weakening the interior of the defense, do Ealey and King rush for over 300 yards? Please note, it was a 55 yard field goal he missed, which is no guarantee for any kicker, including the best to ever play the game. The fact remains there is a bit of luck in every game. Unless one team completely outclasses the other (see Bama vs. GSU), there will be plenty of opportunities to say “What if”. I think classifying the Tech win as a “fluke” is unrealistic.

St. Richt

August 26th, 2011
4:34 pm

Gotta love our coach. We’ll see what it all equates to on the field, though. The one thing that is clear is that no one is giving us any respect this year so we’ll have to go out and earn it.

ToeMeetsLeather

August 26th, 2011
4:35 pm

95% of Gailey’s guys are gone. CPJ won (26) games with those fine young men, but the last year was not pretty. 9/1 begins phase two of the CPJ era with players recruited for his system, and I think he is building something special. We shall see come October.

GT Anchorage

August 26th, 2011
4:36 pm

ScoutDawg, go drool over those butt ugly uniforms your guys are going to wear next weekend. Should have decided to wear something black… Red is not a good color for funerals.

gtfanfrom1951

August 26th, 2011
4:40 pm

Its time to start playing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

St. Richt

August 26th, 2011
4:40 pm

I would love for DawginLex to elaborate on how Johnson’s win against Georgia in his first year was a fluke. As if the Dawgs have beat us like red-headed step children in their 2 wins against him.

Ken Sugiura

August 26th, 2011
4:41 pm

just to be clear – the names of true and redshirt freshmen who could/should play came from me, not paul johnson. as for vad lee, i don’t know if it’s a given. there’s a lot of defensive true freshmen i don’t know about. i neglected to include db jamal golden as another true fr. possibility.

sorry, sam. so close.

GT Fan

August 26th, 2011
4:44 pm

KB…..I’m not assuming a GT win, but DT’s dropped was at the 30. I believe GT had 1 TO, and the clock was around 1:20. If Nesbett’s 1st down throw was accurate, GT is up 31-30.

Walsh’s miss was from 50+ yards ….tough distance for even NFLers

Either team over the past 3 seasons could be 3-0 …. “Funny” how turnovers/fumbles (not lost) have helped the winner each time. The not lost fumble I’m referring to was Branden Smith’s in 09 at his own 30′ish……J.Tarrant was right there to scope & score but the ball took a whacky bounce to the UGA sideline.

GT9

August 26th, 2011
4:45 pm

Ramblin Man

August 26th, 2011
4:47 pm

Guys I would be surprised if that is the real dawginlex. He usually does not post like that and several UGA trolls do not like him because he will call them out.
Looking forward to the season, but talk is cheap and I heard all about how the team was ready before the season started last year. I do think we have an all around better team and that the new guys are going to contribute. Can’t wait till next thursday and would love to see the new D become the “swarm” again.
Sean Bedford is the man and I too may just buy his jersey.

Ramblin Man

August 26th, 2011
4:52 pm

My main concern is fumbles and special teams. Glad to see O. Smith will be returning KOs and I just wonder who will be back there with him and who will return punts. Hopefully the kickers have something going as well.
I really hope Washington plays as well as he has looked since the surgery and that Hill has finally gotten out of his own way.

GT Anchorage

August 26th, 2011
4:53 pm

Ramblin, I see some distinct differences between this year and last year. I remember some quotes for Johnson saying that he was worried about the teams focus. He also said, on a number of occasions that they could have been better than in ‘09, but lose more games. He has a lot higher praise for these guys this year than last year. I think that the talent pool is a lot better as well. TW will have a few targets that he can hit if need be (if he can hit them).

GT Anchorage

August 26th, 2011
4:54 pm

It sounds like they are ready to play someone other than themselves

collegeballfan

August 26th, 2011
4:54 pm

A lot of you GT and UGA fans sure like to live in the past.

GT Anchorage

August 26th, 2011
4:58 pm

CFBfan, It is college football….

headley lamar

August 26th, 2011
5:05 pm

Las Vegas has the over under of Tech wins at 6

Does that sound special to you?

CPJ is gonna find its hard to win at this level ( even in the ACC ) with a severe lack of talent.

CPJ Recruiting = Fail.

He will win a few games each year because most teams aren’t ready for his trick play gimmick offense.

jack ey

August 26th, 2011
5:05 pm

I do not want to see any fumbles on the 2 yard line when we are in position to score. Put the backup in if that happens. No excuse for losing to Air Force, just not.

Good luck and go get’em Jackets

something special

August 26th, 2011
5:08 pm

. . . . the ‘Sky’s the limit’ equals 14-0 . . . .

headley lamar

August 26th, 2011
5:10 pm

No excuse for losing to Air Force, just not.

I don’t see why? They have about the same talent level and run the same 50’s offense.

Pretty even match id say.

Old Blind Dawg

August 26th, 2011
5:11 pm

Wow – the best team he has had. Could be a fun year on the flats but ……………………