Sorry for the delay. I just got back from an interview with John and Mary Brock, who provided the lead gift for the Georgia Tech indoor facility. Very gracious couple and big Tech fans, as you might imagine. I can tell you that they don’t have keys to the building. We met outside and had to wait for a project supervisor to let us in. A Q&A should be up by the end of the week.
Got a few leftover notes that didn’t make the notebook, and some sort of unrelated but interesting stuff from coach Paul Johnson about his start in coaching and why he calls plays.
Here’s the link to the notebook, which has all the lineup changes and a few other notes. You also should read Jeff Schultz’s post about what Johnson said about how he would stop the rash of NCAA rules violations.
1. Johnson lauded starting B-back David Sims again for his work ethic and unwillingness to give up when he switched positions and started fourth on the depth chart. In talking about Sims as well as B-back Charles Perkins, he described how Sims’ reaction isn’t necessarily typical.
“I think that sometimes, there’s such an expectation level (to receive playing time), and I’m not talking about Charles in particular. This day and age, guys think they’re entitled. You’ve got to earn something. You don’t just get it because you did something in high school or you did something somewhere else. You’ve got to come in and win the job. David had two ways to go when he was fourth. He could have pouted and left or he could make up his mind that he’s going to outwork guys and try to win the job. To his credit, he took the latter. I think that’ s great example for other guys who aren’t where hey want to be.”
I spoke with Sims Monday after practice and he was pretty candid about being stuck down on the depth chart at quarterback and how he actually did consider transferring. It’ll be in a story scheduled to post Wednesday afternoon and run in Thursday’s paper.
2. In the story I mentioned Monday about the five guys who made a splash in camp, I asked about backup outside linebacker Brandon Watts. I decided not to include him – the story’s linked here – but Johnson said that he’ll be the No. 3 outside linebacker and be on the nickel and dime packages and also play a lot of special teams.
“Brandon Watts is a really good athlete,” he said. “I think he’s more comfortable with what he’s doing. He knows his assignments better.”
4. I mentioned this in a comment on the post about the depth chart, but Johnson made a point to say that just because a player is second on the chart doesn’t mean he’s the next option. A case in point is true freshman corner Jamal Golden, who is listed as a backup. Johnson said he’s more like the fifth or sixth option at cornerback. If Rod Sweeting or Louis Young had to miss time, the next option might be the other No. 2 corner, Michael Peterson. After that, the next choice might be backup safety Jemea Thomas, or possibly Thomas would play safety and starting safety Rashaad Reid would move to corner.
This isn’t to denigrate Golden, but to clarify.
That said, I wonder how many teams in the ACC have three true freshmen on the offensive line two-deep. (Tech has Trey Braun and Shaquille Mason at guard and Errin Joe at tackle. Joe was recently switched out there.) If I have time, I’m going to take a look. I’m going to guess the answer is not many, if any.
Certainly to judge by experience, that is a thin, thin group.
5. Interestingly, to me, at least, Johnson apparently decided not to take advantage of a pretty useful source of intelligence about Western Carolina. Georgia Southern is in the Southern Conference with the Catamounts, and is coached by Jeff Monken, who coached A-backs at Tech and has been a longtime aide to Johnson. Johnson said he spoke last week with Monken about Georgia Southern, but not about Western Carolina.
5. In his answers about Miami and NCAA rules malfeasance, Johnson mentioned how a Tech player got wrongly slammed on a football blog and how it represents the lack of accountability for some media, a pet peeve of his. This happened last week. I confess I don’t remember what blog it was, but there was a post about college football players tweeting things that were obscene or, at the least, ill-advised. Quarterback Tevin Washington was one of the players included.
After Johnson and others at Tech started getting e-mails from fans and alumni, Tech’s sports information staff looked into it and confirmed that Washington doesn’t even have a Twitter account and that the writer was quoting a high school football player in Michigan named Tevin Washington.
6. Johnson unfortunately didn’t bite on my question about what sort of student he was at Western Carolina, but he did talk about his first job – as an in-school suspension teacher at his old high school. After graduating from Western Carolina, he was set to take a teaching and coaching job in the eastern half of the state when he ran into his old high school coach over the summer.
Johnson told him his plans and his old coach asked him to come coach for him instead. Johnson said he’d tried, but that there weren’t any jobs available. So he told Johnson to go see the superintendent. Johnson did, and was told again that no jobs were available. Johnson reported back, and his coach suggested he go back again.
Said Johnson “I went back the next day, and Mr. McGee, who was the superintendent, he said, ‘I don’t have any jobs, I don’t know where I’m going to put you, but I’m going to hire you. We’ll figure it out once school starts.”
His first job was ISS, where, he said, he read “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” cover to cover. (The paperback version available on Amazon is 1,264 pages.)
He mentioned that he was able to call plays in that job, which led to questions about that topic.
He said he has called plays in all but two games as a head coach, his first two at Georgia Southern in 1997. He said early on that year, he was walking around practice monitoring when his former boss, Erk Russell, asked him what he was doing, and told him to get over to the quarterbacks to coach them and to call the plays, because that was his strength and why he got the job.
“I got to thinking about it, and after a couple games, I’m like, If that’s the best way I can help the team, then that’s what I need to do,” he said.
Johnson said he doesn’t hand over playcalling to an assistant because first, he’d end up second-guessing that coach and if he’s going to second guess anyone, he should just do it himself.
Another reason is that he knows when he wants to go for it on fourth down and so he can call plays accordingly. As a coordinator, when the offense got to the opposing 45-yard line on third down, he’d ask the head coach if he had two downs to make a first or just one.
“Because it makes a difference,” he said, “if it’s 3rd down and 5 and you know you’ve got two (plays), or if it’s 3rd and 6 and you know you’ve got one. As a head coach, I already know that.”
Probably more than what you wanted to know, but hopefully interesting to know.
It’s interesting to me that many of you say you’re tired of the non-Tech fans, but some of you can’t seem to keep yourselves from engaging in trash talk with them. My suggestion has been to ignore it. I’m going to try something with this post. Anyone who responds to a non-Tech fan, or the first to independently bring up Georgia, will be banned for a week.
If I had to guess, that means refraining from responding to how Johnson’s first job was good preparation for coaching at Tech, how Johnson screwed up some fourth-down call against Georgia, how Jeff Monken can’t help Tech because Monken can’t play defense, how it figures that Johnson would have to learn how to coach from a Georgia coach, something about the over/under on Tech’s win total, Tech being on probation, Johnson can’t recruit, Tech fans are nerds, etc. On that line of thought, anyone who brings up Javaris Crittenton will also face a week ban, because anyone who thinks that topic is appropriate to use for trash talk deserves at least that much.
My rationale is there’s always going to be people making snarky comments on this blog as long as they know they’re going to get a reaction. If you can’t resist responding, then maybe I can help. I invite you to tell me how idiotic I am. You wouldn’t be the first.
By Ken Sugiura, AJC