A pretty lengthy media session for Paul Johnson, a bit larger than we had for, say, the Middle Tennessee State game. After that, Dan Radakovich stopped by to make a plea for fans to attend Saturday’s game and also to field questions about Pitt and Syracuse (you heard it here first – Radakovich grew up a Pitt Panthers fan). I’ll attempt a synopsis.
1. Johnson mentioned that some fundamentals on offense could be better, namely blocking on the perimeter – details like angles and proper footwork. Before I forget, he mentioned that Orwin Smith can be a better blocking, not that he’s unwilling, but just has to get the technique down. It reminded me that I a carry, I think by Roddy Jones, in which Smith was out in front and attempted to cut down a Kansas player and was unable to, which curtailed the play.
2. Johnson doesn’t pay attention to the polls, especially this early in the season.
3. On the three-game streak of scores on the first play from scrimmage, Johnson said Tech has been fortunate to hit some big plays and that “I think we all know that’s probably coming to an end.”
4. He isn’t worried about the offense being overconfident, given the size, strength and athletic ability of North Carolina’s defense. Johnson: “If we don’t play well, we’ll get embarrassed. We don’t have anything to be overly confident about, that’s for sure.”
5. He hasn’t given much thought to Pitt and Syracuse joining the conference. “I think we’re fortunate that our presidents and Commissioner (John) Swofford have kind of been on top of that.”
6. He hasn’t decided who will take kickoffs, Chandler Anderson or Justin Moore. It will be determined in practice. Along that line, the two starting offensive tackles will be determined in practice, he said. Phil Smith, Tyler Kidney and Ray Beno had roughly the same amount of snaps at tackle against Kansas, and Beno had another 20 snaps at guard.
7. The punt return team has to do a better job of holding players up to give Zach Laskey a chance to return punts.
8. On his playcalling process: “You just look out there and call what you think will work.”
9. On if he has had a playcalling game like Saturday’s where everything was working: “I’ve had a bunch of games like that at different places.” There have been games where he said he felt like “if you didn’t screw it up, you were going to score.”
10. Of guard J.C. Lanier, “We’ll see what he can do in practice this week. We’re glad to have him back.” Lanier has yet to play this season due to a stress fracture. Johnson said it’s “moot” to think about the possibility of redshirting A-back B.J. Bostic because he’s still injured.
11. Johnson said he’d like to get more pass rush from the defensive linemen, particularly when they’re blocked one on one. However, he noted that those three aren’t always expected to be creating pressure, that their responsibility might be holding a point and allowing the linebackers to get to the quarterback.
12. Johnson was asked, if he were a defensive coordinator, how he’d try to stop Tech’s offense. His response: “If I told you, I think I’d probably have to kill you, wouldn’t I?”
He went on to say “I think you’ve just got to play your defense,” and play your techniques and assignments.
13. Johnson said Kansas played the front that Tech had been expecting or prepared for no more than a half or third of the time. What Tech practices is more getting the offense ready than preparing for the opposing defense, and understanding how to change up blocks according to what players see. “The longer kids have been in the system, the easier it is to do that.” He said he watched the UNC game from 2008, Johnson’s first year, and “God, were we bad.” He said he saw things that then he wanted to do but he couldn’t “because we didn’t understand.”
He said Tech goes into a game with six or seven base plays, but with options to block them three or four different ways.
14. With recruiting A-backs, he said he looks for high school tailbacks that are about 190 pounds that want to run and catch the ball on the perimeter and are willing to block.
15. I asked him about the Ramblin’ Reck for a story I’m working on for this week. He noted that “there’s probably not very many programs or schools in the country that have a symbol that more people recognize, so it’s a neat deal.”
He said he’s ridden in it once but, “quite honestly, about my only dealings with the Ramblin’ Reck is to tell ‘em to get out of the way” when the team is ready to come out of the tunnel.
A lot to do today, but I’ll have the post-practice notes up 9-ish.