Some tidbits from Paul Johnson’s Tuesday news conference. Onward…
1. Johnson said that Maryland ran a lot of “2-3 exchange” in defending the option. It was part of an answer about Tevin Washington’s 32 carries. As I understood his explanation – perhaps someone on the blog can clarify further – it’s a scheme in which the safety and outside linebacker, as they come down to defend the option on the perimeter, switch assignments in an attempt to confuse the quarterback. He said that wasn’t necessarily the problem as defenses have run that against his offense for years and, he noted, Maryland did it on Washington’s first carry, which he ran for 21 yards.
“We just didn’t do a very good job of executing [the option] at times,” Johnson said.
2. Johnson said he thought the notion that teams with an open date have an advantage preparing for his offense “might be overhyped a little bit.” He said that line of thought is similar to the common refrain about how teams have to play Tech differently.
“We’ll have to play disciplined defense against Virginia,” he said, reciting the common mantra of teams about to play the Jackets. “If we’re not disciplined and our guys don’t play the gaps they’ve got and their responsibilities, we’ll get gashed. So you have to play disciplined defense against Virginia.”
3. Johnson said the offensive line didn’t have one of their better games against Maryland, but that changes likely aren’t forthcoming. Part of it is that there aren’t a lot of choices. “The guards are who they are, and the center (also),” he said.
Guard Shaquille Mason played more in the game, and it sounds like he may get more time.
4. He didn’t have much explanation about why Tech hasn’t done well in Charlottesville beyond the fact that “I guess they’ve had pretty good teams. That’s what causes you to struggle when you go somewhere.”
5. He was asked about preseason predictions and how both Wake Forest and Tech, two teams not predicted to fare well, have done better than expected. Johnson said, not surprisingly, that he doesn’t put much stock into what they say but he might use them for motivational purposes.
He said he hasn’t used it this year, he said. “I might have said in passing, ‘Well, nobody thinks we’re worth a [crud].’”
He said he doesn’t know who picks what unless he’s told. Question of the day: “What about Heather Dinich?”
Big laughs. If you don’t know, Heather is ESPN’s ACC blogger who has become the bane of many Tech fans. (An aside: I’d bet if you went into every ACC team’s message boards, there’d be fans convinced that she has it in for their team. The other thing is that when she picks against Tech, it’s evidence that she doesn’t think much of the team and when she picks for Tech, she’s trying to jinx the Jackets. It’s kind of like how some Tech fans are convinced that Jeff Schultz and Mark Bradley LOVE Georgia and hate Tech. I am confident that there are UGA fans who believe the exact opposite.
Anyway, his reponse:
“Honestly, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “I don’t think any of our games have hinged on who people have picked to win. That’s not been our greatest motivation. Like, Oh, my goodness. Can you guys believe that so-and-so picked us to win?”
6. On kickoff return, Johnson said Morgan Carter had a nice block on Tony Zenon’s long return. Carter is a walk-on linebacker. (He interned at the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, by the way.) He said there’s more work to do on that unit. There was the one big return (Zenon’s 79-yarder) “and the others were so-so.”
7. Johnson gave a pat on the back to B-backs Charles Perkins and Richard Watson, who both have played sparingly after coming up short in the B-back derby in preseason camp. Johnson said he pulled Perkins aside Monday to tell him that “he busted his tail really hard last week” and practiced as hard as anyone on the team. (If you’ll remember, B-backs and quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon opened the spot up going into the Maryland game.) Watson, too, has had a good attitude despite hardly playing, Johnson said. (He was put on the kickoff return team along with Carter last week.)
“Both of those guys have been real positive,” he said.
8. Johnson said defensive coordinator Al Groh knows the Virginia players and their capabilities (he was head coach there until being fired after the 2009 season), but since the offense is going to do what it’s going to do, his information might not be of the greatest value, partly because his knowledge is two years old and also because he’s probably not paying much attention to Virginia’s defense anyway.
He did think it could probably help Groh as he prepares for Virginia’s offense.
“It’s not going to change what we do,” Johnson said..
9. Johnson was asked if he had a chart for two-point conversions and his strategy.
“I’m not real smart, but I can usually do multiples of seven,” he said.
He said it depended a lot on the flow of the game and the time remaining, as well as the score. For instance, he said, “If you feel like it’s going to be a high-scoring game, you don’t worry about it because once you miss you’re going to chase it.”
He did say the coaches in the box have a sheet with the point-differential scenarios and suggested options.
“I can ask what the chart says,” he said. “I usually don’t do that much.”
10. Johnson said he usually watches a lot of football after home games and flipped between Navy, Georgia Southern and the Virginia Tech-Miami game. He said he doesn’t watch looking for ideas, even if it’s teams with similar offenses and former assistants, as the cases are with Navy and Georgia Southern.
“Am I going to jump up and copy Georgia Southern or Navy?” he asked. “Probably not, but that doesn’t mean what they’re doing isn’t good.”
11. He punted on a question about division realignment in light of expansion, including the possibility of a north-south configuration.
“They’ll figure it out,” he said. “They’re not going to ask my opinion anyway, so it really doesn’t matter.”
A note from my colleague Doug Roberson:
Georgia Tech won’t host Georgia until Nov. 26. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t already thinking about the game. Tell us your favorite play in the rivalry, and the AJC will try to track down the players involved and tell you what they remember about that game and what they are doing now. Please send your favorite (just one, please) and why to Doug Roberson to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading. I’ll have post-practice notes up around 9:30 this evening.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat