Just finished the Paul Johnson news conference. Some highlights:
1. Johnson gave kudos to Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, noting his run of 18 seasons with eight wins or more in the past 19 years. “What he’s been able to accomplish is remarkable,” he said. “That’s kind of hall of fame numbers there.”
2. Center Jay Finch and guard Will Jackson are ready to practice Monday after sitting out last week’s practice recovering from lower leg and neck injuries, respectively. Johnson said if the game were today, both would be available to play. Johnson said it’s possible having Finch in could change the dynamics of the offense in terms of play calls.
“But we haven’t done a whole lot of that,” he said. “We didn’t do anything differently with Nick that we would have done with Jay.”
3. In response to Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster reportedly changing up his line-up for Tech in order to get more speed and experience on the field, Johnson said it’s a tactic he’s used before and won’t change how he tries to attack Virginia Tech. Previously, he said, the Hokies have used defensive back Kyle Fuller at middle linebacker.
“I’m sure they’re trying to get their best athletes on the field like everybody else,” Johnson said.
4. Johnson said that inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy has earned a starting spot, moving ahead of Daniel Drummond. Nealy subbed for Drummond after he sustained a leg injury in the N.C. State game and has started the four games since. Johnson credited the confidence Nealy has gotten from playing time on sub packages and in the place of Drummond.
“I think he’s kind of earned his playing time,” he said.
5. A key to defending Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas is “getting him out of his spot,” Johnson said, and not letting him gain yards on the run. “And you hope that he doesn’t get hot, because when he goes hot, he goes in streaks. He got hot in the Miami game and he was unbelievable.”
6. A-back Tony Zenon “just hasn’t been in the mix” lately in the rotation, Johnson said. He said that Zenon has been practicing hard, but that “we’ve gotten into a pattern where we play with three guys and two of them happen to be seniors,” meaning Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, along with Orwin Smith.
7. Johnson said the pre-game routine for a Thursday night game is to have breakfast and perhaps a couple special teams meetings in the morning, along with meetings for any players or position groups that want to meet, and then a devotional four hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff, followed by a team meal, and then meetings for offense and defense.
A brief team meeting comes after that, and then the bus ride over to the stadium.
He said the staff will likely set up a movie for players to watch for two reasons.
One, an NCAA rule forbids paying for a movie at a team hotel on the day of a game and second, said Johnson, “You can only watch Judge Joe Brown so long.”
Johnson had no explanation for the NCAA rule. “They’ve got a lot of things I don’t have an idea about,” he said.
Thanks for reading. The kickoff time for the Duke game hopefully should be coming out within the hour.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat