Paul Johnson Q&A, Part 4

Fourth segment of interview with Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. This portion deals largely with the quarterbacks, including the upcoming competition in spring practice.

Q: Going into spring practice, where do you have to get better?

A: We’ve got to get better at everything. It’s like when you watch the thing, we weren’t as good at running the triple (option) as we need to be by any stretch. Certainly, we need to be more efficient throwing and the same things every year. I don’t know that it’ll ever change. It’s always going to be like that.

Defensively, you (have to) get better at rushing the passer, being consistent tackling, better in special teams. There’s no any area I can say, ‘Oh, wow, we’re really good there.’ We were pretty good offensively on third downs. I think we led the country or were second (in third-down conversion rate). We probably were in the top 3 or 4 in (fewest offensive) three-and-outs. That’s always a positive. You’d like to get more three-and-outs on defense.

Q: The problems in the passing game, would you say it was a system-wide matter?

A: I don’t know if you can say it’s system-wide or not. We were pretty efficient the first four or five games.

Q: I mean, would you say it was system-wide as opposed to just one player or a position group?

A: Talent, too. I think as the competition level got better, we weren’t quite as good. We could do it against some people and other people, we struggled. Sometimes, it’s matchups and different things. You’re always looking for what will help you in that area. Can you tweak things? Can you do some things that will help you?

Q: How close is Tevin Washington to his ceiling?

A: I don’t know. I think he got a lot better. I think he’ll have to continue to get better or he’ll get passed. But he’s had a knack for doing that. I don’t think anybody thought he would be the quarterback last year and he didn’t let the guys beat him out. I’m sure in their mind, they’re coming this spring to beat him out right now. There’s probably two or three that think they can beat him out. (But) they’ve got to do it. And we’d be a better team if they do. And it’ll make him better fighting ‘em off. Competition’s a great thing.

Q: I imagine the quarterback competition is one you’re looking forward to a lot, especially given the hand you have in coaching those players.

A: I have not had the time to work with those guys like I have in the past. It’s something I miss. I’d like to get more time to do that. Brian (Bohannon) is pretty much coaching them. There’s so much going on (as head coach). You can stick your head in now and then, and during the game, I call the pays and I do that, but during the week, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with them, not like you’d like to.

Q: Do you have any plans to change that?

A: You always have the intention of it changing, but part of being the head coach is you’ve got a lot of other duties. You’re not the quarterback coach. You’ve got a lot of things that happen, a lot of things you’re dealing with. That’s why you hire a guy to do it and you’ve got to trust them to do it.

Q: I remember you telling a story about (former Georgia Southern coach) Erk Russell telling you after you’d become head coach to work with the quarterbacks, because that’s what you do best…

A: I watch practice every day and I’m around the drills and I’m always watching. If I need to go get involved, I will, but Brian’s been doing it now for four years and he knows what he’s doing. He knows what we’re trying to accomplish. You have to trust that he’s going to do a good job with them. I think he does.

Q: Where do Synjyn Days and Vad Lee have to get better?

A: Just get more consistent and be better. They’re both athletic and they bring something to the table. Synjyn’s a really strong runner, big. Needs to take better care of the ball, be consistent that way. I think for Vad, it’s just playing, learning the system. I would hope that he’s going to look a lot different this spring than you would expect a true freshman to come in in the fall.

You’ve got Dennis Andrews in here now. He’s going to be a little bit behind, then you’ve got Justin (Thomas), who’ll come in in the fall. Hopefully, this spring, we can sort out the Vad-Synjyn deal and know where that stands. And as compared to Tevin, we’ll see where they stand.

If both of ‘em beat him out, then we’ll see where you go, but you’d hope within 15 days, they’ll start to give you some idea of how that’ going to unfold.

Q: Are you hoping that after spring practice, you’ll have a good feel for who’s going to be the guy?

A: I don’t know if in 15 practices, if you’re going to know that, but certainly, you’ll be a lot closer to it than you would otherwise. What we’ve got to do is find a way in the spring to make sure that we give ‘em enough reps to get ‘em a chance to do it. Tevin’s played a lot; he might be the guy that gets less reps because he knows the system.

When we scrimmage on Saturday mornings, he may get a series or two with the [first string]. We’ll see how it goes. But you’ve got to let the other two guys play if you’re going to find out who’s going to be the better of the two.

Q: There was a school of thought that you might have been better served if Lee had gotten playing time early. I’m wondering what you thought about that.

A: We were one penalty away from probably winning our division and going to the ACC championship. At what point would have put him in? The other kid (Washington) was leading the country in passing efficiency for six weeks. He was 6-0. Are you going to take him out and put a true freshman in?

You’re not going to waste a year of eligibility to put him in in the fourth quarter when you’re ahead 70-20. I mean, I’m not. It’s like, in my mind, we didn’t even get Synjyn in enough. There’s no way you’re going to get three of them enough reps.

Thanks for reading. Part 5, which I think will be the last one, will be posted Wednesday morning.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

264 comments Add your comment

Wal-Mart Retards

March 6th, 2012
6:11 am

Wal-Mart Retards

March 6th, 2012
6:12 am

Sho’ nuff!

Biff Pocoroba

March 6th, 2012
6:29 am

I’d have more confidence in Bohannon if he could teach someone the forward pass. Until someone can complete a few passes consistently, CPJ needs to spend more time working with them.

ToeMeetsLeather

March 6th, 2012
6:36 am

Would love to see the spring play out like this; Lee makes tremendous progress and Washington embraces the mentor role and is ready to enter the game at the drop of a hat. Days accepts a move to A-Back to begin the the transition to take over for Big O after Orwin’s big senior season.(or to the safety position to play behind his LB brother). Then Lee sees in the fall how tough it is going to be to hold on to his spot in 2013 when Thomas wows everyone in August. What say you?

ToeMeetsLeather

March 6th, 2012
6:41 am

Don’t we have the technology to fast forward through the summer to Labor Day after March Madness and the Masters?

Tokyo jacket

March 6th, 2012
7:14 am

Anyone who thinks that TW didn’t improve at all last year needs to look at this: “The other kid (Washington) was leading the country in passing efficiency for six weeks. He was 6-0. Are you going to take him out and put a true freshman in?”

He had a backslide last year (as did the whole team). He’ll be ready to go at the start of this year.

Ken, any questions as to whether or not we’ll be seeing more shotgun like we did in the bowl game?

Alabama Jack

March 6th, 2012
7:22 am

Nice job, Ken. Thanks.

SA

March 6th, 2012
7:37 am

A lot better for tevin? Now if that isn’t coaches talk, I don’t know what is. I saw NO improvement over the 4-5 games from 2010. In teh uga game, he played much worse.

Tokyo jacket

March 6th, 2012
7:42 am

TML, I gotta disagree with you about starting Lee. I’d rather see a productive senior year from TW with Lee learning on the sidelines so that he can be put right in a successful situation when he takes over after TW’s graduation. Other than that, I like your scenario of Days moving to A-back and probably taking over a starting spot, or at least getting in the rotation, come fall. All he has to learn is how to block. The kid can clearly run.

Tokyo jacket

March 6th, 2012
7:50 am

SA, you’re missing the point dude. You have to look at the body of work. He played lights out in the first 4 games of the season, albeit against lesser competition. He played good enough to win against Utah, but there was some questionable playcalling there, and finally, don’t forget the number of drops that Mr. Hill and our A-backs had at times. I saw marked improvement especially in the 10-20 yard passing range – a lot more touch (sometimes too much) and putting the ball usually where it wasn’t going to be intercepted.

SA

March 6th, 2012
7:56 am

Tokyo the competition he faced in the first 6 games was a joke.
You saw the true TW in the second half of the season and it was dreadful. The end of the 2010 season had vt duke uga and air force. Very similar to the end of 2011 and I saw no improvement in him against those teams and the scoreboard reflects that too. His numbers do as well. Did much poorer against uga last year than in 2010. Where’s the upside?

FL Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:01 am

SA…

Is TW not allowed struggle? He had great passing games against Duke and Utah in the 2nd half of the season…and made some pretty good throws agains Clemson. I believe one of his TD passes was dropped.

FL Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:05 am

Ken…

Do you think the “one penalty away from winning the division” and going to the ACC Championship was…

A) Attaochu’s PF against Virginia Tech, or…
B) the block in the back against Virginia that negated TD in the 2nd half?

Max Sizemore

March 6th, 2012
8:15 am

Those folks who believe Tech should improve its passing game simply don’t understand that to run Tech’s option offense effectively you cannot devote much time to the passing game. That’s the way it is and always has been. Do Army or Navy throw it well? Did Air Force, under DeBerry? Folks, it’s not gonna happen. So get over it. Be happy with the third-down conversion rate.

gt4ever

March 6th, 2012
8:22 am

Just be happy that we can hang our hat on being the number 1 passing team in the country after 6 games….. Yikes…

Paul in NH

March 6th, 2012
8:23 am

CPJ is referring to Attaochu’s PF against VT.
If GT had beaten UVA and still lost to VT they would not have won the division. They needed to beat VT.

gt4ever

March 6th, 2012
8:23 am

@FL Jacket

He is STILL throwing the kid under the bus! Yeah, that one penalty cost us a trip to the ACC game…. What an IDIOT!

SA

March 6th, 2012
8:26 am

Wow really you’re bringing up passing against dook? Good grief.

FL Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:26 am

Paul…

Thanks, I imagine its what he was referring to as well. I know CPJ downplayed it during the weeks following the VPI game. However, he’s the first person to talk about how emotional kids can be, and how it’s really easy for them to lose concentration.

FL Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:30 am

SA…

Obviously you only want to talk about when he screws up instead of the games he doesn’t (like 11/15 against Utah)…so let’s leave it there.

Not Disappointed!

March 6th, 2012
8:31 am

Great questions and answers! Good Job Ken!
Go Jackets!

SA

March 6th, 2012
8:40 am

Max
If you’re bringing in a new kid for the first time, yes. Not a 2nd or 3rd year. Techs passing problems stem from a qn who doesn’t have better arm strength and lack of practice or experience.
Navy qb, ricky dobbs, who is from atlanta, threw for 1500 yards in 2010. Had just 6 ints and a completion % of 55% compared to 49% for tevin. The point is when you get a qb like this one who can run the option and pass with some consistentcy, then that means the option game will be that much better. Navy doesn’t get near the caliber of players as we do. Yet this qb led them to a great season.

WnE

March 6th, 2012
8:42 am

re:
Q: Going into spring practice, where do you have to get better?

A: We’ve got to get better at everything. It’s like when you watch the thing, we weren’t as good at running the triple (option) as we need to be by any stretch. Certainly, we need to be more efficient throwing and the same things every year. I don’t know that it’ll ever change. It’s always going to be like that.

__________________

There’s an old saying in coaching that Mike Leach formerly of Texas Tech likes to use:

EITHER YOU’RE COACHING IT OR YOU’RE ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN!

It is embarrassing for CPJ to make $2.5 million per yr. and then sit here and tell the GT fanbase that he doesn’t know “that it’ll ever change” (GT passing more efficiently)………”it’s always going to be like that”

IF it’s always going to be like that, then WE(GT Fans) need to ask is CPJ the right man for the friggin’ JOB?

I wonder did CPJ tell Vad Lee & Justin Thomas this BEFORE he recruited them:

“Certainly, we need to be more efficient throwing and the same things every year. I don’t know that it’ll ever change. It’s always going to be like that.”

I wonder HOW Vad & Justin feel AFTER reading those comments above?

Does anyone believe that a HC with that kind of out-look towards the passing game, is really going to do what is necessary to improve GT’s Passing Game?

No wonder CPJ doesn’t like doing Interviews & media stuff, he really gets EXPOSED for how incompetent he is when he does these types of in-depth interviews.

My question to all you CPJ-boot-licking-toadies is, is CPJ allowing it to happen or is HE COACHING IT?

dawgfan

March 6th, 2012
8:47 am

Great interview. What I take from this is that Georgia Tech needs to work on playing more bad teams. That seems to solve most of their problems. Passing efficiency goes up. The defense plays better. Tevin Washington isn’t completely in over his head. Georgia Tech is just an all round better football team when it is playing crappy teams. Paul Johnson is a genius. Coaches everywhere must be reading this thinking “Why in the hell didn’t I think of that?!?!?!”

Thanks.

SA

March 6th, 2012
8:47 am

You act like Utah is some elite team? They were a 7-5 team in a weeaaak pac 12 league.
I do agree he had a good passing game against the utes. Which made me even more confused when we ran the ball in the 4th qtr against them and stopped passing. That is what cost us the game.

WnE

March 6th, 2012
8:50 am

re:
Q: The problems in the passing game, would you say it was a system-wide matter?

A: I don’t know if you can say it’s system-wide or not. We were pretty efficient the first four or five games.
________________________

This Q & A shows complete disrespect & CONTEMPT for all the GT fanbase!

CPJ should KNOW that the quality of the competition that GT played the first 4 or 5-games of the season is no way to FAIRLY judge GT’s passing game, CPJ must think that the GT fanbase is STUPID!

Only a boot-licking-toady would read that Q & A and not be pi$$3d at CPJ for that bull-cr@p answer.

For this guy to say that we passed efficiently the first 4 or 5 games when talking about our passing game woes shows that CPJ doesn’t give a rats *$$ about what the fans think or want.

You can get angry at ME all you want but YOUR HERO, GENIUS HC just disrespected you worshipers much worse than I ever could!

FL Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:52 am

WnE…still waiting on a response.

Please explain the logic of decrying CPJ for his inability to bring in top-notch recruits, and then harrass top-notch recruits into not coming to Tech?

..
..

“I wonder did CPJ tell Vad Lee & Justin Thomas this BEFORE he recruited them:”

Why don’t YOU tell us what Vad Lee said?

ramblingbuzz

March 6th, 2012
8:56 am

Is GT better off with CPJ or better off without him? Depends on who you ask. However, some of his answers stick in my craw.

ramblingbuzz

March 6th, 2012
8:58 am

Like the one about being one penalty away from the championship game. He sounds very defensive.

Tokyo jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:58 am

SA, the fact remains that TW played well enough to win a conference championship. He played well enough to win against UVA, VT, and Utah. The team did not win those games however. What I look for in TW is improvement from 11 to 12 that turns those three “could haves” to “dids.”

Sizemore, which of the teams you’ve listed has gone to a BCS bowl? Bottom line is that you have to have a respectable passing attack. If you think you can’t run the option without at least respectable passing, look at (Meyer’s/Tebow’s) UF, Oregon, and WVU.

Dallas Jacket

March 6th, 2012
8:58 am

Good Job Ken. The majority of Tech Fans love Coach Johnson and I am one of them. The guys who get on here to bitch about the coach are not being realistic.I love the Triple Option. The offense is not a problem. I do agree we must get better on defense and of course special teams but most of us support Coach Johnson 100%. Go Jackets. THWG!

Jacket fan in Wisconsin

March 6th, 2012
9:02 am

Dawgfan….What ???? Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss even Tennessee lately………..Bwahahah

dawgfan

March 6th, 2012
9:02 am

ramblingbuzz, that’s the sort of thing that Tech fans love to hear. They love to hear about how close they were to doing this or that. Georgia Tech football holds the NCAA record for moral victories. Look it up.

Jacket Fan

March 6th, 2012
9:04 am

Fans would rather see Vad play QB this coming Fall and experience the learning curve than to go through the season we had last year with Tevin. Vad will make more of an exciting QB for GT. That’s what will sell the tickets and keep ALUMNI happy!

WnE

March 6th, 2012
9:06 am

re:
FL Jacket
March 6th, 2012
8:52 am
___________

You must really like beating DEAD HORSES, those 8-12 tweets were discussed ad nauseam, they were made 15 MONTHS AGO, and have been talked about in various blogs and on various message boards MONTHS AGO.

I will tell you that a certain Recruit (VL) was critical of GT’s offense during the Indep. Bowl and hinted that GT was going to change their Offense for him, then I merely posed a few questions, and then he became “whiny & fragile” and claimed my few questions were bothering him, so I wished him luck, end of story.

If you’re late to the party, then I’m not doing anything “special” for YOU to satisfy you.

Asked & answered ice-hole, if you want any more responses go and do your research.

WnE

March 6th, 2012
9:09 am

re:
Good Job Ken. The majority of Tech Fans love Coach Johnson and I am one of them. The guys who get on here to bitch about the coach are not being realistic.I love the Triple Option. The offense is not a problem. I do agree we must get better on defense and of course special teams but most of us support Coach Johnson 100%. Go Jackets. THWG!
_____________________

The “Offense” is 1-11 vs. top-50 defenses over the last 2 seasons!

The Offense is NOT the problem vs. CRAPPY Teams, but against teams that are at least AVERAGE, we are scoring in the low 20s, and we aren’t winning games vs. “decent defenses” (Top-50).

Fans that think the Offense isn’t the problem, ARE A PART OF THE PROBLEM!

Ken Sugiura

March 6th, 2012
9:13 am

Fl Jacket – as Paul said, the Virginia Tech penalty, for the reason paul gave, if no other. he’s made mention of it at least one other time that i can think of.

Jacket fan in Wisconsin

March 6th, 2012
9:14 am

Dawgfan…+ Auburn and Florida this year…..that’s 9 wins UGA should get just by showing up. Point being you can’t always know what strength your schedule is going to be like, except for the cupcakes they ALL ( UGA included ) have every year.So eager to bash Tech…check your own schedule first.

Ken Sugiura

March 6th, 2012
9:14 am

ToeMeetsLeather – i’m not going to say you’re describing the ideal scenario – i’m not sure at this point what would be – but it’s one that isn’t far-fetched.

5 star recruits, 2 star results

March 6th, 2012
9:15 am

Great insight there dawgfan, all teams tend to look better when playing against lesser competition. I seem to recall some team last year getting all pumped up about a 10 win run only to get smoked in their conference championship game as well as losing a mid level bowl game to a slightly above average opponent. But they looked damn good for those 10 games.

5 star recruits, 2 star results

March 6th, 2012
9:19 am

Wne, do you really think that CPJ was referring to a mediocre passing game as something that will never change and will always be like that? It was clear that he was referring to the need for those things to improve as the things that will never change. You are pathetic.

SA

March 6th, 2012
9:20 am

Jacketfan
My thoughts too. I don’t mind both TW getting some playing time, but I want to see Vad play too. we know what TW brings to the table. Good kid, decent player but not enough talent to win the big games. He reached his ceiling.

Jacket fan in Wisconsin

March 6th, 2012
9:22 am

5 star….Exactly the point. Even UGA has 7 gimmes on their schedule this year. Including weaker than normal Florida and Auburn that’s 9 wins they should get just by showing up. Point being you can’t always know what your strength of schedule will be , except for the cupcakes they ALL (UGA included) have every year. Dawgfan is so eager to bash Tech, he forgets to check his own schedule…..Bwahahah

5 star recruits, 2 star results

March 6th, 2012
9:26 am

At least he is consistent in his rhetoric, Wisconsin. He’s on these tech blogs every day, talking the same nonsense. Perhaps instead of dawgfan, his handle should be something along the lines of techhater. Not entirely sure he even follows or enjoys UGA football, seems more obsessed with Tech.

WnE

March 6th, 2012
9:28 am

re:
Q: There was a school of thought that you might have been better served if Lee had gotten playing time early. I’m wondering what you thought about that.

A: We were one penalty away from probably winning our division and going to the ACC championship.
____________________

Wow!

Just WOW!

CPJ breaks the ENTIRE SEASON down to ONE PENALTY IN ONE GAME!

If that’s not THROWING Attachou “under the bus”, then I don’t know what is.

Kinda HARD to Recruit top flight players when you have a Rep of throwing guys under the bus when something goes bad.

A lesson on being a good HC:

Athletes egos are fragile, fair is not what you’re looking for as a HC, what you’re looking for is to keep the Mental stability of your team at a constant high level, and this is how you do it CPJ:

Whenever something goes WRONG, “Me & my Coaching staff didn’t get it done”; and whenever something goes RIGHT, “the PLAYERS came though big-time, they make it easy on us coaches”.

That’s HOW you handle that situation CPJ, you don’t say “we’re one penalty away from the ACC-CG thereby throwing the player that committed the penalty UNDER THE BUS.

And you GT fans wonder why CMR & guys like Saban, Miles, Spurrier can out-Recruit GT & CPJ so easily.

Jacket fan in Wisconsin

March 6th, 2012
9:36 am

5 star…….Really ??? People actually do that ???? Sad……

WnE

March 6th, 2012
9:38 am

re:
Wne, do you really think that CPJ was referring to a mediocre passing game as something that will never change and will always be like that? It was clear that he was referring to the need for those things to improve as the things that will never change. You are pathetic.
_____________________

Like I said above:

Either you’re coaching it, OR you’re allowing it to happen!

CPJ has his staff set up so that Coach Bohannon coaches BOTH the B-Backs & the QBs, this is done so that the MESH & the PITCH can be worked on as a PRIORITY over passing mechanics and the Passing Game.

I was the ONLY GT Fan to question this set up back in DEC. 2007 when CPJ was hired, CPJ also had TWO OL-coaches, something that would not have changed if Spencer had not been caught VIOLATING NCAA RULES.

Let’s see; for his first 4 years on campus, CPJ had TWO OL coaches, and the QB coach had to split his time between the B-Backs & the QBs.

With that kind of set-up do you really think that CPJ is serious about TEACHING his QBs good throwing & passing Mechanics, or a good Passing Game?

Quite simply:

Either you’re allowing it to happen, OR you’re coaching it!

Take your pick, but for $2.5 Million per yr. GT isn’t getting their money’s worth!

George Stein

March 6th, 2012
9:40 am

Ken, has Johnson ever indicated how they break out their practice sessions? I know they are allowed 20 hours a week for all football related activities (not sure if that’s inclusive of games and travelling), but I’d be interested to know how much practice time is allocated toward option stuff, passing stuff, and how much time they spend in their position practices. Do you have feel for that?

SA

March 6th, 2012
9:40 am

Wne
PJ is correct. That play completely changed the outcome of the game and the season. Win that game and it’s off to the acc champ game. We were handling vt and that bonehead penalty changed everything. Sometimes it is one play that can change everything. And I am sure JA would admit this.

George Stein

March 6th, 2012
9:41 am

Ha! Yeah, Saban and Spurrier are NEVER publicly critical of their players. What the hell planet are you living on, WnE?