Paul Johnson Q&A, Part 5

Q: Who’s the best player on the team?

A: I don’t know. Be hard to say. I have the coaches rate ‘em.  You’d be surprised who they thought. What is it, nine coaches? There’s a lot of different opinions.

Q: Is it by position, or overall?

A: I have ‘em rate ‘em all. Rate the offense and the defense. I let the defensive coaches rate the offense. They do ‘em both. It’s always interesting to see everybody’s take, who they think are good. (A player that) some guys might have had as 1,  the other guy has as 12. It’s like with a girl – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Q: You rank them 1 through 85?

A: You can have anybody you want. Take the offense, rank ‘em 1 through, whatever, 30. Guys who play. Take the defense, rank ‘em 1-30.

Q: Is that a common practice?

A: Probably a lot of people do that. I’ve done that for a long time. It’s just interesting to me to see. Then you can get the comprehensive averages and you just kind of see. Because you develop relationships with those guys as your position coach that sometimes somebody from afar looks at them differently.

So, one thing about being a head coach that I really miss and that you see and you try not to override the assistant coaches unless it’s really obvious to you that somebody’s better, but from a distance, I miss the close relationships you have when you’re at a position because you can’t have that relationship with 120 guys.

But I can also stand and watch practice and I don’t meet with them every day,  so I may have an opinion on who’s the better player unbiased. The personal feelings don’t come into it. And for the most part, you try to let the assistant coaches, you go with what they think unless you just see a guy and you think, ‘This guy needs to play.’ Then you go, ‘Why is he not playing?’ and he needs to play. But that doesn’t happen very often.

Q: Can you tell me anything about the list?

A: (Shaking his head). I don’t want the kids to know.

Q: Has that ever helped you make decisions about playing time?

A: It’s just there. it’s just interesting to see what their perception is. Alot of times, it’s a lot different because the offensive coaches will have different offensive kids ranked first as opposed to what the defensive coaches will have. Inevitably, what happens is sometimes guys are scout-team All-Americans where they’re on the scout team and they run off a card and they don’t have to think.

Nothing happens if they do it wrong or they drop a ball and all of the sudden they become really good. Now you get in the (offensive) system and you’re not as good. Same thing on defense. If I line up over there and I’m the free safety running the alley and I don’t care if they throw it over my head (because) I’m on the scout team, well, I can blow people up on the line of scrimmage like crazy.

So if I’m the offensive line coach, I’m thinking, Man, that guy’s really good. But in essence, when he gets in a real game and he has to worry about not getting it thrown over his head, he’s not nearly as fast coming up there. So it’s just a process there. It’s nothing more. We don’t go off of that. I don’t go off of that.

Q: How does the competition at safety look? I know Fred Holton is coming back from his Achilles injury.

A: Fred’ll be back and we’re excited about him. We may have to move some guys around. There were some freshmen that were redshirted. The goal is to get the best players on the field. If Rod Sweeting, Louis Young and Jemea Thomas are the best players, common sense would tell you one of them might need to be the other safety.

If you’re going to play with five (defensive backs), then maybe it’s Fred, maybe Fred’s better than them at safety. Maybe it’s whoever, some of those freshmen – Domonique Nobles, Jamal Golden, Corey Dennis, there’s a lot of those guys. Chris Milton. I think we’ve got some pretty good athletes back there. That’s what spring football’s for. Somebody’s going to come out of the blue. They always do.

Q: Chris is at safety?

A: Chris is at corner, safety but they’re interchangeable. Corey Dennis is back there. I’ve already moved Zach Laskey. He’s going back to running back.

Q: What about wide receiver?

A: I think we’ve got some good players. We’ll see what they do. We’ve got some talented freshmen. It’s Chris Jackson’s turn to step up. We’ll see if he will. Jeremy Moore has been hurt, hasn’t played. Now he’s got a chance. You couple that with the freshmen, I’m not worried about that. I think we’ll be fine.

Q: What about B-back. I imagine you’re hoping Charles Perkins pushes David Sims.

A: We’ve got three or four guys. You’ve got David Sims, you’ve got Charles, you’ve got Zach Laskey. Broderick Snoddy could play there, maybe. He might. Who knows? That’s what he played in high school. So there’ll be competition there.

Q: And inside linebacker?

A: We’ve got a bunch of guys. Julian didn’t play the last three quarters of the bowl game. You’ve got (Daniel) Drummond, Quayshawn (Nealy), Jabari (Hunt-Days), who redshirted, Anthony Harrell, Tremayne McNair. Those outside (linebacker) guys can go in there (also). We’ve got more depth than we’ve ever had. We’ve about got the numbers to where you want them, per position.

Q: I’ve heard good things about Jabari.

A: He’s a test freak. He needs to take it to the field. He’s an imposing-looking, good-looking (player). We’ve never had guys who look like him play. He’s 240 pounds, can run, 6-2, 6-3. I mean, he’s an imposing guy. How quickly can he take it to the field?

Q: Could Izaan Cross play at nose tackle?

A: He could. There again, you want to get your best players on the field, so we’ll see how it unfolds. There’s a bunch of those guys on scholarship. ‘Too Tall’ (Emmanuel Dieke) has played a lot, Euclid (Cumming) has played a lot, T.J. (Barnes) has played a lot. We need to get something out of Shawn Green. Anthony Williams. All those guys have played. Chris Crenshaw’s played. Jimmie Kitchens will be back out here in the fall. We’ve got four coming in.

Q: Could any of the incoming freshmen play?

A: We’ll see. If they end up being one of the six best (they will).

Q: Is it easier for a true freshman to come in play as an end or a tackle?

A: I don’t think it matters.

Q: I’ve seen Pat Gamble listed as both a nose tackle and defensive end.

A: He’s a defensive end.

Q: With Shawn Green, does he just need to get better?

A: He needs to get in shape. Once he gets in shape, he got hurt, broke his leg and that hurt. I don’t know that he’s ever been in shape to play. We’ve got to do a better job. He’s got to do a better job.

Q: With T.J. Barnes, it looks like a matter of consistency.

A: He’s to the point where this is his chance. Do you want to be a 15-play a game guy or do you want to play? We’ll see how hard he works in the spring and summer.

Q: If you look at him, it looks like he has what you’d want at that position.

A: He’s a big kid, but Shawn Green, he might have been the best defensive lineman in the state coming out. Anthony Williams was a heck of a player in high school, heavily-recruited kid.

Thanks for reading. The sixth segment will be posted Thursday morning.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

355 comments Add your comment


March 7th, 2012
7:43 am

You are doing a great job Ken. Thanks for filling the void this off-season.


March 7th, 2012
7:46 am

Thanks, Ken. I feel this was the most insightful of the Q&A series. I’m ready for some Spring football news!!

FL Jacket

March 7th, 2012
7:49 am

Nice job Ken…looks like we’re getting a bonus on that 6th!

Why would I not be surprised that Adam Gotsis might add 10-20 lbs in the summer and compete immediately for the NT spot?


March 7th, 2012
7:51 am

when does CPJ officially land on the hot seat??


March 7th, 2012
7:56 am

Just hoping that the depth on defense translates into improvement on the field.

old gold and white

March 7th, 2012
7:57 am

wish we had one of these a day til spring practice.. hopefully we’ll fill bobby dodd at T day


March 7th, 2012
8:00 am

Thanks, as always, for the write up, Ken! I’m really looking forward to this season!

ED, I guess it’s whenever you and the rest of the big money donors look at the win-loss column, coupled with the off-the-field results of the team, and decide that the current regime isn’t and probably won’t ever get it done. If you think that’s the case with this team, I think you should do your due-diligence instead of reading WnE’s posts, having pee-pee envy with bama’s recruiting classes, and letting dwag-fans make you feel bad about yourself.


March 7th, 2012
8:00 am

Sounds like they have some real problems on the defensive line over in bumblebee land. You can’t run the defense they do without a big nose tackle and the bees don’t have one. It will be a long season over at the high school stadium on North Avenue.

Old Gold Britches

March 7th, 2012
8:06 am

Thanks again Ken. Getting pumped for spring practice!


March 7th, 2012
8:12 am

Great job Ken! Have youheard anything about Tech moving to the BIG Ten in a year or two?


March 7th, 2012
8:19 am

Time to hire a wide receivers coach

chas jacket

March 7th, 2012
8:24 am

Really good news about shawn green being available. I believe he was a 4 star DL out of HS but for some reason i thought his injury was career ending. Ken/anybody know more about this?

Tech Fan

March 7th, 2012
8:40 am

My concern? These defensive guys seem to have a lot of potential, but then they get turned over to Al Groh and we have another paper-tiger defense. When is Groh going to actually do something with, or about, the defense?


March 7th, 2012
8:50 am

A good segment, Ken. Thanks.

Tokyo jacket

March 7th, 2012
8:52 am

Ken, this seems to be one of the best ones you’ve posted. Can you tell us how genuine he was when he talked about having the right numbers? Was he excited or was that just coachspeak? My take is that Tech has had a serious imbalance at all positions for the last few years. If we’ve got the right numbers and some players step up, we could start to have continuous 9+ win seasons.

Tokyo jacket

March 7th, 2012
8:55 am

Tech fan, look at Groh’s history and year 3 is his big year. It takes time to teach AND recruit for the 3-4. IF Days can add a little pass rush to Attaouchu and we don’t punch anyone in the head this year, we should be much improved on D.

GT Dude

March 7th, 2012
9:05 am

Sounds like we are finaling starting to get some depth :-)
Now if our boys put in the work during the spring and summer, I think we will be in good position to put 9 or 10 in the win column.
Go Jackets!!!


March 7th, 2012
9:14 am

Attaochu is a playmaker. His name should be Attacksu because that’s what he does. The penalty, while unfortunate, was not deserved. When I watched it, I did not think it was intentional. I think he was trying to swipe at the ball because the whistle was not blown and missed big time. Plus, what kind of damage can be done punching a helmet? If Attacksu wanted to punch you in the head, you would know it. You might not remember it, but you would know it at the time.

look for WnE

March 7th, 2012
9:15 am

to start his “paul johnson spurned my advances ” hate fest after the breakfast crowd has thinned out and continue with it until the lunch crowd starts trickling in.

i hope he pays a bit more attention to the men’s room this time. we have dawgs that patronize the restaurant where he works and we all know what dawgs fans do on the floor eh dawg fan?

re adam grotis

March 7th, 2012
9:21 am

i didnt read the article on the game but the headline insinuated that the football playing aussies took it to the best of the best from the usa in their recent match.

due to some legal issues i guess adam would have started but couldnt play. from what i have heard he has quite the nasty disposition. the same disposition that serves rugby players so well.

anybody have any further info?

would be awesome to develop a pipe line of aussie players including some kickers.


March 7th, 2012
9:21 am

Ken is spoiling us with his interviews and updates. I’m starting to get accustomed to the quality coverage of the Jackets.

gee tech fan....

March 7th, 2012
9:27 am

you dont have much patience do you. sheesh. the guy has been here 2 years and you expect him to be an instant success with players that dont even fit his scheme.

talk about being unrealistic!

from my perspective i saw some of the best d back play we have had in many years last year. we were young last year. 2nd youngest team in the entire nation.

having said all that you seem to want us to d up like bama. wtf dude. get real, lets give al some time.

to give a critique like you did after 2 years is totally off base.

after seeing some of the comments

March 7th, 2012
9:30 am

here and on the boards i do think we could have jesus as head coach and the holy ghost as the d coordinator and some guys would still whine.

maybe those guys need to change allegiance and root for the dawgs or better yet they can join the whine and cheese crowds at unc or uva.


March 7th, 2012
9:39 am

DYNAMICBIGBOY, why don’t you get your sissy butt back over to “Peidmont Park / Ansley and find one of your boyfriends. We don’t give a damn what you think. On the subject of stadiums you were likely one of the ones that hung out “under” the stadium with your “guy friends” while the men were playing football.

George Stein

March 7th, 2012
9:51 am

I thought Shawn Green and Anthony Williams were both heavily recruited players (along with Denzel McCoy). Perhaps they’ll take the leap this year and we’ll see the improvement we’ve been waiting for.

I didn’t know Snoddy was big enough for B-back. He’s listed as 5-9, 190. Whatever. They need to get more out of that position next year than they got this year.


March 7th, 2012
9:57 am

good article, thanks Ken

Tokyo jacket

March 7th, 2012
9:57 am

All we need is for our defense to be top 40, the rest will take care of itself with a moderate improvement on D.

Freddie Blassie

March 7th, 2012
9:58 am

CPJ has forgotten more football than we will ever know. He works 70 hour weeks and his assistants probably work more hours than that. BUT you guys on the scout team keep knocking your first string team mates into the coach’s laps and beat on these starters until the whistle on every play and drill, you will get noticed. Team mates will call you a cheap shot guy and CPJ’s label, “scout team all American” might be used, but keep busting them within the rules, fight them if you must, BUT you will play on Saturday if you keep it up.


March 7th, 2012
10:01 am

Nice series of articles out of the interview Ken.

I trust the next article will touch on the OL.


March 7th, 2012
10:12 am

as much as I dislike the Offense we run…. If the defense would produce, it would make this offense and team a whole lot better…. I just don’t see that we have the talent in the trenches to make it work.. I hope I am wrong… Can’t wait for football season!

Hello? Anybody home?

March 7th, 2012
10:41 am

Thanks for the article, Ken. Keep up the good work. I’m not ready to join the Groh-hate wagon but I hope that year three under his reign will start to produce some visible improvements.


March 7th, 2012
10:42 am

@ ED,……..will never happen. In CPJ we trust!



March 7th, 2012
10:43 am

high tech you’re an idiot. he was clearly frustrated that he couldn’t bring down the big vt qb so he smacked his helmet. the ball was in the qb’s chest. not up in the air. quit making excuses. he’s have to be retarded to do what you said.


March 7th, 2012
10:47 am

he’s have to be retarded to do what you said.
That’s funny.

Jacket fan in Wisconsin

March 7th, 2012
10:48 am

Great job Ken…….better than homer junkyard.

5150 UOAD

March 7th, 2012
10:50 am

Ok KEN nice work. Now go spend some quality time with your beautiful family you deserve a break. Well, after Friday night Tech Basketball should be over and you can rest until the women start their tournament run.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 7th, 2012
10:54 am

@ BGA, the play did deserve a penalty, but it was certainly not a flagrant foul.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 7th, 2012
10:55 am

Ken, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT series of articles. And like others have said, this may have been the best one so far. THANK YOU !!!!!

William Casey

March 7th, 2012
10:57 am

I am with others here in my appreciation for Ken’s coverage of GT football. I can’t ever remember it being as thorough as it is now (I go back to 1960. Furman Bisher wrote magnificient pieces in-season but the off-season used to be a vast wasteland. THANKS! Ken, you’ve made it off the scout team! LOL

GT fan

March 7th, 2012
10:58 am

Broderick Snoddy at B-back was the surprise to me. Need a homerun hitter at b-back, and according his scouting report Snoddy’s definitely got the speed. Just not sure about his weight?


March 7th, 2012
10:58 am

super? this isn’t basketball. there is no flagarant in football. he wasn’t kicked out of the game but he could have been. anytime you punch/hit a player, it’s an automatic 15 yard penalty. the announcers covering the game said he’s lucky he wasn’t ejected. you’re confused and wrong.

FL Jacket

March 7th, 2012
11:00 am


Look at Snoddy’s HS tape, and he ran pretty solidly between the tackles. Track speed. I would imagine he could fill out to the 205-210 lb range (or slightly more) with the fulltime conditioning program.


March 7th, 2012
11:02 am

chas jacket,
I think you are thinking of Denzel McCoy who was also a 4* DL. He is on medical hardship for what I believe is a heart condition of some kind.

Supersize that order, mutt

March 7th, 2012
11:09 am

BGA, I KNOW it’s not basketball, and I didn’t use the word “flagrant” in that sense of the word. What I was attempting to convey was that there have been far worse fouls in football games that I have witnessed that got less attention than this one did. YES, he deserved the penalty; he swung at the guy. But it was nowhere as serious a foul as you are claiming. I’m not trying to justify anything, including him or his action. I am just saying that haters like you are making far more out of it than is necessary. You want to see a truly bad foul that got little attention from the refs at the time, and none by the coaches, take a look at Darwin Holt’s hit on Chick Granning in the 1961 Tech – Bama game. The Bear went to his death bed denying that his player at done anything bad. HA!!!! What Attaochu did was wrong and deserved the penalty, and NOBODY has denied it. But it pales in comparison to other incidents.

George Stein

March 7th, 2012
11:17 am

That’d be nice, FLJ. If he’s big enough, and better than the other players, put him in.

I thought Sims ran hard the whole season but it seemed that a lot of teams really ganged up to stop the dive. I also have a lot of hope for Charles Perkins. Maybe he can breakout this year, too.


March 7th, 2012
11:22 am

then why didn’t you use a different word instead? you admitted he deserved the penalty. that’s what he got. he didn’t get ejected. so what are you whining about? what did i claim? i said he smacked him in the helmet out of frustration? where am i going off being all serious about it?
now i am a hater. lol now you go back to a game 50 years ago??? that wasn’t on tv? get a life. i guess brad nessler who said woh that could lead to an ejection is a hater too.

5150 UOAD

March 7th, 2012
11:32 am

BGA you need to look at the REPLAY. It was not a Punch to the head in an attempt to hurt the QB. It Was a SWIPE and MISS more than anything. I hate that he did it because that played killed TECH.


March 7th, 2012
11:34 am

Meant to say jesse palmer. and he says it right here. so i guess he is a hater


March 7th, 2012
11:35 am

I’d love to see the state of Ken’s popularity if he asked Paul Johnson how he plans to reverse his poor record against UGA. I wonder if Techies would think he was such a wonderful reporter then? Even though its more than a reasonable question, it would be nothing but crying and moaning about how the AJC is pro-UGA and hates Tech.



March 7th, 2012
11:36 am

i’ve seen the replay a dozen times. i just posted a link here. a swipe? lol good grief you guys are hypocrites. if that was a uga player doing that in a game, you’d be saying how he was trying to knock his head off. again, i guess the announcers who saw the replay like you can here are just biased. what a bunch of excuse making losers some of you are.