More Paul Johnson from ACC Media Days

Lots of stuff from Paul Johnson’s group interview at ACC Media Days in Greensboro, N.C., that didn’t get into my story in Tuesday’s paper. Some of it you’ve probably read, some new stuff. Read on…

1. The biggest difference that special-teams coordinator David Walkosky has made thus far is in motivating players to want to be on special teams. Previously, Johnson said, many players played on special teams because they knew it was expected of them.

“I think there’s a renewed excitement,” he said. “Everybody’s looking forward to doing something a little different.”

(Wide receiver Darren Waller spoke with reporters Wednesday and mentioned the same thing, saying that because of his enthusiasm, intensity, various schemes and bag of gadget plays, players want to participate.)

That said, “The proof’s in the pudding. We’ll see when we start playing if we’re better.”

2. With one assistant (Mike Sewak) coaching the offensive line instead of two, graduate assistant Preston Pehrson will assist Sewak. Johnson said he hadn’t determined how coaches will be placed during games. Previously, Sewak was in the box and former line coach Todd Spencer was on the sidelines.

3. The topic of recruiting prospects early in high school was brought up. Johnson reiterated his preference that players could sign letters of intent at any point rather than signing periods.

“If somebody said they were coming, you put it in front of them and they sign it and it’d be over,” he said. “And if they didn’t sign it, they weren’t committed.”

4. On playing Virginia Tech in the first game of the season: “Certainly, it’s going to be a huge game; it has been for our division, but there’s a ton of football left after that game, so it’s not do-or-die.”

A point about both teams’ schedules: Tech’s Atlantic Coast opponents are Maryland, Boston College and Clemson. The Hokies get Florida State, Clemson and Boston College. I think if you took a poll of coaches about which team they’d rather face, I imagine Maryland Boston College would win fairly handily over Florida State.

4. Johnson said fall camp won’t be any different because of Virginia Tech. The first two weeks will be devoted to fundamentals and scout-team work will begin two weeks prior to the opener.

He gave his standard response to a question about Virginia Tech having extra time to prepare for the offense: “We get all of August to prepare for theirs, too. I’ve never worried about that. I’m sure they’ll have a good plan. Hopefully, we will, too.”

5. As he’s said in the past, Johnson sounded a little concerned about the short turnaround after Virginia Tech. With the Presbyterian game five days later, the Jackets won’t practice Tuesday and probably won’t do much Wednesday.

“By Thursday, we won’t be in pads,” he said. “We may play the next game without ever putting on pads.”

While Presbyterian doesn’t exactly inspire fear, “I remember the mighty Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, and we had to block a field goal (to win). I think Virginia Tech had a little taste of that, too, playing on Monday and then again on Saturday. It’s tough.”

6. With his first recruiting classes having become upperclassmen, “I think our guys just have a better overall feel for what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re to the point now where they all know what they signed up for. They all knew what we were doing when they came. It’s not somebody doing something that they necessarily didn’t want to do or whatever, and I think they’ve embraced it.”

7. The offensive line “could possibly be the best group we’ve had,” he said. “Now, you’ve still got to do it on the field, but we’ve got a lot of guys who have played a lot. … I think that they can play a lot better and I think they will this year.”

Johnson said he could see four guards getting rotated – Omoregie Uzzi, Will Jackson, Trey Braun and Shaquille Mason.

The depth was a topic he went back to repeatedly, bringing it up in regards to the running backs, defensive line and linebackers.

8. Johnson said that, with the absence of Julian Burnett, he sees leaders forming in each position group, naming cornerback Rod Sweeting, linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and defensive end Izaan Cross.

9. Starters at wide receiver have not been determined. The leading contenders are Jeff Greene, Chris Jackson, Jeremy Moore and Darren Waller, followed by incoming freshmen Anthony Autry, Travin Henry and Micheal Summers.

“My experience has been somebody will step up and we’ll find a go-to guy,” Johnson said. “We’ve always had one, so we’ll find one. We just don’t know who it’s going to be right now.”

He said that Waller has “unlimited ability. The kid is 6-6, 230, can run 4.5. He’s got ability. Now, potential – the big ‘P’ word. We’ll see can we get it to the field.”

10. Like most, if not all, coaches, Johnson said his preference is to play eight ACC games rather than nine, as the Georgia game locks Tech into 10 games and limits scheduling flexibility. He figures that it will probably mean more FCS opponents in the future to ensure home games. The ACC will start with nine games in 2013 when Pitt and Syracuse join.

It appears that, at least from 2013 through 2018, Tech will play five league home games in even years, so it will have a five-and-five split every year with ACC games and the Georgia game. That will leave the two non-conference games. One will be an FCS opponent and the other will most likely be either another FCS team or an FBS team from a non-power conference. Most schools want to get to seven home games, if not eight. If Tech wanted to play an SEC or Big Ten school, it would almost certainly require a home-and-home, which would produce seven home games one year and six the next. Even if Tech contracts a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 with a school like Middle Tennessee State, that would still leave Tech with six home games on occasion. Schools could still pay a team like MTSU for a home-only series, but the cost has become prohibitive.

“The 2-for-1’s and 3-for-1’s probably aren’t going to fly,” he said.

There’s a few reasons behind nine-game league schedule. First, ESPN and its sacks of cash want it. Second, I think administrators want it as it adds another marquee opponent to sell tickets for. Third, it’s more equitable. If the schedule remained at eight, teams would have to either give up their permanent crossover opponent or else play the other six teams in the opposite division once every six years.e

11. Asked for his thoughts about the preseason poll that picked Florida State to win the title: “I don’t know. They pick the same team to win the league every year, don’t they? All four years I’ve been here they have.”

(Not entirely true. FSU was picked to win the league in 2011, but Virginia Tech was the favorite in 2010 and 2009 and Clemson was the top choice in 2008. The Seminoles have been overwhelming favorites to win the Atlantic the past three years, and again this year. Regardless, FSU has made one title-game appearance – a loss to Virginia Tech in 2010 – in that span.)

More Johnson stuff coming Thursday. Tech sports information director and avid power lifter Dean Buchan lined up a slew of interviews Tuesday and Wednesday with players, so those will be coming out the chute in coming days. You can read about Quayshawn Nealy’s tuba skills, Jay Finch’s new nickname, Orwin Smith’s ambitious goal and Rod Sweeting’s kangaroo-like vertical. Plus more.

ADDITIONAL READING

Walkosky feature from March.

Tuesday story about Johnson from Media Days.

Blog about preseason poll.

Story on offensive line’s aspirations from July.

Game story from Tech vs. Gardner-Webb.

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

39 comments Add your comment

909

July 25th, 2012
2:36 pm

GT will crush VT in Blacksburg.

Mark it down…now !!

Spyro

July 25th, 2012
2:36 pm

40 days until TML!

jackets

July 25th, 2012
2:39 pm

Ken,
Point #4, I believe you mean Maryland over Florida State, as Clemson and Boston College are listed as common opponents.

jackets

July 25th, 2012
2:39 pm

Make that the first point #4, not the second

Ken Sugiura

July 25th, 2012
2:53 pm

thanks, you’re right. will change.

gbal

July 25th, 2012
3:44 pm

Boy the ACC media week really crankes out the press releases now doesnt it.

D

July 25th, 2012
3:45 pm

Florida State Picked as Preseason ACC Champ, Shocks Nobody As Much As Actual Championship Would

BLT

July 25th, 2012
5:03 pm

Release the “crankes”. LOL

Richard

July 25th, 2012
5:07 pm

Personally, I’d rather 11 ACC games and the UGA game if it meant getting rid of FCS opponents. Or at least announce to the fans: “hey, we don’t apologize for making you pay for this game against your former high school. Buy a coke while you’re at it.”

230gr Full Metal Jacket

July 25th, 2012
5:09 pm

It does seem that every year FSU gets picked to win the conference title, but they never do. VERY similar to the situation with UGA — always pre-season darlings but inevitably underachieve despite the boatloads of talent they have on their roster. But preseason polls mean less than nothing. If GT can shore up the defensive line and Tevin (or Vad) can connect on more than the occassional pass, some folks are going to be in for a shock this season. But right now nothing and no one matters except Virginia Tech! One game at a time guys!!!!

WnE

July 25th, 2012
5:15 pm

re:
10. Like most, if not all, coaches, Johnson said his preference is to play eight ACC games rather than nine, as the Georgia game locks Tech into 10 games and limits scheduling flexibility. He figures that it will probably mean more FCS opponents in the future to ensure home games. The ACC will start with nine games in 2013 when Pitt and Syracuse join.
________________

What is wrong with being locked into 10 LEGIT opponents, 9 ACC games + Muttville (with Dook being 1 of the 10)?

GT has never been very aggressive when it come to OOC scheduling since CPJ came to GT, having 2 games to play with rather than 3 isn’t a big difference when you use those OOC games to schedule Elon, W. Carolina & SC State.

The ACC is so desperate for National “respect” that they should go to 10 conference games for the sole purpose of inflating the League Members SoS, maybe that will help to offset the annual “end-of -season-losses” that we seem to have vs. our SEC rivals.

CPH doesn’t want to play top teams OOC, doesn’t want to play 9 Conference Games, maybe someone should tell CPJ at this level you can’t play a D1-AA schedule anymore.

While CPJ worked his so-called miracle at Navy, he routinely had SoSs ranked in the 100s, basically among the WEAKEST schedules in all of CFB.

If left up to CPJ’s scheduling standards, GT ’s schedule would be so weak that we’d have to give away tickets to get people in the games.

We’re already losing attendance as it is with each yr. that CPJ has been at GT, and we can’t blame that on the economy since we all know that GT has so many wealthy alums.

Don’t get mad at me; CPJ “tees it up” and makes these things easy for me!

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
5:30 pm

Tech 10-2.
This the the First TEAM I have seen in 5 years.
Look for special things to continue in the next 3 years.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
5:34 pm

WnE are you going to be at TECH on the 4th to run your Mouth to the COACHES and PAYERS?

Please Show UP
MAN UP
or SHUT the F UP.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come to the FAN DAY and run your chicken s&&% mouth.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
5:38 pm

#1 I talk to Z. Laskey and he wants to get the return job back.
Drummond, Thomas & Finch wrer IRON JACKETS this Summer.
I think this is the best TEAM GT has had in a few years. The Youngsters are HUNGRY for the field and ready to make an impact.

HighTech

July 25th, 2012
5:46 pm

Average home game attendance by year:

2008 – 47,489
2009 – 51,584
2010 – 46,449
2011 – 48,232

This is not a new theme for you.

http://firepauljohnson.blogspot.com/2011/01/attendance-woes.html

WnE

July 25th, 2012
5:53 pm

Sorry HT, but that guy is NOT me, that was determined a very long time ago.

WnE

July 25th, 2012
5:56 pm

Thanks HT for that attend. data!

2011 was inflated by Clemson & UGA.

If you look at the even yr. schedules we are trending down in even yrs. , and then if you look at the odd-yr. schedules we are trending down in odd-yrs. under CPJ.

Your post merely proved my point to be valid!

HighTech

July 25th, 2012
5:59 pm

Comparing two years does not make a trend. I will agree that a better OOC schedule will help attendance.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
6:07 pm

WnE…….Tech has a LOPSIDED schedule. VIP, Clemson & UGA as home games in the EVEN years is a Season ticket killer. One of those tams need to move to the ODD year with Miami as a home team and UNC.

BLT

July 25th, 2012
6:08 pm

Nothing is good enough for you WnE. Sad. I can’t wait for you to paint every Tech win in a negative light. It’ll really show everyone you are really a dog. Not a UGA fan as much as a real life human dog.
Can’t you just limit your post to the dog blog? It’s not hard to find!

WnE

July 25th, 2012
6:08 pm

re:
5150 UOAD
July 25th, 2012
5:38 pm

#1 I talk to Z. Laskey and he wants to get the return job back.
Drummond, Thomas & Finch wrer IRON JACKETS this Summer.
I think this is the best TEAM GT has had in a few years. The Youngsters are HUNGRY for the field and ready to make an impact.
______________

Actually it is one of the weakest GT teams in a long time, the only thing saving GT FB is this down, weak era of ACC CFB.

DL is weak, Safeties are weak, returning WRs are all potential at this point, no game experience of significance.

B-Back is weak, the returning B-Back starter only had 698yds last season playing the 71st toughest schedule in CFB.

One A-Back starter might be a walk-on meaning that CPJ missed on a lot of the 5-6 to 5-9 “pony backs” that he signed late in the recruiting process to fill out already weak Recruiting classes.

OL is solid as run-blockers, unproven to WEAK as pass-blockers should we ever get down 2 scores.

QBs are all WEAK PASSERS for a BCS Level team due to being poorly trained & poorly coached as college-level passers.

Not one QB on our Depth Chart can be “trusted” to run a 2-minute-offense should we NEED that at the end of the Half or the end of the Game.

No way is this one of the best GT teams in recent yrs., way too MANY QUESTION MARKS!

Simply count future NFLers on each side of the ball, and that will give you a good indicator of how many wins we’ll get.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
6:09 pm

Sorry that is backwards those teams are Home games in the ODD years and we need to move one to the Even years.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
6:19 pm

WnE………..please bring you butt to a game and run your mouth. You are a Chicken and HIDE behind your computer. PLEASE PLEASE come to a GAME and MEET the people you call fools. PLEASE meet us at the BUS. We will feed you and enjoy listening to your KNOWLEDGE. PLEASE PLEASE
MAN UP
SHOW UP
and
Make us feel so STUPID as you impart your vast College Football KNOWLEDGE.

HighTech

July 25th, 2012
6:20 pm

Credit to gtrower at StingTalk…

I’d break it down like this:

GREAT DEPTH (can absorb injuries without losing much):
DB – Sweeting, Young, Johnson, Holton, Thomas, Golden all with a lot of experience
OL – Uzzi, Jackson, Beno, Finch, Bailey, Mason, Braun, Kidney, McRae all ready to go

DECENT DEPTH (can absorb injuries as long as it’s not multiple key guys):
QB – Washington, Days/Lee, and Thomas make me pretty comfortable here.
AB – Smith, Godhigh, Hill, Bostic, Zenon all seem decently ready. Losing Smith would hurt.
BB – Sims, Perkins, Laskey are all experienced. I’d rather not lose Sims though.
DE – Cross, Cummings, Dieke make a good rotation. If we lose two it would be bad.
ILB – Drummond, Nealy, Hunt-Days are a solid top 3 with Harrell providing depth.

MEDIOCRE DEPTH (hopefully we don’t lose a starter):
WR – Jackson, Moore, Waller, Greene, Henry make us five deep, but none are proven yet.
OLB – Attaochu, Watts are studs. Menocal has some experience. After that we have ?’s

BAD DEPTH (please god no injuries):
NT – If Barnes goes down we’re f’d.

GT Lee

July 25th, 2012
6:37 pm

Gollum feeling frisky today. Must have “Precious” all shined up and ready to go. Just need to get that matching Lotto ticket, and he’s set for Labor Day.

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
6:44 pm

HT……….nice post…..
The guys I facebook with are really LOVING the TEAM. They all seem to think they are working for a GOAL. I think the weakness in some areas will be filed with some young guys that are HUNGRY for the field. They may no be ready but they want to PLAY.

reality

July 25th, 2012
6:59 pm

GT will have a breakout year. Toughest games Clemson and VT. 10-2 including a win over an over-rated Uga team. Go Jackets!!!

Supersize that order, mutt

July 25th, 2012
7:04 pm

@ WnE……I don’t think you ever saw my response to your post last night regarding the people in Africa. You pretty much misunderstood what I tried to say. Go back to that blog and read it, and a couple of posts that followed that one

Supersize that order, mutt

July 25th, 2012
7:06 pm

The game I worry most about is Clemson. Not saying we will win all the others, but that one scares me

5150 UOAD

July 25th, 2012
7:09 pm

Clem&sons is always FUN and Dangerous for both teams.
GT v Clemson has the flavor of UGa v Auburn.
It is always crazy.

Sven Ottke

July 25th, 2012
7:41 pm

You won’t find WnE in Atlanta this Fall supporting the Jackets. buLLdawg will be in Athens!

Dawg48

July 25th, 2012
9:48 pm

GT has released the new pro combat uniforms for next year. They look swag!
https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/1808863548/G278326.jpg

Ken Sugiura

July 25th, 2012
10:56 pm

i think pretty much every coach was in favor of eight conference games over nine.

BLT

July 25th, 2012
11:26 pm

LOL Dawg48!

Pedro for Prez!

Paul in NH

July 25th, 2012
11:30 pm

The SEC amd B1G coaches are the same as the ACC – want to stay with 8 conference games. You have to commend the coaches in the PAC 12 – not only do they play 9 conference games but they also play some tough OOC. ND, OK State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, LSU, Nebraska, Missouri and BYU are all on the schedule this year.

BLT

July 25th, 2012
11:32 pm

WnE is weak and it’s down year for him every year. Prozac may help.

William Casey

July 26th, 2012
12:11 am

@WnE: If you aren’t willing to put money behind your assertions, they are essentially worthless. Given your negative assessment of GT football, please list the points you are willing to give for each game and the amount you are willing to wager. Remember, your points should reflect your “expert” assessment of GT’s weaknesses. Otherwise, do us all a favor and STFU.

1 4 GT

July 26th, 2012
12:37 am

I don’t how gollum’s psyche can handle being bombarded with so much negativity. I really am beginning to feel to feel sorry for him. Having such a negative outlook about something he professes love for has be very stressful. Comparing gollum to the rest of the GT fans/supporters on the blog is as different as night & day. Those of us that are true GT guys are at worst guardedly hopeful. Then you have guys like me who are so happy that the season is close, we are almost giddy & overflowing with optimism & can hardly wait for Kick Off. Do we want GT to succeed? You bet! Do we get down if they don’t? You bet! Do we express our dissatisfaction? You bet! But come the next game, we are still 100% behind the team. Why? Because that’s what real,true fans do! Try it gollum! You might make some friends! You might even amaze yourself! All this negativity has to weigh you down.

www

July 26th, 2012
3:11 pm

it it certainly SEEMS like pundits have been proclaiming FSU was back and a favorite to win the ACC for the past 4 years.

ken, have you been able to talk to julian burnett? would love to know how the guy is doing after the injury and what his plans are for the future. also, is there any chance he rehabs for a year and comes back in 2013? either way, the guy was a beast in the middle and will be missed.