Updated Paul Johnson Q&A: Tech capable of winning ACC

On the day before his team will report for the start of fall camp, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson was in his newly renovated office, showing off his “smart glass” windows that look onto Bobby Dodd Stadium. At the flip of a switch, the panes transform from clear to tinted.

“Recruits like it,” Johnson said. “They think it’s pretty cool.”

Johnson also addressed more substantive topics Wednesday in an interview with the AJC, including his prospects for various players, the team’s work over the summer and his hopes for the season. Questions and answers were edited for brevity and clarity.

Q: Are you more optimistic about this team than years past?

A: I’m always optimistic. I think that this is a good group. They seem to have worked really hard in the offseason. They’ve got a good attitude. We’ve got a big challenge early, but I think we’ve got a good nucleus of guys that we’ve played and they’re providing pretty good leadership and (I’m) really excited about some of the young guys. I think we’ve got some real athletic kids.

Q: Is there any reason to think this team isn’t capable of winning the ACC?

A: No. I think we’re capable of doing that. We were close last year.

Q: What will be the biggest challenges between now and the start of the season?

A: The big thing is just getting good quality work and trying to keep everybody healthy. You want to find that happy medium where you get game ready and you do those things but you don’t want to lose a bunch of people in practice. That’s always a challenge.

Q: Do you expect B-back Charles Perkins to make more of a run at the starting spot than last season?

A: Well, it’ll be interesting to see. I thought he would probably make more of a run maybe in the spring. But he’s very capable. He’s got ability and he’s just got to be consistent and do some of those things. There’s probably not a huge drop-off probably between him and David (Sims) right now.

Q: You mentioned at ACC Media Days that you could see quarterback Vad Lee playing this year. What are your plans for him?

A: I don’t have any particular plans to use him in any certain way right now. I’m just saying that, depending on what happens in fall camp, he could be the backup. I’ve never had a season where the backup quarterback didn’t play, especially if (quarterback) Synjyn (Days) ends up playing some other spots.

Q: What’s the timeline for deciding on moving Days? You had said that if he doesn’t beat out Tevin Washington in the first two weeks of fall camp, “I don’t want him standing over there in a baseball cap.”

A: It’s not two weeks. Synjyn’s going to take reps at quarterback probably every day in practice, but if he’s not playing quarterback, then we’ve got to get him some reps at some other positions and see if we can get him on the field.

Q: Do you feel like wide receiver Darren Waller is close to figuring things out?

A: I think he’s like a lot of young guys. He just has to mature. Physically, he’s got all the tools.

Q: You had also talked about highlighting A-back Orwin Smith.

A: I just said that there’s situations where he’s been good with the ball. If it’s even up, we’ll try to get him the ball more. That’s about it. He’ll determine how much he gets the ball by how much he plays.

Q: Are there ways to do that in an option offense?

A: There’s all kinds of ways. You can throw it to him, you can hand it to him. There’s all kinds of ways you can give it to him. It’s like I’ve told people before. ‘Well, why wouldn’t you give it to him if he’s averaging 10 yards a carry?’ Well, if we just handed it to him, he wouldn’t be averaging 10 yards a carry. You’ve got to get it in the right spot.

Q: What kind of progress do you expect the defense to make?

A: I don’t know. I think like everybody needs to play better if we’re going to be successful. We need to be better on third down. There’s no big secret there. I think at times we played well last year. In the latter half of the year, we gave up a lot of points.

Q: How much of a burden is on nose tackle T.J. Barnes to produce?

A: I don’t think any more than anybody else. You hear fans say that and the media and this, that and the other, but it’s just a position like anything else. If you go back and look, the production we’ve had from there has not been like we’ve had a ton of production. The system doesn’t really warrant itself to that. He’s just got to be solid. He’s worked awfully hard. So I’m hoping he’ll have his best year.

Q: Did anything happen with recruiting Penn State players?

A: Not really. We didn’t get into it a whole lot. There was a kid from Atlanta, I think a defensive end (C.J. Olaniyan, who moved to Michigan), that we talked to his high school coach. That was one kid and we didn’t pursue it (further) and he didn’t either. That was about it.

Q: What concerns do you have about replacing Julian Burnett, not just his play but his leadership?

A: I think anytime you lose a player of his caliber, it’s a blow to the team, and he was a leader on the team. Not only was he a good football player but he was a leader. So, yeah, it’s a big loss.

Q: Have you been watching the Olympics?
A: Occasionally I’ll flip it on, but I haven’t seen a whole lot. I watched the gymnastics thing last night with my daughter. My daughter told me who won. It was a little anti-climactic.

(This is the print version. I’ll add the rest Thursday morning.)

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

255 comments Add your comment

NCJacket

August 1st, 2012
3:24 pm

lol at the smart glass comment

ACC Champs!

August 1st, 2012
3:34 pm

Looking for a great year from the Jackets!

I like the idea of Days moving to another position. You want the best players on the field and he is a very good player but probably not the best QB right now.

Mark

August 1st, 2012
3:36 pm

yeller bug

August 1st, 2012
3:37 pm

Yep we’re capable of winning the ACC this year. We have enough talent and getting a “W” in our first game will go a long way toward a coastal division championship. No comments on our “D”, but maybe tht is forthcoming from Ken in a later addition.

GO Jackets!

yeller bug

August 1st, 2012
3:40 pm

I think our opening offensive series should be out of the pistol formation with no huddle. Be BOLD and unpredictable.

Robert Barron

August 1st, 2012
3:42 pm

Season ticket holder very much looking forward to the season.
I was commiserating with an Uga fan over the lack of respect 1st string QBs get.
He said the 2nd string QB is often the most popular player among fans, especially after a loss.
Too bad Tech & Uga fans can’t relate on these blogs the way we do.
We occasionally might rub something in but not to the extent of trying to aggravate the heck out of folks like goes on daily on both blogs.

Optimistic

August 1st, 2012
3:43 pm

What coach worth a darn wouldn’t think his team was capable of winning the conference. With that being said, CPJ and CAG have recruited the players who are capable of winning the conference. In my opinion it comes down to, 1) staying healthy, especially on defense, 2) the passing game, does GT find a go-to receiver who can catch the ball & will TW find the receiver and throw a ball that is catchable, 3) the defensive, will have to make stops and get the offense back on the field. As I said in a previous post, it’s Perkins year. He has the potential, now is the time he realizes it and puts forth the effort. I am expecting an AWESOME year for the Jackets.

Paddy

August 1st, 2012
4:06 pm

Optimistic………..CPJ seems to place a great deal of emphasis on how his offensive players practice. The ones that can block are sure to get playing time. Perkins never seems to be on the correct side of CPJ. Could it be his effort in practice holding him back? Not a Tech fan but I do like to watch CPJ teams play, you just never know what is about to happen out there

Techno-le

August 1st, 2012
4:14 pm

Is that 1st Presbyterian or 2nd Pres on your schedule?

RAMBLE ON!!!

August 1st, 2012
4:16 pm

Sept. 3rd can’t get here soon enough. Never been to VT, but I’ll be there on the 3rd. Anybody know of any good restaurants up there?

Optimistic

August 1st, 2012
4:16 pm

Paddy, I agree Perkins evidently by his playing time doesn’t play/do well in practice. And, I’m like you, I love “option” football. Back in the day with Barry Switzer and Oklahoma, even though I’m was not an Oklahoma fan, on any given play they could take it to the “bank”. GT plays similar on offense, but their defenses don’t match up to Oklahoma of old defenses. GT needs 3 Selmon like brothers!!!

Jacket Fan

August 1st, 2012
4:19 pm

More questions for Coach Johnson –

What’s the word on J.C. Lanier, Morgan Bailey?
S. Green – can they get some more weight on him?
J. Kitchen – has he put on some weight? Can he back up Barnes?
Marcordes, Cheeks, Harrell – what’s the word on these back-up LBs?

Thank you.

Chuck Allison

August 1st, 2012
4:25 pm

NCJacket, thanks for posting an intelligent comment and not just saying, “First”.

collegeballfan

August 1st, 2012
4:27 pm

Ken,

What is the word on a pre-practice depth chart?

macrotech

August 1st, 2012
4:34 pm

I am SO pumped about this season! I LOVE that we’re starting it off with VPI….they’ll give us a true measure of how prepared we are right off the bat. I agree with CPJ when he said that our season won’t be over IF we lose that game, but it’ll tell us a LOT about our team. Last season, it took us six games before we knew what we had. Many challenges await this team and I’m of the mind that we SHOULD be able to win lot of games this year! GO TECH!!!

ONCE AGAIN...

August 1st, 2012
4:43 pm

VT F___ks Sheep

yeller bug

August 1st, 2012
4:45 pm

There is only one Presbyterian so it must be First. Sorta like 1st Buffalo or 1st FL Atlantic

michael

August 1st, 2012
4:47 pm

DEFENSE…DEFENSE…DEFENSE !!!!

JM

August 1st, 2012
4:50 pm

Hope is eternal.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
4:53 pm

LOL @ yeller bug

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
4:55 pm

@ Robert Barron…….there are actually a few good UGA fans who make intelligent and classy posts on these blogs, sort of like the friends you have (as do I) with whom you can have a good discussion. But then there are the dwag trolls who not only tick us off, they really embarrass their school.

Paddy

August 1st, 2012
4:55 pm

yeller bug…….now that was funny, don’t care who you are, but that was funny!

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
4:59 pm

Don’t know how many of y’all are aware of this but former Tech track star Angelo Taylor is captain of the US Olympics track team. It was announced last week, but I just heard about it today

http://www.ramblinwreck.com/sports/m-track/spec-rel/072512aaa.html

909

August 1st, 2012
5:00 pm

Going to shock a lot of folks when GT runs VT into the ground on Sept 1st.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
5:01 pm

We could win by one point, and I’ll be happy

Paddy

August 1st, 2012
5:02 pm

Ramble On…….you won’t need to eat. Just soak up the beautiful surroundings.

DesignerJacket

August 1st, 2012
5:06 pm

If we beat VT it’s got to happen in the lines. Their DL is really good, and while their OL is technically rebuilding it’s actually plugging in bigger, more talented players. This game is going to be about our defense forcing at least two more three-and-outs or otherwise getting some INT’s. Our offense can move the ball and get points, but our defense has GOT to prevent Logan Thomas from keeping up. I’m not as optimistic as many of the other GT fans looking ahead to Sept. 3rd.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
5:08 pm

I think even just a marginal improvement in our D over last year, and we win. I think the D will be more than marginally better than last year

TechFanForever

August 1st, 2012
5:09 pm

Love it, Ken. Keep bringing the news everyday!

How about Kallon? Thomas? Please don’t redshirt Kallon. He is big enough and we need his speed rushes to disrupt timing for a good secondary to pick off passes.

GO Jackets!

DesignerJacket

August 1st, 2012
5:11 pm

Supersize, I cautiously agree with you IF we can also get a passing threat (maybe say Tevin’s efficiency rises to around 60%) to mess with their secondary’s decision making.

BigTimeTECHFan

August 1st, 2012
5:23 pm

DEFENSE ..
DEFENSE..

1 4 GT

August 1st, 2012
5:27 pm

Heck, everybody keeps saying TW needs to be around 60% in passing. I”ll gladly take 50-55%. That would be quite good enough to keep their defense honest and open the run game. From all that has been reported here over the summer, he is capable of that. I think over 55% would be icing on the cake. GOOOOO JACKETS

BLT

August 1st, 2012
5:30 pm

“ONCE AGAIN…”

That would be hard to do given a “Hokie” is an emasculated Turkey. I’m just pointing it out. Don’t get made at the messenger.

Go Jacket!

BLT

August 1st, 2012
5:30 pm

MAD…damn it

Gorilla Biscuit

August 1st, 2012
5:42 pm

Brad

August 1st, 2012
5:49 pm

It took Logan Thomas’ best game and David Wilson going all “superman” on us, plus Sneezy losing his cool for a minute, for them to beat us last year. Now we bring pretty much everyone back, and they lose virtually their entire offense minus Logan. I’m feeling pretty good about this one!

1 4 GT

August 1st, 2012
5:59 pm

LOL @ SNEEZY!! That’s good. Doubt he would like it much though.

GSUStud

August 1st, 2012
6:02 pm

This made my day. I have not had a good laugh in a long time. Whenever I hear Ga Tech talking about the ACC and having a good football team, I again feel so sorry for their delusional fans. I see Ga Tech winning maybe 6 games this year, but certainly not enough to talk about winning any division. Your current coach will always field an average (for the ACC) team at best.

Big Crimson 75

August 1st, 2012
6:05 pm

I’m with Coach Johnson, the ACC is Techs to win!!
Beat VT and its clear sailing.
All you gotta do after that is beat 2 guys named Jimbo & Dabo!!

BLT

August 1st, 2012
6:14 pm

GSUStud

“This made my day. I have not had a good laugh in a long time.”

You mean you don’t laugh every time you take a wiz? Use a magnifying glass next time and you might see it.

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
6:16 pm

It’s obvious why GSUTurd is a GSU fan—-he is mentally challenged, and he shows it in every post he makes. A mind is such a terrible thing to waste :(

BLT

August 1st, 2012
6:16 pm

BC 75, we don’t play FSU in the regular season. We might in the CCG.

BLT

August 1st, 2012
6:17 pm

Who said anything about a “mind” Super?

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
6:18 pm

@ GSUTurd……Put your money where your mouth is. I will bet you $10,000.00 that Tech wins more than 6 games this year. Are you man enough to take that bet?

Supersize that order, mutt

August 1st, 2012
6:20 pm

@ BLT……I gave him credit for having some kind of matter in his cranial cavity.

BLT

August 1st, 2012
6:20 pm

“Your current coach will always field an average (for the ACC) team at best.”

And with the exception of a few memorable games, your current coach ran our program into the ground. Unless, of course you are a Southern fan which means you engage in self loathing. Pitiful…

Clyde

August 1st, 2012
6:22 pm

GSUStud, are you paid to post on these blogs? Reading down through the comments I’m seeing pleasant comments, some with some thought, and then you pop in. Your comment has absolutely no use at all except to start an argument. You are a fan of a local college that has absolutely no clout on the national level.

Atlanta Dawg

August 1st, 2012
6:25 pm

Paul has to be admired for bringing the Jackets back and being competitive. There is very good talent there also. Several years ago the Tech/GA game was just a yawn. Nice to have a shot of either team winning. I grew up at Tech games then saw the light and went to Athens. The competition and bragging rights remain fun even today. :-)

Big Crimson 75

August 1st, 2012
6:26 pm

No FSU — even better for Tech.
Btw, in case any of y’all didn’t catch it this morning, Stephen Hill is looking solid for the Jets. He could end up their top WR this yr!!
Plax is gone, santonio is over rated(he ruined my fantasy team last yr), so Hill has a great chance to show his stuff in the Apple!!
Of course, good luck catching a glimpse of Hill on the tube when all Espn and the nfl network wanna show on their live look-ins on Jets camp is their Coach & back up QB!!

GT = 10 time loser to Mark Richt

August 1st, 2012
6:37 pm

Of course Tech could win the ACC this year. The ACC sucks. FSU will find a way to blow it like they always do.