A rundown of Paul Johnson’s Tuesday news conference.
1. Johnson moved Will Jackson to right tackle. Ray Beno will start at left tackle, Omoregie Uzzi at right guard and Shaquille Mason at left. (Reigning offensive player of the week Jay Finch is still center.) That would create options for a tackle rotation with Bryan Chamberlain, Tyler Kidney and, when he returns from his ankle injury, Morgan Bailey. At guard, it’s unclear if Trey Braun would join a rotation with Uzzi and Mason.
“It’s kind of a situation where we’re working to get our five best guys there (on the field) and get some depth,” Johnson said.
Beno had started against Presbyterian at right tackle with Chamberlain at left, but Beno has played mostly on the left side. When Bailey returns, Jackson would slide back to guard.
2. Johnson on the 2011 loss to Virginia: “Our big problem is last year they ran flat over us. They rushed for 270 yards and kept the ball. We’re used to winning the time of possession pretty handily. They did a good job of holding onto the ball last year and staying on the field. That’ll be a challenge.”
Johnson called the Cavaliers probably the best offense Tech has faced to this point (which, granted, is basically saying that Virginia’s offense is better than Virginia Tech’s).
4. What Johnson took out of Penn State missing the four field goals was that Virginia’s defense kept forcing the Nittany Lions to kick rather than get into the end zone. He noted, too, Virginia’s four turnovers. While he said it’d be nice if the Cavaliers did that again, he said that “most of the time, you’re not going to follow that up with the same kind of deal.”
“They found a way to win as a team,” he said. “When you can do that without playing their best game – and I don’t think they did – that says something about their team.”
5. Johnson said that, in the Monday game video review, the offense “got taken to the woodshed on several things. I’ve challenged them. The ball was out. … They know we haven’t arrived.”
Regarding the four fumbles, I wonder if he concluded the session by saying that most of the time, you’re not going to follow that up with the same kind of deal.
6. He said that “on the perimeter, we’ve got some issues in a lot of places that we’ve got to get cleaned up,” namely missed assignments and insufficient blocking. The line’s blocking, as well, particular on the backside, was also not to his liking. Same for the B-backs.
“I’m not worried about the points,” he said. “When I turn on the film, I want to see it look right. I want to see you doing the right things.”
7. Johnson gave some praise to backup safety Coray Carlson, the former walk-on who has gotten some playing time in a sub package, for being ready to play when his opportunity arrived due to injuries.
“He’s been where he’s supposed to be, he knows where to go,” Johnson said. “He’s done well when he’s got in there.”
In the same response, Johnson said that Lynn Griffin showed promise early on in the preseason but is a likely redshirt after injuring his quadriceps muscle.
8. Johnson said he thought safety Fred Holton would be ready for the Virginia Tech game but said his foot injury has “kept lingering.”
“He’s dying to get out there,” he said, “but he’s just not physically capable of getting out there and protecting himself right now.”
9. Johnson said that defensive end Anthony Williams needs to play more, as does backup nose tackle Shawn Green. Izaan Cross, Euclid Cummings and Emmanuel Dieke get most of the snaps at defensive end. I remember Johnson said the same thing about cornerback Jemea Thomas early last season, and my colleague Matt Winkeljohn observed that he used similar language about Julian Burnett early in his career, too. (Burnett’s, not Matt’s. I’m not sure Burnett’s parents were even driving when Matt was early in his career.)
Coaches are also trying to get end Adam Gotsis ready to play, also. The decision to burn Gotsis’ redshirt was made because other linemen had injuries that they’re playing through. Given that the nature of the injuries could ultimately sideline them, coaches figured it would be best to have Gotsis ready.
10. Johnson said the level of competition Gotsis faced playing in Australia was similar to low-level college or high-level prep school. “It depends on what team they were playing,” he said. “He was on their national team. When they played (American) Samoa, it was pretty good.”
11. The B-back blocking needs improvement, although he recognizes that Zach Laskey is new to the position, made his first start Saturday and was so amped up that he forgot that he was on the punt team.
“The good news is they’re not afraid to block,” he said. “They’re not afraid to run up in there and do what they’ve got to do.[The key is] just kind of relaxing.”
Johnson said that backup Charles Perkins is fighting through some injuries and hinted that David Sims may not be ready to play Saturday. As for Laskey, he said that “he’s kind of like we thought in camp. I think he can be pretty good running the ball.”
12. The offensive line hasn’t played up to expectations.
“We did O.K.,” he said, “but we felt like that was going to be a strength. This (game) is going to be a big challenge for them this week because we got our butt handed to us up there a year ago inside the tackle boxes.”
13. Johnson said quarterback Tevin Washington is “throwing the ball pretty good the last two games.” As he said previously, his bigger concern is that Washington leaves the pocket too early.
“That’s something we’ve worked hard on,” he said. “That kind of thing is what we need to get better.”
I don’t know if he’s said this before, but he said, in his perfect world, Tech would throw 15 to 20 times per game and complete 14 or 15.
“And if we do that and we’re running the ball successfully, we’ll have some touchdown passes because we’ll hit some things,” he said. “There may very well be some chances this week where they really commit to the perimeter.”
Thanks for reading.
In case you missed it…
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog