Notes from coach Paul Johnson’s news conference Tuesday morning. He answered questions about the defense, Vad Lee and depth chart changes.
1. Johnson called playing Clemson at Death Valley “a huge challenge.” Also, he praised receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd and said running back Andre Ellington could be the best running back in the league.
2. Wide receiver Anthony Autry is at the top of the depth chart with Jeff Greene. Autry started the year as the No. 4 or 5 receiver on the depth chart, behind Greene, Jeremy Moore, Darren Waller and Chris Jackson, although Jackson was out four games because of an NCAA suspension regarding credit hours. Johnson said Autry earned the promotion through his effort and will start so long as he has a good week of practice.
“The most impressive thing to me about Anthony is, when he’s gone in there, he’s flown around, he’s played really hard,” Johnson said. “I don’t think he’s afraid of the moment.”
The rotation will be three or four players.
2. Johnson was asked about a comparison with last season, when Tech had lost two games before playing Clemson.
Johnson: “I think the parallel is they’re ranked again. They’ve got a good team. We had ’em at home last year, night game, our crowd was great, everybody was into it. They helped us. They turned the ball over some early, we kind of got some momentum going and just kind of hung on and built on that. Certainly, we’ll have to play better than we’ve played this year on Saturday if we’re going to have a chance to beat them.”
3. Johnson said he checks in more on the defense when it has played as it has. He said he mainly looks to see if the defense is being asked to do more than it’s capable of doing.
Johnson: “The last couple games, we haven’t done it very well but I don’t think we’ve asked them to do anything out of the ordinary. There have been some communication issues, but even having said that, the bottom line is we’ve got to tackle better. We’ve go got quit giving up the big plays. We’ve got to take better angles over there. You’ve got to do some of that stuff. Every time the ball breaks the line of scrimmage, it doesn’t have to be a touchdown.”
Johnson said there is a line to walk in having a hand in the defense and also letting coaches do their jobs, that he doesn’t want the coaches to feel as though they’re being handcuffed.
“My position has always been, give people the leeway to do what they need to do and I’ll evaluate it when it comes time to evaluate it,” Johnson said.
4. Johnson on if defensive coordinator Al Groh has made the in-game and between-game fixes that he expected when he was hired.
Johnson: “Well, at times. But I think like anything, I’m not going to sit here and try to defend how we’ve played the last couple weeks. It’d be stupid because we’ve played terrible, but I don’t think the man forgot everything he knew in the last two weeks. But ultimately, we’re responsible. We’ve got to get it on the field. It doesn’t matter what you know, it’s what happens. So we’ve got to do a better job of getting it on the field.”
5. Johnson said he talks with the team about leadership and accountability “all the time.” The first priority is doing your job, he said.
“You can be a rah-rah guy all you want,” he said. “If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to do, probably not a lot of people are listening.”
In talking about accountability, he brought up players watching the game from the sidelines, including scout-team players and redshirts.
Johnson: “There’s got to be some energy on that sideline. Just because you’re not playing doesn’t mean you stand over there like a corpse. It’s from everybody involved. Coaches, everybody. You’ve got be upbeat right now. We’re the only ones upbeat so you’ve got to be upbeat until you can do something to get everybody else back upbeat. We created the problem, so we’ve got to fix it.”
6. Johnson acknowledged that Synjyn Days is working full-time at A-back, but said he’s still the No. 3 quarterback. He said that he is trying to get more time for quarterback Vad Lee and that coaches are trying to bring him along “as fast as he can come.”
Saturday, Johnson said he stuck with Tevin Washington against Middle Tennessee State because it became apparent to him that the offense was going to have to maximize its scoring opportunities.
“I just felt like the way the game was going, Tevin gave us the best chance to try to win the game,” Johnson said. “So that’s why [Lee] didn’t play more. Most games, we’ll try to have a plan to get him in. As it warrants and as it progresses, he’ll play more and more.”
I’ll post more later, as well as practice notes. A request – let’s try and be a little better than posting under someone else’s handle. Come on.
In case you missed it…
Johnson: ‘You want fans that care’
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog