Paul Johnson: “We’re not really good at anything right now”

There’s a reason Georgia Tech fans love Paul Johnson. Actually, there are two, and the second one is a no-brainer: He beat Georgia. But Tech fans loved PJ long before that rainy day in Athens, and they love him because he says what every single fan wishes his/her coach would say.

He doesn’t sugarcoat. Except for the boilerplate assertion that his stylized offense is never as bad as it might look, he doesn’t seek to cover his assets. (And you can almost excuse that excess, seeing as how he invented the offense.) When his team stinks, he doesn’t remind you of his career record or of what might have happened four years ago. He says, “We stunk.” Only he says it in richer detail.

Like this: “Miami is an outstanding football team, but it wouldn’t have had to be the way we played.”

Also:  “The way we played, the way we coached, it was a group effort.”

And: “We’re not really good at anything right now.”

These are snippets from Johnson’s Tuesday press briefing, which was as blunt as any coach’s Tuesday press briefing ever gets. Of an illegal block that wiped out a Tech touchdown in Miami, Johnson said: “It was very poor technique. I don’t know what the guy was doing, really.”

Of Tech’s false starts: “If you can’t go on the snap count — the other team doesn’t have anything to do with that. That’s you.”

Of Tech’s defensive collapse: “We had too much in. Anytime you can’t do what you’re supposed to be doing, you’ve got too much in.”

Of coordinator’s Dave Wommack’s assertion that his defenders will switch to a 4-5-2 alignment for Saturday’s game against North Carolina: “We could play a 4-12-9, but it won’t matter what we play if we don’t get our face on somebody and our eyes where they should be.”

Some among you might call this empty bluster. I’d call it the sort of candor rarely seen in an industry in which head coaches make millions and assistants hundreds of thousands.

Some also might say Johnson is being too hard on his players. I would not. For one thing, he stops short of naming names. For another, he knows those players are all he has: “It’s like having a kid. It’s OK for me to say he’s bad, but I get mad if someone else says it.”

Then this: “You set the bar where you want it, and you don’t give in until you get there. You can’t run from expectations.”

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For the record, he didn’t feel his offense, at least schematically, was the culprit in Miami. “I probably shouldn’t get into this,” he said. Then, one beat later: “But let me. Go back to our Clemson game, where we played [according to some] so poorly on offense. Did you see what Clemson just did [against Boston College]? Fifty-four yards and four first downs [allowed]. Let’s give Clemson a little credit. Four hundred twelve yards [Tech's yield was 418, actually] doesn’t look so bad compared to that.

“On the first series against Miami we had two missed assignments and kicked a field goal. On the next series — or it may have been the third [it was] — we had a touchdown called back and missed a field goal … If you only have 50 plays in a game [Tech had 54], you’re not going to get 500 yards. [Tech had 228.] Can we get better? You bet. But that’s the least of my worries right now.”

And that’s the other part of a Paul Johnson briefing. You never come away thinking he’s all that worried. You come away thinking he figures he’ll figure it out. He probably will.

247 comments Add your comment

leland

September 22nd, 2009
2:50 pm

Dear Mr. MB–holding my breath. Your pal, Leland

leland

September 22nd, 2009
2:54 pm

Mark Bradley

September 22nd, 2009
2:56 pm

Kudos, Leland.

GT Que

September 22nd, 2009
3:03 pm

Hear come the ignorant UGA fans talking about CPJ being too negative (when in reality, IF St. Richt and Willie did the same, UGA could be an actual contender)

…5,4,3,2,1

GT Brill

September 22nd, 2009
3:03 pm

I have no idea what to expect anymore I really don’t. With Wammock and Martinez, take the over in the UGA/GT game this November.

GT Que

September 22nd, 2009
3:03 pm

bluecole

September 22nd, 2009
3:04 pm

One thing most (opposing) fans forget: CPJ’s been doing this 26 years. Or more. You think he hasn’t been in the position before? You don’t think he’s recovered from this before?

Granted, we do have some large questions to answer. Defense? 10 yard cushions on WR’s? NOTHING on the dive?

But here’s one fact you cannot escape. We have CPJ, and you don’t.
I’ll trust his record, and his results, with this offense.

B.

sharecropper

September 22nd, 2009
3:05 pm

Yep, you do have to admire that. I think it would be wonderful juxtaposition to put Lou Holtz and Paul Johnson side by side.

willwc

September 22nd, 2009
3:05 pm

It’s one thing to acknowledge the problems, it’s another entirely to fix them. I think it’s a lot more important to see how PJ handles this week in practice and how the team looks against UNC Saturday before we heap too much hero worship on him…

BugKiller

September 22nd, 2009
3:06 pm

This is a difference between a man who refuses to proffer excuses for his coaches or players (Paul Johnson) and a man who does nothing but offer them on behalf of his coaches while blaming his players (Mark Richt).

We know Richt is from Florida, so I guess we should start calling him Sunshine Mark. I love our coach to death, because he’s been great for us, but his refusal to deal with truth and facts, especially as it pertains to the coaches on his staff, will be his downfall.

I have to give it to Bugland. They have an outstanding coach who accepts excuses from no quarter.

Hey Dogtards

September 22nd, 2009
3:06 pm

Great article Mark.

Go GT

September 22nd, 2009
3:06 pm

I’m proud to have a coach that is so straight to the point. And I do believe PJ’s team will respond this weekend. Go Jackets

Big ED

September 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

I’m looking forward to the game on Saturday. I know CPJ will figure this thing out and we will be fine. I am more worried about the defense than the offense.

misterwax

September 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

just don’t go for it on 4th and long in your own field like you did last year and for God’s sake, hold on to the ball…then you will win!

Hey Dogtards

September 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

PS GO JACKETS!!

Jack G.

September 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

Personally I lost all respect for CPJ when he called his player stupid on national TV.
He may be stupid, but if you are his coach you dont tell everyone watching on the telly. Do it in private.

AlabamaRamblinwreck

September 22nd, 2009
3:07 pm

Thanks, Mark, for seeing CPJ for what he is: a common sense country boy who just happens to be a ball coach. Some people are fortunate enough to be in the profession they were meant to be in, and CPJ is one of those fortunate few. He has forgotten more about how to play this game than most of us will ever know to begin with. I am willing to give him as much time as he needs, because I believe in what he is doing. It may not be this year, and it may not be next year, but GT is headed for a special era in football if we can keep CPJ in Atlanta coaching on the flats.

Go Jackets!!

Paddy

September 22nd, 2009
3:08 pm

Love the honest approach. Must be a sports reporters dream to finally talk to a coach that talks like a real human being instead of a wind-up toy. Love this guy..

Jack G.

September 22nd, 2009
3:10 pm

And I still dont like his triple option, wishbone or whatever name you want to call it. And he didnt invent it he learned it from his high school coach in a small crossroad town in NC. He never played college ball.

GT-EE-93

September 22nd, 2009
3:11 pm

Mark,

I agree w/ you about Johnson. He’ll get it right, sooner or later.

Please. QUIT PICKING ON WILLIE!

I like that guy!

Mark Bradley

September 22nd, 2009
3:11 pm

A Paul Johnson press conference is a bit different, Paddy. I have to stop myself from laughing — and sometimes I don’t quite stop myself — at how forthright he is.

GT Brill

September 22nd, 2009
3:13 pm

“Go GT”, I hope you are right. I’m still a big CPJ fan, worried he doesn’t care about defense enough, though.
Another “Sybil” team is FSU. They damn near lose to Jax State, then come back and humiliate the Latter Day Saints on the road. What is going on around here ?!?!?

GT FAN PA

September 22nd, 2009
3:14 pm

I will go with CPJ based upon his track record he has been a winner everywhere he has been. Bottom line Tech is 2-1 with a tuff strech coming up-right the ship and we should be ok. As long as the Jackets don’t get the ego and look at it as CPJ is picking on me I think they will be fine. The Tar Heels will be a good challenge as they have struggled as well. It is true you can say what you want about your family….but no one else better—same could be said about the sports family as well-look at the blogs- Jackets can say what they want about themselves but don’t let the UGA start and vice versa.

Executive Stinger

September 22nd, 2009
3:14 pm

I have never seen a coach so focused and understanding of what REALLY went wrong than CPJ. His press briefings and post-game comments make more sense to me than any coach I’ve seen or heard. He can tear down the typical fan’s notions so easily and point out what REALLY happened. I have learned so much wisdom just by reading and hearing his comments about this team. When he breaks it down to the fans and media, it always makes sense to me, and I do believe he’ll turn things around quickly because he knows what to focus on instead of stupidly responding to the unmerited rants and raves from the fans and media. A phrase that will define his career at Tech will be “I told you so”. He’ll likely never say it directly, but he KNOWS what he is doing will work. He knows he can correct the problems we have and we’ll have in the future. He knows how to make a team a winner, and he’ll do what it takes and disregard what others say. This will give him success in the ACC, nationally, and in Athens.

Kudos, Paul.

Ryno

September 22nd, 2009
3:17 pm

Coach Paul Johnson: “We’re not really good at anything right now”

Georgia Tech WR’s: “ESPECIALLY PASSING THE FOOTBALL”

Executive Stinger

September 22nd, 2009
3:20 pm

Jack….

You think CPJ thought that would end up on TV? He didn’t say into a microphone for all to hear! And if stupid is the worst thing you’ve ever heard a coach call a player, you’ve probably been around football for about 2 days of your life. Whether watching practice, a game in person, or a game on TV, you can hear much, much worse things said.

He did invent HIS offense, by the way. It’s called a variation, and there are numerous variations of the wishbone-based spread. More than you probably ever wanted to know about. Perhaps you’d like to come up with one yourself since you don’t like his. You wouldn’t be the first one. But your preferred offense is probably run by Mikey and Marky up in Athens, eh?

sharecropper

September 22nd, 2009
3:20 pm

Yep, you do have to admire that. I think it would be wonderful juxtaposition to put Lou Holtz and Paul Johnson side by side. I do have one question, though: what he did he mean by saying “we had to much in”? huh?

GT FAN PA

September 22nd, 2009
3:20 pm

@ JACK G- go back and listen—CPJ said “ARE YOU STUPID?” NOT You’re Stupid! And anyone that has ever played any competitive sport I’m sure had the coach or heard a coach come down on them hard. It’s about correcting mistakes and these are men now not little 12 year olds.

TDone

September 22nd, 2009
3:25 pm

To Mr. Jack G., what planet are you on? Apparently you have never played football on a varsity level. If you had, you would know that most coaches call players something worse than stupid. I believe Coach Johnson’s statement was, “Are you that stupid?” And guess what, it was stupid what the player did because it could cost us a chance at a two-point conversion. That’s mild and the only reason you know about it is that the on-field microphone picked it up. Man, clutch the pearls!!! That is mild compared to what is said by coaches.

As for the triple option, Coach Johnson has had more success running his offense on teh collegiate level than you have had running yours on the collegiate level. Oops, you mean you haven’t? My bad.

Go Jackets!!!

GT-EE-93

September 22nd, 2009
3:28 pm

jACK g:

Poker on TNT most nights.

GT Que

September 22nd, 2009
3:30 pm

Jack G.

You’ve obviously never been near Nick Saban, Charlie Weiss, or Mike Krzyzewski during a game

Buzz Belle

September 22nd, 2009
3:34 pm

Thank you Mark! I am hoping this will be the catalyst that will turn this team back around. I was out of town for the game but the little I saw of it in the airport during a layover was not pretty. We have not played one game this year a full 4 quarters. We can and will do better. At the end of the day, win or lose, we are Ga Tech, and that’s better than being UGA! I still want to win though! GO JACKETS and THWG.

Blackberry Cobbler

September 22nd, 2009
3:39 pm

I’m not a Tech fan and not a PJ fan…………………….

but I like the way his doesn’t try to sugar-coat things and make up lousy excuses for his teams performance.

CMR could take a few lessons from him. Rather than lay the blame where it should be (on WM and the defense) he tries to blow smoke up our rear ends by blaming field position, fumbles, etc. etc. etc.

PJ, I’m betting, will get in some peoples faces and the corrections will be made. CRM is too much of a girlie man to do this.

4 jacks

September 22nd, 2009
3:40 pm

Paul Johnson didn’t call his player stupid. He asked the player “are you that stupid”. The player needs to decide. There is a difference in being stupid and/or acting stupid, or doing something stupid. You people must be under 30 and from the politically correct society we now wallow in. You should have had my high school coach. No, you would have gone home crying to your momma and would have quit because you couldn’t handle it. We have a very good coach, and in 2 or 3 years when we are always competing for the conference championship, I hope you guys that “lost” all respect for CPJ will also lose your way to Grant Field and Bobby Dodd stadium. You are “girls” (P)….hope you get my drift.

Techjock

September 22nd, 2009
3:41 pm

Having too much in – means the defensive game plan was too complicated, too many coverages, disguise, line games, blitz’s.

Our O-line, D-line are so bad. If it were not for the option we would be 1 and 2.

Players are called a lot worse than stupid on a regualr basis. If you do not want to be called stupid on national tv then dont do anything stupid on national tv

We will see what we are made on Sat, NC has a great defense

Tech fans, you better love the option, its the great equilizer…

Herschel Walker

September 22nd, 2009
3:43 pm

Jack G: Paul Johnson didn’t learn his offense in high school. He installed it when Erk Russell asked him to at Georgia Southern because they noted how hard the old wishbone attack was to stop.

And, oh yeah, I still can’t read.

Furman Bisher

September 22nd, 2009
3:43 pm

Paul Johnson is the greatest coach alive today.

Now get the hell off of my lawn.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 22nd, 2009
3:44 pm

It’s nice to hear a coach come out and tell the truth now and then.

PTC Dawg Fan

September 22nd, 2009
3:44 pm

Enter your comments here Techies,the gimmic is over,the mask is off the whole country saw your problems exposed. QB cannot play dead. After JDwyer no other back legit. D Line average at best. ACC very week and you guys are right in the middle.Thats okay Techies, average is all you will ever be.

GA Tech Insider

September 22nd, 2009
3:45 pm

Jack G.;

I have to agree that sometimes Paul Johnson seems to get riled with his players on game day – not appearing as cool as Bobby Dodd did when he roamed our sidelines, but times have changed and his way of getting his point across and motivating players is just different than we may be used to since Bobby Ross (and George O’Leary).

Personally, I like the competitive spirit of Paul Johnson and the fact that he holds everyone, including himself and his coaching staff, accountable, and he’s striving to maintain the same level of excellence at GA Tech character-wise, and academically, that it has been known for through the years.

Paul has embraced all that is GA Tech rather than shied away, and isn’t afraid of competing for titles. If he didn’t know the Yellow Jackets could be successful, I can assure you, he wouldn’t be on our campus, and I can assure you that he wouldn’t be as angry as he is when the team doesn’t execute the way he knows they can. Paul Johnson is a winner, and he’s going to make GA Tech a winner.

Paul’s a good old country boy, like me, and sometimes we get a little riled but the good thing about him is that he’s honest – no tap dancing with Paul Johnson; he’s more of a clogger. He’ll stomp his way through the questions rather than tip toe because that’s the way he is – open and honest. He’s a breath of fresh air, just like the mountains of North Carolina where he came from.

So, Jack G., calm down a bit and try to understand that Paul isn’t a bad man or a bad coach; he’s just someone who was raised to be open and honest, and is as competitive a man as you’ll ever meet. He gets upset when guys make dumb mistakes, and they get over it together with a laugh in the locker room after the game – you don’t get to see that side of him.

This is not meant as an insult to any other coach, but as an endorsement of Paul Johnson; for me personally, I would rather have someone roaming our sideline with the vim and vinegar of Paul Johnson over someone who seems to be ready to go home and read the newspaper any day of the week.

Buzz Belle

September 22nd, 2009
3:45 pm

Careful 4 Jacks! I’m a girl! However, there is worse language than that in high school. This is football – college football. These are not kids! My son was in Iraq with a rifle and grenades at 18 – if you guys think asking someone if they are that stupid is bad, you really shouldn’t play, watch or discuss football. Did you guys even hear what Tenuta was saying on the field a few years ago?

Burdell

September 22nd, 2009
3:47 pm

Jack G.- What credible individual not from Great Britain or Australia uses the term “telly”? I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you are a foreign national and thought this was a “football” blog.

Personally, I have faith in CPJ righting the ship. We all need to show up on Saturday (morning, uggh, I so prefer 3:30 games) and be LOUD as hell and show our support for OUR team.

GO JACKETS!!!!

4tix4dogs4cokes

September 22nd, 2009
3:47 pm

Mark — I am going to go on faith that your “you can almost excuse that excess, seeing as how he invented the offense” quote was made with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I think Emory Bellard, while coaching under Darrell Royal at the University of Texas, is widely considered to be the “inventor” of the option or wishbone or whatever euphemism you wish to describe a multi-option running attack. Newsflash, this went down about 45 years ago, while CPJ was in a diaper and still picking his nose. So, let’s put away that narrative that CPJ is the “inventor” of this warmed over style of offensive football.

PTC Dawg Fan

September 22nd, 2009
3:49 pm

Look where tenuta is, Still cannot stop anyone, the irish have not made a significant stop since Bob Davie left. Techies, stop complaining about how bad you think he is or your team might be. You could still be under Chan Gailey.PJ will do you a fine job as soon as he gets a qb with some heart >

Charles Jackson

September 22nd, 2009
3:50 pm

Put some new looks on the option, get a QB that can pass and a D that an defend against same.

PMC

September 22nd, 2009
3:50 pm

Just one of the 5 billion reasons Dave Braine misspoke and Chan Gailey had to go.

People need to have more patience with thier sports teams. Look at what Tech lost up front on defense… that’s not getting fixed easily… and Miami… has a VERY GOOD defensive line so does Clemson. Miami was relatively unknown coming into the year outside of the talent. Jacory Harris should be the front runner currently for Heisman and Miami should be top 5 considering who they have beaten already.

Alabama Jack

September 22nd, 2009
3:50 pm

Before everyone abandons hope a reminder:
Year First Three Regular Season
2002 2-1 7-5
2003 1-2 6-6
2004 2-1 6-5
2005 3-0 7-4
2006 2-1 9-4
2007 2-1 7-5
2008 2-1 9-3
2009 2-1 2-10 to 11 -1 ????

Support the team and let them play. Go CPJ and THWG

rduck

September 22nd, 2009
3:51 pm

Sharecropper-What did he mean “We had too much in”? It means that they put in alot of extra plays, formations and coverages on defense for the game. Such as having D. Morgan in civerage on 3rd downs instead of having him put pressure on the QB. I still haven’t figured out why on earth they thought that was the best way to use our best pass rusher.Stick to the basics and read and react on defense is what he is trying to say.

PMC

September 22nd, 2009
3:52 pm

Tenuda was vastly overrated. They had a ball control offense with a substandard QB and a Sack or Touchdown defense. No wonder they couldn’t do better than 5th.

reebok

September 22nd, 2009
3:54 pm

Jack G – I got called worse than ’stupid’ by multiple coaches every time I stepped on a football field. (I deserved it, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) I’m guessing a Division-I scholarship player doesn’t need to be coddled. IMHO, of course.