Paul Johnson’s comments at TaxSlayer Bowl news conference

Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall shakes hands with Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson after the Yellow Jackets beat the Cavaliers 31-17 Saturday, November 19, 2016. SPECIAL/Daniel Varnado

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson used an interesting — and apt — phrasing to describe the state of the Yellow Jackets midway through the season.

At 3-3, Johnson said he “felt like the season was just kind of mediocre, just kind of sitting there.”

You know the rest. The Jackets finished 5-1 to reach 8-4 and earn a spot against Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 31 in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We got fortunate and got a little hot, started playing a little better and really finished up the season on a positive note,” he said at a news conference in Jacksonville on Thursday. “So, hopefully, we can carry that momentum into Jacksonville. Certainly, we’ll need to do that against what is a very fine Kentucky team that also finished strong.”

Some other tidbits from the 15-minute session:

Johnson said the team will have about 10 practices leading to the game. The Jackets had two this week and will start again Tuesday. (The 15-practice limit for bowl season is a myth. There is no limit on how many times a team may practice in preparation for a bowl game.)

“It’s futile to try to practice during finals at a place like ours,” he said. “You’re not going to get anything accomplished.”

Final exams began Thursday and run through next Thursday. Other comments from Johnson:

Johnson on the spread-option offense: “We don’t see ourselves as being all that different, but I guess maybe we are. We’re basically an option football team offensively. We try to run different forms of the option, and we change up some blocking schemes once in a while. It’s just something that we’ve been doing for a long time, and we feel like we know what we want to do. Sometimes, physical superiority can cancel all theory, but at least we have an idea of what we’re trying to do offensively.”

Johnson acknowledged that few teams run offenses similar to Tech’s, but “there’s very few teams in college football anymore that don’t embrace some form of the option and zone read and those kind of things. Certainly, Kentucky does a lot of that out of their wildcat stuff and some of the things they do. Probably not as big a difference as people would make it out to be, really.”

With the trip to Jacksonville, Johnson said he planned to make a couple of recruiting visits while in the area. Tech has several players from north Florida, including linebacker Victor Alexander, Step Durham, Antonio Simmons and Lamont Simmons from Jacksonville.

“There’s a lot of good football here, and so again, we’re excited to be here,” he said. “We’ve got a pretty good fan base in the north Florida area, in Amelia (Island), Ponte Vedra, Jacksonville area, so we’re hoping that we’ll have a good turnout as well.”

Coaches will use time at the end of practice to work with players who have been on scout team.

“What we’re really trying to accomplish is to get them prepared for spring practice, get ’em up to speed,” Johnson said, “because all year, they’ve been on scout teams and they haven’t had a chance to do that, so we’ll take the end of each practice, right up until about the last week before the bowl game and work with those guys on fundamentals.”

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