Paul Johnson previews Clemson game

Tech-Clemson is one of college football's oldest rivalries, dating back to 1898.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson previewed Saturday’s game against No. 3 Clemson at his weekly news conference. Among his thoughts about Clemson, his team and the game ahead:

“This week will be a tremendous challenge. This might be as talented a team as we’ve played since I’ve been here. Defensively, they’ve got multiple first-round draft picks and, honestly, they’ve got a great deal of skill. I think their running backs and receivers are as good as any anybody in the country. So it’ll be a huge challenge.

On Clemson’s defensive line possibly being the best of all-time:

“They’re pretty good. They’ve probably got three, maybe four first-round draft picks up there on the defensive line. So there won’t be many teams that will ever have that. The challenge becomes just trying to find a way to block ’em or read ’em to get to the second level. But hopefully with the nature of what we do, we won’t have to block all those guys and maybe we’ll be able to double some of them.”

On Saturday’s game: 

“You’ve always got a chance. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but they’re a really good team. We’ll have to play better than we’ve played to this point. If you do that and you execute, you’ve got a chance. I think the nature of what we do gives you a little bit of a chance as opposed to having to line up in an I-formation and block all those guys or pass block. They haven’t given up very much. Like the Texas A&M game, when you watch, one was busted coverage, one was a deflection off another guy in the end zone that a guy in the end zone caught, and really the other touchdown they had probably should have been an interception. It went through the guy from Clemson’s hands. So they haven’t given up a whole lot.”

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On B-backs Jordan Mason and Jerry Howard: 

“I think they struggled a little bit in the last game blocking but they were very productive. They had, I guess together, about 190 some yards rushing out of the position, so that’s a positive and you would like to think as guys who haven’t played much they’re going to get better the more they play. Overall, I was pleased with them. Could they have played better? Sure. We all could. We could coach better, play better. We could all have done better.”

On freshman Jack linebacker Jordan Domineck:

“I think he’s going to be really good player, and he’s done some good things. It’s just hard for a freshman. You don’t want to take an 18-year-old kid and throw him out there against 22-year-olds if you can help it. My experience has been most of the time, if a true freshman is playing, they’re probably a next-level player. They’re probably an NFL guy or you’re just playing him out of necessity because of injuries or you’ve got guys that are hurt. I think as he grows into it, he’s going to be really good and he’s made some plays now. But you’d like to see him have a little bit of time before he has to play.”

On quaterback TaQuon Marshall’s practice performance:

“He’s like everybody. There’s days that he’s better than others. But I think he’s a little more accurate than what we’ve seen early and we’ll see as it plays out. You can’t be afraid to throw the ball. He can throw the ball. We’ve just got to do it.”

On Clemson’s defense:

“They’ll probably determine who has the ball (in the option). Up there a year ago, we played really poorly in the first half. Again the conditions were rough and I think the first series, we fumbled the ball and that’s the stuff you can’t do. I mean, we’ve just got to take care of our stuff. We’ve got a system. You turn on the tape, the kids can watch it. They turn on the tape, they understand. They know. We can see when we turn it on why it’s not working. We’ve just got to do better.”

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