“Do we have to get better at it? Yeah, you bet,” Johnson said. “I mean, I’m frustrated we’re not better at it because we practice it every day and what we’re doing is sound.”
Staying the course
With two dispiriting losses after six consecutive wins to start the season, Johnson said the important thing is to keep moving forward.
“I’ve done this for a long time and we’ve played a lot of games, and once in awhile you’re going to have games like this,” he said. “The big thing is, don’t panic, try to find some things to help with the problems you’re having, and keep going. I know what we’re doing will work.”
After a critical misplay by punt returner Zach Laskey against Miami, Johnson said coaches will "evaluate [the position] at the end of the week and see how it goes." Johnson credited Laskey for taking responsibility for the mistake, which led to a Miami touchdown in the second quarter. Johnson said Laskey told him after coming to the sideline that he didn't know why he tried to field the bouncing punt.
“Zach’s going to be a good player for us,” Johnson said. “Stuff happens.”
Winning first down
The performance of Georgia Tech's defense on first down was key to the Jackets' improved performance against the Hurricanes, defensive coordinator Al Groh said. On 18 first-down runs by Miami, the Hurricanes averaged .9 yards per carry, Groh said.
Tech Miami was 5 of 14 on third-down conversions, one of the Jackets’ better rates this season.
“First down is really the controlling down,” Groh said.
Johnson said he wouldn't know the severity of center Jay Finch's lower leg injury right away. Finch hurt himself on Tech's first offensive play from scrimmage. He was replaced by Nick McRae.
Johnson said the team's effort against Miami "was probably as good as we've had all year." ... Groh indicated that inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy's start ahead of Daniel Drummond was not necessarily a permanent switch, that he earned it through his performance in practice last week.