What Paul Johnson said after the win over Virginia

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson’s comments following the Yellow Jackets’ 30-27 overtime win over Virginia Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Opening statement

“Well, it was a heck of a game. I don’t think we particularly played well, but we found a way to get it done in the end and get the win. Their quarterback’s a heck of a player, makes a lot of plays and he’s a really good player. We left some opportunities out there and didn’t finish some drives, had to kick too many field goals, although our kicker was pretty special. He did a great job.

I don’t know what regulation time of possession was (31:29-28:31 in Tech’s favor) but they did a nice job possessing the ball and driving the ball and really, other than the punt that hit ’em in the leg… It’s been a long time since you could say that we won a game here on special teams. And tonight, special teams had a big part in it.”

On the play of special teams

“Juanyeh Thomas on the return is a really good athlete. It’s just been a matter of time. He’s going to return a bunch of them before he leaves. He’s pretty good. Pressley Harvin’s a really good player, and the way that Wesley kicked the ball today, when you have two pretty good kickers like that, it makes a world of difference.”

On coming back from 1-3 to get to 7-4

“These kids all year, they’ve battled, they’ve had a lot of heart. To think that they’ve come back from 1-3 and are going to finish either first or second in our division – well, I guess Pitt won today, so we’ll finish second; that’s the seventh time in 11 years we’ve done that – it’s not easy to do, and for those kids to come back from an 0-2 start in the league and get that accomplished, I’m proud of them.”

Area of biggest improvement

“From the start of the year till now, we’ve probably gotten better offensively, although we didn’t necessarily tonight. I think we’re better in special teams; clearly it wasn’t a far climb. And defensively, we’ve made some progress. We still struggle on third downs, but they were five of nine and we were 10 of 18. We had a hard time blocking them inside, and their corners are really good and they were sitting on routes and we were kind of waiting (to exploit that) and we caught them at the opportune time there at the end of the game.”

Kicker Wesley Wells

“He’s just pretty cool. Doesn’t much bother him. I asked him on the kick in overtime, I asked him in the locker room, I said, ‘You didn’t hit that one really solid, huh.’ He said, ‘Coach, I missed the fool out of that.’ He said, ‘I looked up and was just thinking, Oh, God, just get in there.’ But he’s just kind of even-keeled. The moment’s not too big for him. We have guys still yet that have played a lot where I think the moment’s a little too big for them. But with him it’s not. You can ask him to do anything. He’s made every kick we’ve trotted him out there for.”

On Georgia

“I know they’ve got a really, really good football team. They’ve very talented. But tonight, I’m going to kind of sit back and enjoy this one and in the morning, starting about 9, we’ll get on Georgia.”

On the team’s seniors

“They did a great job of keeping the team together when it was 1-3. That’s not easy, I can promise you. I’ve done this for 40 years. As a coach, when you start out like that and you’ve got all the negativity around you and everybody’s already pronounced you dead and shoveling dirt on you, it’s hard to keep everybody going in the same direction. And the seniors just didn’t listen. They just turned it off and we just went to work and kept playing. That’s all you can do.”

Game story: Georgia Tech takes down Virginia in overtime

Michael Cunningham: Offense stalls, so Georgia Tech wins with defense

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.