Paul Johnson spoke with the media after 38-24 win over Wake Forest (by: Maghen Moore)

VIDEO: What Paul Johnson said after 38-24 win over Wake Forest

Opening statement: 

“That was a heck of a football game. I was really proud of our guys in the second half. I think Wake Forest is a good team. They’ve played everybody close all year and they’re really good on defense inside. To come out in the second half, the defense did a nice job holding them to three points and got some fourth-down stops. On offense, we were able to get some big plays and get in the end zone. We can make it look scary with special teams but the bottom line is 38 more than 24 and you take it and move on. I thought we found some things in the second half and we were able to do a little better on some counter stuff on offense, especially on the quarterback counter, he hit them for two long plays there.”

On the first-half defense versus the read option:

“We couldn’t get lined up. We had a couple guys out but that’s no excuse. In the second half, we did a little better getting lined up. We just talked about it at halftime. I don’t care what defense we play, I just want to be able to line up. And we did that and some guys made some plays defensively in the second half.” 

On kicker Brenton King’s performance:

“I thought the field goal he made right before halftime was big. He had a couple kicks out of bounds that weren’t good but we were right on the fringe of a field goal there when we there it in the end zone. I’ll be honest, I just didn’t have a lot of confidence after we rolled the snap back on the extra point. If we hadn’t got the penalty, we probably would’ve kicked it but it was maybe 5 yards farther than I wanted to try to kick. I thought about punting and trying to pin them inside the 10, but the ball was only on the 35, I think, or somewhere around there.” 

On the defense coming alive in the second half:

“We struggle to stop the run in the first half. They never really had a lot of yards in the first half. It was a crazy game, I think both teams held the ball four times [in the first half] and, to their redit, they scored three touchdowns and we had to kick field goals. Really, really frustrated with that first drive –– first and goal from the 2-yard line and getting knocked straight back like that. We put in a little zone play and I don’t thin k we blocked it right. We must have run that thing 5,000 times in practice this week and we get out there in a game and look like we’ve never done it.”

On the two failed two-point conversions:

“Well that’s not special teams, that’s on me. The way we ran them, they were awful play calls. We tried to run the zone option on the first one that we worked on all week and the second one was a little rub route with three guys and we pulled it down and kept reverse field. We might could’ve run it but he tried to kill Clinton [Lynch] with it; he threw it like a low fastball. But I’ve coached long enough than to go chasing after those two points, especially in the third quarter. You know it was 21-19; everything is you got to go for two. You start chasing them and then you can’t get off them. You got to keep chasing them.”

On the high level of energy after disappointing loss last week: 

“I think we had way more energy in the second half than in the first half. There was a little more sense of urgency. I don’t know. If you can figure out what’s going to happen with 18-22 year olds, good luck to you. I’ve been doing this for 39 years and I couldn’t tell you.”

On QB TaQuon Marshall’s two touchdowns on the ground:

“He’s a gifted runner. I think on both his long runs, Ricky [Jeune] did a nice job blocking. I know on the first one, Shamire [Devine] got a guy, we pinned his guy. And when we got the pull, both Parker [Braun] and Jahaziel [Lee] got fed up and there was nobody else out there. And the last one was the same thing. Parker had to stop –– he really shouldn’t have –– he stopped and went back and blocked the guy because they were so far down in there and then once TaQuon broke outside he’s got pretty good quicks.” 

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