Here is what Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson had to say after his Yellow Jackets beat No. 17 Virginia Tech 28-22 on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
I was proud of our guys. I think they showed a lot of grit and determination. We got up and then we threw the pick-six and got down, it would’ve been easy to hang our head. And we hit a play to get the lead back and (were) able to hold on this time. It’s a great win and it gets us to win No. 5. Next week, we go on to Duke and we know that’ll be a tough game with a lot riding on the line for us.
On the crazy Virginia Tech catch:
I was thinking we were cursed when they got that deep ball. I thought it was going to be a pick and we were going to get the ball at the 40. And then, low and behold, off two of our guys, they caught it again. And then we hit the big play action to Ricky (Jeune) and we get down there and make the two-point conversation, but then had two guys who went in motion at the same time. Then we jump offsides. With six minutes to go, I’m thinking the odds of getting two from the 30-yard line are whatever so at least we’ll go up six and the chance that if they score they could have a bad snap or black a kick. Or, if they got it down there in one play or kicked a field goal and cut it to three, at least you were there.
On the growing rivalry:
I think it’s always a spirited game when we play (Virginia Tech). I think it’s turned into a pretty big rivalry. Most of the time that I’ve been here, for the most part, whoever has won this game has won the (ACC Coastal) Division. Not the case this year, but it’s been pretty good. And they’ve all been pretty close too – hard-fought, tough games. I think both programs have a lot of respect for each other, I know we have a lot of respect for them and what they do. And I would assume it’s the same the other way.
On getting more passing involved in the second half:
We threw probably more in the first half than the second half. We had some play-actions in the game that could have been a touchdown and we couldn’t make a play. There was no used to throwing the ball short. That is not our thing anyway. And the way they were playing, they were all play-action plays and we were crossing guys and trying to confuse them in ma coverage. Like the last play, what had happened we had been running the little option the twirl option. They were bringing the corner down and the safety over the top and I told our guys at halftime if they did that our guy should be wide open. And you can see I think it was 6 back there., he was pointing to him, but he was going back outside to play the A-back on the twirl, but because there was no motion, they had no rotation. In our case it was executed really well. And TaQuon threw a really nice ball.
On sustaining long offensive drives:
Well, we had a hard time blocking their inside guys today. They are really good. I think they those two big tackles. I was talking to (Virginia Tech defensive coordinator) Bud (Foster) before the game and he said we have been playing really well inside and they do. Those two big defensive tackles both go 320. They are good players. And they are quick too besides being big. But we will watch the tape. I don’t think we had quite as many missed assignments and things. We started out that way, we had two on the first three plays but we settled down and didn’t have as many missed assignments. You know KirVonte (Benson) runs the ball hard when you give him a chance and get him started.
On decisions to throw long passes:
When you play a team like them, they dictate that to me. And they sometime sellout to play run and when they sellout to play run they have one-on-one coverage opportunities deep. And in the first half we had three that we just didn’t make a play. One, we threw late on the corner route and they got (pass interference) on one, and then on one, Brad, it was pretty much the same kinda play, he scored on the touchdown in the second half. It was the same with Jalen (Camp) in the end zone. Those balls when you get there. It is one-on-one. You have to make a play.
On the play of Brant Mitchell and defense:
I thought the defense played well, especially early on. We hit one little span in the third quarter where they ran the ball on us pretty well, but all in all I think the defense did a nice job.
On what he told TaQuon Marshall to do when throwing the ball in the second half:
I told TaQuon to lead the receiver and throw it on time. I think the very first play, he just missed him. He barely overthrew him it and when you do that, sometimes it gives you cause to do it again. You want to throw it to him. But, he made, what, two completions and they were both for touchdowns and it ended up being for 140 yards? So, we’ll live with that. That’s a pretty good average.
On pass blocking by offensive line:
Most of the play action stuff, (the offensive line) did a pretty good job. They were holding the guys on the block. We had seven guys blocking most of the time on the play action stuff because they were in a lot of man coverage.
On fake punt play:
It’s something we carry every week. They kept their defense out there actually, which sometimes that is even better and sometimes it is just a numbers thing. It’s a counter. He almost dropped the dang snap. But he caught it and we got just enough to keep the drive going. The other call that killed us was the bogus chop block. Jesus. I mean I am asking our guys what happened and the left tackle fell down and the center blocked back on the guy. And the guy fell back and tripped on the guy laying on the ground and they called a chop block. I mean that was a big play. We ended up getting no points. We had first-and-goal on the six.
On performance of special teams:
A little hit-or-miss. Just say what it is. It’s awful. I mean the kick coverage was better all except for one. We had every starter out there on it I think. The one thing I think that was better was the punt return team. He had a couple of nice punt returns. Kickoff return was abysmal again. We missed the only field goal we tried. So, it is a progress in work. We have to keep working on it. We have to do a better job coaching on it.
On Tre’ Jackson getting engaged on the field after the game
I missed it. He had asked me and told me he was going to do it and all I said and I forgot about it. He came and asked about it a couple of weeks ago and I said, ‘Tre’ what are you going to do if we don’t win the game?’ and he said, ‘well, I’ll do it on the plaza afterwards.’ I had forgotten about it. But congratulations to him and he is excited about that.
On talking to his players after tough situations in game:
Nah, I just said hey guys we have seven minutes, let’s go win the game. We are down whatever it was, I can’t remember, but we needed a touchdown. It’s just like you go play. I told TaQuon (Marshall), that (interception) is over and you can’t get it back. The bad thing is, it was supposed to be a backside throw and he rolled and threw it frontside. Just a bad play. To his credit, he came back and made a great play. And then at the end he did a great job getting the first down he needed to make.
On excitement to see Brad Stewart get his first career touchdown:
I was excited to see it. All the guys in the locker room were excited for Brad. You are always surprised on third-and-18 if you are that open, but we thought we had some good stuff in the play-action game with the way they were playing because they tried to pass guys off. I think the safety tried to go over the top and the corner had to cover him and the guy leveraged and Brad did a nice job and TaQuon threw a nice ball to the open space.
On sweep plays with A-backs:
Ya, we were just trying to stop (Virginia Tech) from running across. It’s one of those plays where you hit it two or three times. The first one they hadn’t seen it. We hadn’t run it all year and Nathan made a big play out of it to get us going.
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