By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Still some tinkering left for Tech
Placeholder Image
Georgia Tech
Sports Information Department

New Georgia Tech head football coach and former Georgia Southern coach Paul Johnson spent three hours earlier this week answering questions about his system and the Yellow Jackets’ 2008 season.

What are your thoughts on preseason polls?
It really doesn’t matter much at all right now. I think you can come up with the top two teams or so, but after that I don’t really think you can realistically do it. That’s why you play the games and we’ll see in December how close they come.

What is the one thing that your team has to do better as you get ready for the season opener on Aug. 28?
I think we just need to be more consistent. There were days in the spring when we looked pretty good as a football team, but then there were days for some reason or another that we faltered. We are continuing to learn and I think the key is to just improve every day. That’s all you can ask for.

How important is the summer program in regards to the conditioning factor? Andrew Gardner and Vance Walker both said yesterday that it has been a key focus point.
It’s tremendously important. No matter where you or what you do this summer conditioning plays a big part. I’ve been pleased with the work ethic of our guys this summer. We’ve had the majority of our team on campus this summer and they’ve worked extremely hard. Hopefully when we get started, you’ll see the benefits of that and won’t have to worry so much on that aspect of the game and can go straight into trying to get ready to play.

How much of their seven-on-seven voluntary stuff was done to work on the timing of pitches?
We didn’t do a lot of pitches in the seven-on-seven. They were throwing the ball. We ran some option stuff this summer. They can set up their drills, but it’s a little bit harder to do that when its seven-on-seven. Our guys went out there a couple nights a week over the summer to do that and I think attendance was pretty good. We’ll see what kind of carryover we have when we get going this fall.

Can you explain why you say your offense really isn’t that different and some people are exaggerating it?
I think it’s kind of funny, actually. I don’t know how anyone even knows what kind of offense we’re going to run. We haven’t played a game yet. You can color it any way you want. It doesn’t matter what you do on offense if you can’t execute. If everyone understands what you’re trying to do, then you can all be successful. I get a kick out of when people ask me if it will work on this level. Last time I looked, we were playing a Division I schedule at Navy. We played five or six teams from the ACC and we played Notre Dame every year, so I don’t think it’s a question of fundamentally will it work. We’re going to execute and run it just like any other offense.

Do you think your offense requires more of a learning curve than some other offenses?
Not really. It’s just like anything else. I think it’s successful and the neat thing that I like about it is that it’s a system. If you go back and look through the years, it’s been a different type of deal for different teams. There were years at Hawaii where we threw the ball for over 200 yards a game. Basically, when we were at Georgia Southern we didn’t throw the ball for a lot of yards, but when you look at the scores most of the time we were so far ahead at halftime that there was no need to throw the ball in the second half. We still threw the ball for 100-150 yards a game and most of it was just in one half. If you can rush for 360 or 380 yards and throw for 140, you’ll be pretty good.

Can you look back at your time at Navy? How special was it what you did there and putting up those kinds of offensive numbers?
The Naval Academy was a very special place. We had an opportunity to work with some outstanding people and I really enjoyed our time there. I think you have to give those young men who played the credit for turning things around. They battled hard and bought into what we believed from day one. I look back on it as a very fond experience. It was very gratifying to see those guys go to five straight bowl games.

How much of a difference does it make now that you are at Georgia Tech in terms of the caliber of athlete?
The offensive system is big enough that we won’t have to change it. What exactly we do within that system will depend on the individual. Will we throw the ball more at Georgia Tech than we did at Navy? Probably, but we’ll see what gives us the best chance to win. If we can throw the ball with a little more efficiency at Georgia Tech, then we may not have to rush it as well. Bottom line is at the end of the game you want to have more points than they do, and it doesn’t matter how you get it.

Can you talk about Josh Nesbitt? Do you have enough confidence in him as a starting quarterback?

I’m excited about Josh. I think that he possesses all the physical tools that you look for in a quarterback. He can throw the ball better than people think.