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October 23, 2013

Q&A Paul Johnson on UVA

PAUL JOHNSON: I'll tell you, it was good to get back home and play last week and finally get on the right side of the won-lost column. It seemed like it had been a long time. Got another challenge this week going to Charlottesville to play. Historically it's been a very tough place for Georgia Tech. I think we've won one time there maybe in the last 20 years. Always a tough game, and I don't think this year will be any different. We're preparing for a division game, conference game on the road, and hoping that we can keep playing well like we did last week.

Q. You mentioned how good it was to get back on the winning side, but you guys played as strong a game as you've played this season. What changed, and what got better for you this past week?

PAUL JOHNSON: Well, we didn't beat ourselves. We didn't have all the penalties and the turnovers. That was a good start. And quite honestly we played some pretty good football teams. I think the three teams that we lost to are a combined 17-3, so they're pretty good teams. And you couple that with the fact that we'd had penalties and turned the ball over and just didn't make enough plays to win, and that's where you find yourself.

Hopefully we can continue to get better and play as well this week or better than we did a week ago.

Q. Can I ask you one thing about the penalties; just watching you guys on TV and one time in person, seems like an awful lot of false start calls on your offensive line. Am I reading that right? Is it more than normal? And if so, what was causing the problem and what have you done to correct that?

PAUL JOHNSON: No, I'd say it was way more than normal. We've done this for a long time and never had those issues. I think the Virginia Tech game is when it started, and a lot of that was because they were blitzing and stunting and our guys just got kind of antsy, and then at BYU you're on the road, crowd noise, lack of focus, lack of concentration. We jumped on the first play of the game.

You know, we just continued to work on it and talk about it like we work on it every day. Part of the problem was at times I think we were getting a late snap and guys were getting off and we weren't snapping the ball.

But if I had the answer, we wouldn't have done it so long. We didn't do anything new last week other than continue to work on it and talk about it, and our guys did a better job with it.

Q. Obviously you were not in the same division as NC State, but you went up against State a couple times when Tenuta was there. Do you know what you expect with Tenuta, or is he likely to throw a lot of wrinkles at you?

PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think they're a pressure team normally, but we'll have an idea. I mean, he was at Notre Dame when they played Navy at Notre Dame, and I don't know how much of the NC State stuff was his or whether it was Mike Archer's who was the defensive coordinator.

But I'm sure he had input either way. There's only a few ways you can line up. I mean, I think we'll have a beat on what they're doing. It's just a question of can we execute and play against their guys.

Q. Talk about playing down in Charlottesville, how difficult it is for you guys to play down there.

PAUL JOHNSON: Well, it's been really difficult. As a head coach here, I've only been there twice, and we won the first time, and then the last time we were there we went in there undefeated, we went in there 6-0 and lost. For whatever reason I think a lot of it has to do with the way Virginia has played, but we haven't played particularly well there, and they've gotten after us. It's been a tough place for Georgia Tech.

Q. Talk about Coach London. I know you've been in some areas and you've been on the hot seat a couple times. What does he feel like right now? What did you --

PAUL JOHNSON: Only when you lose that week you're on the hot seat. I'm sure that Mike is just worried about getting his football team coached and doing what he needs to do to be successful. I think that sometimes people build all that stuff up. You can't worry about it, you've just got to do your job and do the best you can do. I'm sure that's what he's doing. I don't think he's spending too much time worrying about the other stuff.

Don't worry about stuff you can't handle.

Q. Nealy played a pretty large role in the shutout. Can you talk about him and what you're getting from him and what you've seen?

PAUL JOHNSON: Yes, he played a great game Saturday. I thought he played his best game of the year. No question, I think if you'd asked Quayshawn going into the game, he'd tell you he hasn't played up to his capability this year. He struggled, he missed some tackles and really was in competition for his job with a freshman and on the base defense if the freshman started and he had a chance to start on nickel and went out there and responded the way you'd like to see a guy who's played as much football as him respond. He played a tremendous game, by far the best game he's played all year, made some huge plays for us.

Q. Are you happy with the development of the defense? I know you talked about you've played three real tough teams and you come back, and Syracuse had played pretty well the week before at NC State. To shut them down was a pretty impressive performance.

PAUL JOHNSON: Yeah, I think Syracuse is a good football team. You never -- I think the worst thing people do is look at scores. I tell our guys all the time, it's never as good or as bad as it seems most of the time, and certainly that's the case. We got on them early, and it just kind of snowballed. But I am pleased with our defense to this point. I think we're certainly better than we were a year ago, there's no question about that. And I think we're continuing to grow, and we'll face another challenge up in Charlottesville.



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