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November 11, 2013

Paul Johnson Press Conference 11/11

Opening Statement
"Excited to get back to practicing, we took a couple days off this weekend and after playing in seven straight games we needed to do that. It's certainly going to be a big challenge on Thursday night. Clemson is a tough place to play and they've got a lot of explosive athletes. They've got a very good team, as evidenced by their ranking and their record, so we look at it as an opportunity to go in and measure ourselves as a team and see if we've made the progress we feel we've made in the past couple of weeks." On Ray Beno's status...
"He's made it through practice so far, so I would think that he'll be available for the game. Right now he's in a back-up role, but I would think he's going to play." On the play of Jemea Thomas...
"I think he's playing really well, but he's been a really good football player for a while. He's done a lot of things, played a couple of positions and he's certainly playing really good right now. I think he's good at both. He's way more involved in the run game playing safety because he sometimes comes down into the box. He can be a pretty good corner too, because he's good in coverage as well."

The play of Clemson's Roderick McDowell...
"He's got good balance. He's ideal for what they do, he gives them a punch. They've had some good backs, [Andre] Ellington was a tremendous back that played there before him. He's a huge weapon in all the zone stuff they run."

On where has the team improved...
"I think in the last two or three games we've done much better at getting pressure on the passer, that's one thing. I feel like we've gotten better at blocking on the perimeter. That's certainly going be a big deal this week. I would like to think that we're better at the mechanics of the option although at times it doesn't seem like it, but from what I see in practice I know we're better at. So those are three things right there."

On how the team has improved...
"I think sometimes we make too much out of a first-year system, or this system or that system. Basically what we're doing defensively we did the last six games of last year anyway. I think the terminology and communication with each other playing helps some, but it's not like we're doing a whole lot of different things than we did a year ago. It might be a wee bit simpler, and they've played a lot more. We've got several guys on defense who've played a lot of snaps now, and when there's six or seven seniors, those guys have all been playing for three or four years."

On what Clemson defensive players to watch...
"I think that the inside guys are the guys for us. No. 50, the guy from Rockdale County (Ga.), Grady Jarrett, he's one of their captains. Stephone Anthony, their linebacker, has gotten better. The other DE, Corey Crawford, is a good player. Vic Beasley is a pass rusher guy, and that's probably why he gets more notoriety because when you play against those teams it becomes a bigger deal. I don't know if he's a squeeze and scrape guy, which is what he'll have to do against us, so we'll see how he plays."

On how Jemea will be used differently (if he will be matched up with Sammy Watkins)...
"There's always a possibility. You don't want to change what you do by game. I think that's the biggest misnomer out there is that by each game, what are we going to change and do this and match that. More than often, you're better off dancing with the one that brought you. You're better off doing what you do. I've said for years, that's why I love to play teams who get away from what they do defensively and try to put something new in each week. My philosophy has been that if they're going to be better in one week than you are in 19 of running it, they were going to beat you no matter what they did. I think it's the same way defensively. What you want to do is to try and contain them, but you don't want to do something you haven't done and try to come in and reinvent the wheel. We've played pretty good defense the last three games. We need to go in and play our system with a few wrinkles and see what happens."

On the play of Chase Roberts and Trey Braun on the O-Line...
"I've been really pleased with both those guys. I think they play hard. Chase has been a pleasant surprise, because as a redshirt freshman we weren't sure he was ready to play. But he got thrust out there and played just as well as anybody. Trey Braun is a fighter. He slugs away and he's played through some injuries, and he's a tough kid. I'm real proud of them."

On asking UGA for assistance on scouting Clemson...
"Yeah, I may call [UGA] up today and see what they say. No, I don't think we're going to get any help from Georgia, and I don't think they'd expect any from us."

On scouting Clemson...
"We watched Clemson against everybody; we traded all the film, so we've seen every game they've played. There's not much correlation between the way Georgia runs the ball and the way we run the ball. There's much better teams to look at."

On the play of Jay Finch...
"Jay's another guy who's played through some injuries. He's stayed out there and played tough. Jay's a good athlete, so he's done some good things."

On looking at the series vs. Clemson as a whole...
"We've played them, they're our cross-rival in the ACC so we've played them every year. They're a couple hours up the road and they recruit a lot in Georgia, it's just been good games. Last year up there, I don't think the score was indicative of the game. I think it got away from us, but we were up one in the fourth quarter and had the ball on the 12-yard line on fourth-and-one and we fumbled the snap. So they've been good games. This may be the best team they've had since I've been here."

On what stands out in particular about Clemson...
"Clearly having the quarterback as a senior. He's gotten more experienced. They've got good skill. They've been good offensively, but this might be their best team defensively since I've been here, just personnel-wise and athletically. They've had some good individual players, but as a whole this might be their best defensive team since I've been here."

On the identity of Tech as a team right now...
"We're a team that's fairly physical. We run the ball pretty good and defend the run pretty good. We've been in every game we've played. I think if we don't turn the ball over and don't commit a lot of penalties, we're a tough out. Will we win every game? I don't know; that's why you play. But when we do the things that we do well and take care of the ball, we could be a tough out."



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