PAUL JOHNSON: Good afternoon. First, let me say how excited Georgia Tech is to be here in Charlotte for this game. I'd like to thank the committee, the ACC and everybody for all their hard work in planning and putting this event on. Before I get started, I'd also like to congratulate Michael Kelly, who's meant a lot to the league and wish him well in his new job, and I was just talking to Barb Dery, and I guess this is going to be her last event, so we wish her well. Again, excited to have the chance to play in the game, and looking forward to it. So with that, throw it open to some questions.
Q. On Sunday afternoon I guess when
you spoke to us, you talked about how you
hoped the kids would rebound well from the
Georgia loss. That was before you had any
practices. Since then have you seen what you
wanted to see out of them in practice?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think so. I think we've had a good week of practice. You know, there's been some energy, and I think the guys understand what a great opportunity we have to be in the game. So I feel like that our guys will show up and play well.
Q. Orwin Smith listed as doubtful, did
not practice on Thursday. Plans on replacing
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, we didn't have Orwin last week. If he doesn't go, we kind of play that position by committee anyway, but B.J. Bostic will probably start opposite Robbie Godhigh. We'll go again and see if Orwin can go. I think doubtful is probably about right but just not final yet.
Q. When you reflect upon the season
so far, is there any particular thing on the
positive that really surprised you about how
this team kind of came together? And on the
other side of the fence, was there something
that probably you did not get as much as you
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, let me start with
the second half of that first. I think that we kind of had a season, two seasons in one. We started out early, and we had a couple of really tough losses in the league, you know, to open up in Blacksburg and be up with 40 seconds to go and end up losing the game in overtime, and the same thing with Miami, who everyone thought at the beginning of the year, that those two games were going to be the pivotal thing in who would be here in Charlotte. So I think that both those games,
especially the Miami game, affected us more than
one week. We got to the bye week, were able to
rebound a little bit, and the positive thing for our team is we won four conference games in a row
and two of them on the road, and I think that they
were resilient and fought back and fought their
way back to the top of the Coastal Division.
Q. Can you just talk about what you
view as kind of the keys to winning this game?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think it's going to be, like most any game, the turnover battle will be huge, you know, especially for us. We need to be on the positive side of that. We need to be not only efficient in running the ball, but we're going to have to score some points and not give up big, explosive plays in the kicking game. We've really struggled with that aspect in a lot of games this
year. And if we can do those three things, you
know, I think we can hang around.
Q. Can you talk about E.J. Manuel and kind of what he brings and what you do to stop him?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think clearly he's an outstanding player. He's very athletic. Not only can he hurt you throwing the ball, he keeps plays alive. He's a good runner. And he's experienced. He's played a lot of football. It's a challenge. I don't think you ever stop a guy like that. I think what you do is you try to contain him. We've got to find some ways to get pressure on him and try to mix up what we do. We can't become in a situation where he knows exactly how we're playing all the time. If you do that, he's going to tear you up.
Q. Another Florida State related question: Bjoern Werner this week was named Defensive Player of the Year. Is he a guy that you have to do anything different to account for or do you just run your offense and let the chips fall?
PAUL JOHNSON: Well, I think that's a very deserved honor for him. He's quite the player and a great pass rusher. You know, we've got to do what we do, but we'll be very much aware of where he is, especially if you're trying to throw the ball on passing downs and that type of thing. I think with a lot of stuff we do, we'll always have to block him. He'll be a read key or a pitch key in some of those kind of things. But he's anoutstanding football player.