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Bobby Johnson Press Conference
Georgia Tech Game Week
Monday, August 26, 2001

Opening Statement:
We're really excited that game week is finally here. The players are excited about going down to Atlanta and playing Georgia Tech. They've been working extremely hard the past two weeks trying to get ready and we've made some progress. Our guys have finally figured out that a lot of hard work is what is required. Being precise and doing the things that we asked them to do is what it's going to take for us to be successful as a team. I'm pleased with the way they have worked. We have another important week ahead of us and we're going to try to get better still.

Q: Who is your starting quarterback?

A: Today, when we go out to practice, we're going to have Jay Cutler working with our first team. It was a very tough decision. The easy decision would have been to pick Benji (Walker) because he is older. We think they are close, but that there are a couple of things that Jay does just a little bit better and we're going to try to take advantage of those things. Benji will be going into the game and it won't be in a situation where Jay is not performing well. He has to be ready and he has to know the game plan and Benji Walker will be a very good player for us this year. We'll have to rely on him to do a lot of things this year and we feel very blessed that we have two quarterbacks.

Q: Do you not mind putting two quarterbacks in or would you rather have one?

A: We want to avoid that situation. They are both very talented and very rarely are you able to go through an entire season where the quarterback stays healthy and is able to play every play even if he was that much better than the second teamer. So, we want to have a situation where we feel comfortable putting either of them in the game at anytime. We're going to have to get both of them real snaps in the game, when the game is on the line. And then also get them snaps when they are not looking over their shoulder thinking that if I make a mistake, coach is going to take me out.

Q: What was it that Jay Cutler does better than Benji Walker?

A: Right now we just have more confidence in Jay being able to make some of the throws that we're going to have to make. That is probably the only thing. They both are very mobile, they can run, they have a good understanding of the option and they both understand what we want to get done in the passing game. We just have a little more confidence in Jay's arm on certain throws.

Q: How is the placekicking situation?

A: It's getting closer. To tell you the truth, we have not made our minds up on that yet. We're going to have a little competition this afternoon. Greg Johnson is definitely our punter. Greg is right in the mix for the placekicking job also. There is a little bit of a comfort level there knowing we'll have him as the punter and have him there as a possible placekicker. That helps me feel a little better about it. We probably will only pick one other guy to go to Georgia Tech, possibly two depending on how they do. This is not a conference game so we can take as many as we want.

Q: Are you planning on drawing up game plans to utilize both quarterbacks?

A: We'll have to utilize them both. If we're in a game and either one of them starts and we're doing well, then we're going to try to win the game. And we're going to try to get prepared to play the whole season. That's something we're going to have to play by ear, but they're both going to have to be able to perform.

Q: Is it hard to prepare for Georgia Tech since they've had a coaching change?

A: It's pretty tough. They have the same offensive coordinator, so I don't think they'll change too much because they have been very successful on offense. They're very versatile. They run options, they run four-wide, they do all that stuff. They do all the stuff that we would like to do eventually. Defensively, Jon Tenuta came from North Carolina as their defensive coordinator. We know a good bit about him because Robbie Caldwell and Jamie Bryant were on the staff with him last year. But, just knowing them does not give us any advantage. I think that's overrated. All coaches know what other people do, it's predicting when they're going to do it and how well they're going to do it.

Q: Do you try to simplify your game plan, taking into consideration it's the first game of the season and there will be some jitters?

A: You try. You sit there in the staff meetings and you try to say, 'what are we going to do in this and that situation. Let's try to take advantage of this player we have and that player we have.' It's hard to simplify them, believe me. You're tempted to say that we need something exactly right for every situation. If you don't watch it, the game plan can get very complicated, so we are trying to simplify it.

Q: How is the fullback situation looking?

A: Again, there is good competition there, but it probably will be Matthew Tant. Bara Cola has demonstrated to us that we have another guy that we feel confident will make the plays, especially the blocks. Bara is a hard-nosed, tough guy that has really come on strong for us. We're going to dress a lot of the fullbacks because they are so versatile. Right now Matthew is more of a run threat than Bara.

Q: How do you account for Georgia Tech defensive end Greg Gathers?

A: Two or three people. You try. You want to know where he is at all times. But you can get into a situation where you're trying to account for too much and not running your game plan the way you want to do it. But he is certainly a presence on that defensive line and you've got to know exactly what you're going to try to do to stop him. But not that many people have.

Q: What do you see in Georgia Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs?

A: I see a very versatile quarterback. He got into the bowl game, ran some options and did some good stuff for them. He's played before, he played at Tennessee. I don't see it as the same situation as our quarterbacks. He's got much more game experience than our quarterbacks do. I don't see an inexperienced, green quarterback coming in for them. He's ready to play and has been ready to play.

Q: Has Dominique Morris won the cornerback job over Aaron McWhorter?

A: Yeah, plus Aaron McWhorter is still nursing a little bit of a sore hamstring. I think he's going to be ready to go full speed, but he's not been able to practice. If you can't practice, it's pretty tough to get game ready. Plus, Dominique has come on and had a great preseason camp. He's made some big plays for us and he has demonstrated his toughness and the fact that he can tackle. We feel very confident putting Dominique out there in the game.

Q: Does playing a game like this on the road take some pressure off you and the team?

A: I don't know. I hadn't thought about it like that. We're just anxious to play whether it's home or away. Georgia Tech is a quality opponent and they won a bowl game last year. They have a bunch of people back. The program has been steady and they have been in a bowl game the past five years. It's a pretty demanding opener, but it's going to tell us a lot about our football team. The great thing that we're finding out is that our platers are anxious to go down there and play. I don't think we have any fear and we're going down there to win the game and just do the best we can.

Q: Would it have been easier to start the season with an easier opponent?

A: Well yeah. An easier opponent would be easier. But I know what you're saying. It's all about confidence. If you go down there and play well against a very good opponent it builds your confidence just as well as if you play so-so against an easier opponent. I don't know the trade offs there or which is better. We're preparing for a long, hard, tough season. We play in the best conference in the country and we need to get ready. And this first game will give us a test.

Q: What are your thoughts about facing Furman next week?

A: I haven't thought about it. We're playing Georgia Tech this week and we have to get ready for them or it could be a long, long, long two weeks. So, we don't want that to happen.


 







 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
                   
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