I wrote three posts off of coach Paul Johnson's news conference Monday, about wide receiver Micheal Summers returning, a planned B-back rotation for Thursday's season opener against Alcorn State and also his comments about Tech not fining players out of their cost-of-attendance stipends. Some other notes from the media session.
1. While there are 13 first-year freshmen on the offensive and defensive depth chart, “a lot of those guys won’t play,” Johnson said. “There’ll be some that play and there’s a lot on that list that won’t play. I think that, as a whole, the freshman class was really good. We’re excited about them."
Wide receiver Brad Stewart, B-back Marcus Marshall, A-back TaQuon Marshall and linebackers Victor Alexander and Brant Mitchell are in the plans to play. I'm less clear on the rest.
2. Johnson on the possibility of winning 10 games at a place where it hasn’t been done much (the subject of my esteemed colleague Mark Bradley’s column for myajc and the paper): “Clearly, it’s possible. We’ve done it a couple times since I’ve been here. … That’s our goal every year, certainly, to try to win every game. I don’t get too hung up on all that. I just try to focus on one game at a time and try to get better and at the end of the year, the record’s what it is. If you can get better and play better, usually that stuff takes care of itself. We’ll go into the season hoping to beat Alcorn and Georgia and everybody in between.”
Regarding the possibility that Tech might be in a better position than 2010 to follow up a double-digit win season: "I don't know that you ever get into anywhere, really, where it's just a re-load where you've got players falling out the windows and as soon as one guy goes, there's five more All-Americans to step in and fall in."
Perhaps the players themselves are glad to not be in a situation where they're falling out of windows.
3. Regarding freshmen playing Thursday, Johnson said he fully expects it won’t be a perfect showing.
“We’re going to play some freshmen and they’re going to make some mistakes,” he said. “You just hope they don’t make enough of them to really cost you and that they learn from it.”
4. Johnson said that no player or coach has said anything to him about the team being ranked in the preseason (the first time since 2010).
“You just go play,” he said. “You start talking about it, you won’t be there long.”
5. Johnson was asked a question about different conferences (the Big Ten, at least) requiring teams to only schedule FBS-level opponents. He said that Tech’s policy has been the same since his hire – two power-conference teams, one team from a non-power conference and an FCS opponent – and said he didn’t see it changing. He took the opportunity to mention that he’d been looking at other teams’ non-conference schedules prior to the news conference.
“Wow,” he said. “I think we certainly don’t have to apologize for ours.”
He declined an invitation to name names. There are five other teams besides Tech in the ACC that play two power-conference teams (or Notre Dame) - Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Perhaps the most egregious scheduler in the conference is N.C. State: Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Boston College plays Notre Dame, but backs it up with two FCS schools, Howard and Maine, and Northern Illinois.
6. Johnson’s impression thus far of the team’s chemistry:
“There hasn’t really been any negative things happen or adversity or controversy. About the biggest adversity is maybe me yelling at ’em. You’ll find that out as the season goes along, as you get into it. As a general rule, I’ve said before, I think we’ve got good kids and I think they genuinely like each other to begin with. They’re pretty accountable. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t last here. They wouldn’t make it long. Overall, it’s a good group. Now, when the adversity strikes during a game or who’s going to step up and be the leaders, we’ll see. That’s when you find out.”