Soundbites and notes from Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson's news conference Tuesday morning:
1. Johnson on Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason: “I think he fits into their offense and what they’re trying to do very well. He’s a smart kid. He gets ’em in the right plays. He completes a high percentage of his throws and can move the chains and he’s an experienced guy, even though he hasn’t played a lot. He’s been in the program for a long time.”
2. On running back Nick Chubb: “Take nothing away from Todd Gurley, because he was a really good player. (But) you’d be hard pressed to pick between the two if you watch them play. … I think the offensive line probably doesn’t get as much credit as they should, maybe because the backs are so talented. But if you watch the tape, a lot of times, they’re already in the second level before anybody touches ’em.”
Johnson responded to a variety of questions about the rivalry and its place.
3. “Like any rivalry game, it’s bragging rights, and I think it’s clear there’s a lot of the fan bases that don’t like each other. I think that for us, it kind of adds a little bit to being ACC-SEC because we sit right here in the middle of the SEC and that’s all we hear all the time.”
Johnson has been steadfast in his perspective on the game that it is important, but not all-defining. The team puts the ACC championship ahead of the Georgia game.
“We get it that it’s important game,” he said. “I also get that it that it’s not going to destroy the year or make the year if you win or lose the game. It’s one game. They’re not in our league. And while it’s a goal for us every year to try to win the state championship and beat them, if somebody else wants to define that as the be-all, end-all, so be it. I don’t think Georgia would define it as the be-all, end-all, either. You’d have to ask them. They’ve had a lot more success in the game than Tech has, but I would think, if you ask them, would they rather win the SEC or beat Georgia Tech, I have a pretty good idea what the answer would be.”
4. That said, he acknowledged that losing to Georgia last year in double overtime after being up 20-0 in the second quarter, “maybe it stings more because it’s them, but it bothered me regardless of who it was.”
5. “Nobody wants to take (guff) at the water cooler. That’s the bottom line. You want to have bragging rights. If you beat Florida State in the ACC championship game, odds are you don’t run into their alumni every day, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to win that game.”
6. Johnson challenged a couple questions, including one about the team's ability to finish and win games this year that perhaps it hadn't in the past.
"I would probably take issue with that, quite honestly," Johnson said. "Everybody wants to come across like this season is so different from the other seasons. We won seven and eight games the last few years. It's not like we won four games. We've won a couple more games this year, but I'm pretty proud of the whole body of work."
To another question suggesting that the Jackets have a chance to have a special season, Johnson interjected, "I think they've already had a special season. It could get better."