Thursday, August 28, 2008

Leadership Comes to Georgia Tech Football

“He has brought a whole new atmosphere to this team.”

--Jahi Word-Daniels, senior cornerback at Georgia Tech, commenting on what new coach Paul Johnson has brought to the team.

“It’s not just his offense; he teaches toughness, he shows a sense of pride, a sense of determination. The best way to do that is get involved, and he’s involved with his team.”

-- Mike Sewak, co-offensive line coach, who has known Johnson for 23 years.

Johnson was hired by Georgia Tech after he was 45-29 in six seasons at the U.S. Naval Academy. Navy went 2-10 in Johnson’s first year, but then compiled records of 8-5, 10-2, 8-4, 9-4, and 8-4.

Johnson has been successful for quite a long time. After winning two consecutive Division I-AA national championships at Georgia Southern in 1999 and 2000, Johnson was hired by Navy starting with the 2002 season. He inherited a program that was 1-20 in its previous two years.

In 2007, Navy beat Notre Dame for the first time in 43 seasons. Perhaps most importantly, Johnson was 11-1 against Army (6-0) and Air Force, the Naval Academy’s two biggest rivals.

“He is incredibly confident, the most confident coach I have been around, bordering on cocky.”

--Andrew Gardner, a senior left tackle.

Johnson has reason to be confident. To turn around the program, Johnson has brought a proven system to solve the team's mediocre performance problems.

“One of the things I saw here was a huge split; there were a lot of groups and niches on the team, it was dysfunctional. Certain guys probably didn’t talk to certain other guys. I talked to each player and asked why they were not more successful, and it was always somebody else’s fault.”

“There is no magic elixir. The thing we try to do is get good at what we do. We rep it. If their defense can get better at stopping it in one week of preparation than you can in running it for 19 weeks, they are going to beat you, anyway.

“The guys who have been successful for a long time, that’s what they do, stick to the system. You don’t change it every week. The guys that get in trouble sometimes run a little of this and little of that.”

--Paul Johnson.
On Thursday night, 8/28/2008, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets opened the 2008 season with a 41-14 win over Jacksonville State. The new Georgia Tech triple-option offense, much criticized before the season, was very effective as Georgia Tech ran for 349 yards and six touchdowns and produced 484 total yards.

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