December 28, 2009

Jackets get back to work

After a brief holiday break, the Georgia Tech football returned to the practice fields in chilly conditions in Atlanta Monday afternoon. Head coach Paul Johnson said the combination of the weather and the time off made for an interesting practice.

"It was quite a show today in practice," Johnson said. "It was a little chilly today and probably will be the rest of the week. There are always effects [from layoffs]. We just have to get back into the rhythm. You could tell there has been a layoff."

Freshman wide receiver Stephen Hill was shivering when he got off the practice field.

"Cold is not the definition of what is was today. Freezing would be the word for that," Hill said. "It is not hard to catch the ball when it is cold like this, but you do have to concentrate a little more and it does hurt your hands when you catch it."

Johnson says the team is close to being ready for the Orange Bowl with a few practices remaining before the game on Jan. 5.

"We are just trying to get ready for Miami. We are working on playing fast and getting our pads down. Those are the things you have to do when you are playing a game," Johnson said. "When we get down there we are going to practice every day. You have functions and it will be a lot of work. Hopefully you can mix some fun in with it."

When asked if he was worried about distractions playing in Miami, Johnson said the players understand the importance of the game to the program.

"Anytime you can play in a bowl game it is a positive and a reward. You also understand you are playing a football game against a very good opponent, so there is a lot of work involved."

Looking at the Iowa game, Johnson says he has been impressed with what he has seen from the Hawkeye defense.

"They have good players not just their guys up front. They have good players everywhere," he said. "Their linebackers are good; the defensive line is certainly good. They got a bunch of interceptions. They got a good team with a good scheme and they know what they are doing."

When asked to compare the relative speed and sized of Iowa to other ACC and SEC teams the Jackets have faced, Johnson said they look similar and he does not see a major difference.

"They got guys who are big that can run like everybody else," he said. "Sometimes those guys are bigger, but I don't think they are any bigger than any of the other kids we played. They are just good football players."

Thoughts on Clemson game

After practice Monday, coach Johnson was asked to compare Georgia Tech's defensive performance against the Clemson Tigers to Kentucky's in the Music City Bowl Sunday night. The Wildcats held Clemson to 17 points compared to the 27 and 34 points Clemson scored on Tech this year.

"I thought it was two different games. Kentucky probably played them a little better on defense than we did," he said. "You could say that a lot of the time here, but we won and Kentucky didn't. That's all I can say about that."

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