May 26, 2009

Johnson: We'll be even better

Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson doesn’t think anyone in the Atlantic Coast Conference is going to catch up to his spread option offense in just one season, or any time soon.

Johnson, who had used his unique offensive alignment for 11 years at Georgia Southern and Navy, brought it to Atlanta prior to last season and it helped put the Yellow Jackets in the ACC title hunt.

“It’s like any other offense,” Johnson said Tuesday night during the Georgia Tech spring caravan stop at The Farm, an event which attracted nearly 100 people. “It’s about execution. It’s the same offense we ran at Georgia Southern and we won the conference every year. We used it at Navy and played the same teams all the time and they never caught up with it.”

In 2008, Johnson’s first year at Tech, the Yellow Jackets led the ACC in total offense with 372.5 yards per game. They were first in rushing offense (273.2 yards per game), but 12th — or dead last — in passing offense.

So, even with a one-dimensional offense at his fingertips, Johnson guided Tech to within a victory over Virginia Tech of the league championship game. The Hokies won the regular-season matchup and relegated the Yellow Jackets to second place in the Coastal Division standings.

“We were very competitive in our first year,” said Johnson, who got in a round of golf at The Farm prior to the caravan activities later in the day. “Virginia Tech is always strong, Miami is very talented and North Carolina has a lot of guys back. Georgia Tech has a lot of guys back.

“Obviously, we lost the division title in a tiebreaker with Virginia Tech. It’s tough to get to the title game, but it’s doable.”

That’s the type of confidence Johnson, the ACC Coach of the Year, brought to the Yellow Jackets’ program when he became the school’s 12th head coach all-time in December 2007. He has a 116-43 career record in 12 combined seasons at Georgia Southern, Navy and Tech. The only coach to win more games in his first 12 seasons was Nebraska’s Tom Osborne. Johnson was 62-10 at Georgia Southern, 45-29 at Navy and 9-4 last year at Georgia Tech.

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