Paul Johnson: ‘Fewer Possessions Than They’re Used To’

If you missed the Georgia/Georgia Tech game this past Saturday, that’s unfortunate. Why? Because it may have been the best game of the weekend.

Five turnovers, a 99-yard fumble return, a fake field goal, a 53-yard field goal to force overtime, a blocked PAT and a game-ending interception in overtime.

Whoa.

“It was an exciting football game,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’ve been coaching 36 years, and it had to be one of the most fun games to watch with all the ebbs and flows and all the momentum shifts of any game I can remember.”

Georgia Tech’s Harrison Butker made arguably the most clutch kick of the football season – a career-long 53-yarder as time expired to force overtime.

“He can kick them farther than that,” Johnson said. “It was his career long because we haven’t tried any (longer than that). We’ve been pretty efficient offensively on third downs and we haven’t kicked a lot of field goals.”

With the win, No. 11 Georgia Tech improved to 10-2 (6-2). The Yellow Jackets won their first five games of the season, lost back-to-back games to Duke and North Carolina – by a combined 11 points – and have since won five straight.

They’ll face No. 4 Florida State (12-0, 8-0) in the ACC Championship this Saturday in Charlotte at 8 p.m. ET.

“We’ve had a really good year here,” Johnson said. “We’ve been here seven years and this is the third time we’ve played in the ACC Championship game. It’s not like we were bottomed out. People can cherry-pick statistics and make it look like (the way) you want to make it look. But we’ve gone to 17 or 18 straight bowl games (and had) 19 straight seasons of .500 or better in the league. This has been a really good year, but it wasn’t a big surprise to those of us who were here.”

While Georgia Tech is happy to be back in the ACC Championship, it will be without leading receiver DeAndre Smelter, who tore his ACL against Georgia. Smelter had 35 catches for 715 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

“DeAndre’s a great player, but it’s not going to change anything we do,” Johnson said. “We’ll go out and play the same way.”

That “way” involves running the ball down your throat. Georgia Tech was fourth in the nation in rushing yards, first in third-down conversions and in the top 10 in fourth-down conversions. It also led the ACC in total offense, rushing offense and scoring offense.

“It’s been a good offense for us for years because it’s different,” Johnson said. “People try to find a million reasons why it won’t work. It’ll be interesting. I think the team that can show up and execute the best and block and tackle and take care of the ball is the team that’s going to win.”

So is the team that gets off to a fast start. The Seminoles haven’t done that seemingly all season, but they may want to do so against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are simply not a team you want to play catch-up against.

“I think it’ll be a game of fewer possessions than they’re used to playing, especially if we get our way,” Johnson said. “But you got to get out in front for that to matter.”

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