ACC Title Road: Tigers will wrap up league play on the road against Georgia Tech

Paul Johnson has QB options in speedster Justin Thomas, power runner Timmy Byerly

Football  - Quandon Christian pressures Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Quandon Christian pressures Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas

Editor's Note: Clemson will conclude its ACC regular season schedule on November 15 against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Yellow Jackets' coach Paul Johnson talked about spring practice and some of personnel issues going into fall camp in the following interview.

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson

On spring practice: "We concluded our spring practice in a monsoon. Other than that I think the spring went well. We got a lot accomplished, got a lot done. We had a chance to get back to basics, work on fundamental stuff, get a lot of reps for a lot of guys.

"We're looking forward to the upcoming season, hoping to have a great summer, and get back in fall camp ready to go."

On positions of emphasis during the off-season: "There wasn't really a position that we didn't want to look at. We lost several key players. I think on the defensive line, we lost three starters. That was a key position.

"I think we came out of it feeling okay. We moved Jabari Hunt Days from linebacker to end. Shawn Greene is a guy who had been injured some. He went all through spring without missing. Adam (Gotsis) returns in there. KeShun Freeman is a young freshman that came in midyear that we think has a chance to help us. Tyler Stargel at end had a pretty good year. The defensive line was one area, but I think we have that answered.

"Of course, at quarterback, Justin Thomas and Timmy Byerly really competed during the spring for that position. I think both of them got a lot better. Most of the other spots, we had to replace some offensive linemen, but we've got a group who started several games in there. They had a decent spring. All in all, we were pleased with what we had."

On the quarterback competition: "I think they made a lot of progress in the spring. Clearly Justin Thomas is a guy with great speed and good quickness. Byerly I thought really got better this spring. He improved with his understanding of the offense. The more reps he got, the better he got. He's a tough guy. A hard inside runner. Both those guys can throw the ball as good or better than anybody we've had...

"Justin was the Alabama state 100 meter champ from high school. He's probably the fastest guy we had at that position. If my memory serves me correct, Timmy was the high school player of the year his senior year when his team won the state championship. They're both great athletes and they're going to be able to do what we ask them to do (in the running game).

On the keys to defensive improvement: "I think we made some strides a year ago to get better. We've just got to be more consistent. We gave up a ton of big plays last year in the games that we didn't play as well.

"We changed gears. When we looked at it after the season was over, our nickel defense was more of our base defense. We kind of switched around and made that our base defense. In the spring, we played a lot of 4 2 5. That's a little bit of a change. Get another safety out there, one less linebacker.

"All in all, I think our guys played hard this spring. Like in any defense, we have to be able to generate a pass rush. I'm optimistic about how our defense will play this year."

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