Johnson not worried about opponents’ off weeks before facing Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season.
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets are looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season. AP

Miami will be the latest team to play Georgia Tech following an off week. That gives Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson another chance to answer the popular question: Does that give the opponent an advantage in preparing for the option?

“I think it makes a difference no matter who you play,” Johnson said. “You get a chance to get people back healthy and you have extra time to prepare. But, you know, that still doesn’t keep us from playing the way we can play. You’d have to ask (Miami head coach Mark Richt), but certainly I know when we have a week off before we play somebody, I think it helps.”

Richt followed Johnson’s line of thought and agreed.

“It helps I think to have time to prepare for anybody,” Richt said. “If it was a one-game season, that would be great, but we’ve got another eight conference games to go in a row. But when you’re preparing to play their offensive system, it does help, I think.”

Johnson also joked, “I think that’s a rule in our league. I think everybody takes a week off before they play us.”

Johnson actually has picked up on a trend and isn’t just spouting a conspiracy theory. Miami will be one of three ACC opponents to have the week off before playing the Yellow Jackets. Duke is off the week before it plays Georgia Tech on Oct. 28 and North Carolina is off the week before it plays the Yellow Jackets on Nov. 5.

Johnson praises Kaaya: Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya is one of the most effective passers in the ACC. The junior has thrown for 693 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He has 49 career touchdown passes, tied for third in program history.

“He’s probably the best guy in the league at throwing the deep ball,” Johnson said.

Kaaya was on the preseason watch lists for eight major honors, including the Davey O’Brien Award and Maxwell Award. He already ranks fifth in Miami history with 7,130 passing yards. He has thrown for 200 or more yards in 20 of his 28 career games and has eight 300-yard games.

“I think he’s as good as any quarterback in the league,” Johnson said. “He’s been a good player for them for a while. He’s certainly got my respect and our respect as a football team. We don’t have any double he can play the game.”

Kaaya has thrown to 11 different receivers this year. Stacy Coley (11 catches, three touchdowns) and freshman Ahmmon Richards (nine catches, 22.6 yard average, one touchdown) are his most popular options.

“They’ve always got plenty of athletes and plenty of speed,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to mix the coverage, not let them get a bead on you and try not to put those guys (secondary) on an island all the time.”

Milestone for Richt: Richt, Georgia’s former head coach, will celebrate his 200th game as a head coach Saturday. He’s not making a big deal out of returning to Atlanta, even though he has never lost there as a head coach.

“I’ve been there when I was at Florida State coaching, I’ve been there when I was at Georgia. Now I’m going there when I’m at Miami. It’s not that weird,” he said. “I guess I’m used to it.”

Georgians with Miami: There are five Georgia players on the Miami roster — quarterback Evan Shirreffs of Jefferson, tight end Christopher Herndon IV of Norcross, defensive back Tyler Murphy of Peachtree Ridge in Lawrenceville, fullback Marquez Williams of Clarke Central and offensive lineman Jacob Munoz of Atlanta’s Mount Vernon.