Justin Thomas #5 QB reads the defense then signals a play change

ATLANTA, GA - Sparked by a strong second half from Justin Thomas and DeAndre Smelter the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-0) pulled away late for a 38-19 victory over the Wofford Terriers Saturday afternoon. "It was a game of two halves," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. "I was happy to see Justin, after the first half, settle down and hit some big plays in the passing game".

Thomas, who was a perfect 8 for 8 passing in the 2nd half, threw two touchdown passes to Smelter on back-to-back possessions to give the Yellow Jackets a 24-12 lead late in the 3rd quarter. Following a touchdown drive by Wofford to cut the lead to 24-19 early in the fourth quarter, Thomas led Georgia Tech back downfield for a touchdown less than two minutes later, a drive highlighted by a 65-yard pitch to Broderick Snoddy that was deemed a forward pass. One play later Zach Laskey punched it in for an 11-yard dive to the endzone.

Smelter posted a career-best 132 yards receiving, including a career-long 71-yard...

Q: So how are things going year 1 to year 2 with Coach Roof and Coach Pelton?

A: It's going good. We're getting better. We've learned the system now like the back of our hand. That's always good to go out there and play fast.

Q: There's a lot of conversation about the defensive line this year, especially with all of the offseason departures due to graduation, Jerry going to the NFL, and all those guys in camp. What do you expect out of your own personal performance and that of the defensive line this year?

A: I expect to go out there and give 110% and play every down like it's my last. With losing all those players it's time for somebody else to step up. It could be anybody on the D-Line. When a star leaves another star is born. We're doing good, we're progressing, and we're getting better every day. We're going out there working hard with Coach Pelton. All we've got to do is stay focused and get ready for the season.

Q: Is there much difference for you on the line in the 4-2-5 vs. the 4-3 or is it pretty much the same scheme?

A: It's pretty much the same. There isn't really too much difference for a defensive lineman in that scheme. There isn't much more to it than taking a line[man] out.

Q: Francis just mentioned you're getting a little more aggressive and a little more up-tempo this year. Is there anything schematically that you all are doing differently or is it just more familiarity with the scheme in general?

A: We're just got familiar with the scheme. When you're familiar with the scheme you can just go out there and play fast. If you're not familiar with the scheme you're not going to play fast. Now that we're in the second year with Coach Roof and Coach Pelton, this is familiar. So now we just got to go out there and play aggressive. It's a game of football and it's about physicality.

Q: Last year coming into camp the offensive line was banged up a little bit. This year they have 3 or 4 lines coming at you all. Do you see a big difference in their performance so far?

A: Oh yea. They have a lot of depth now. When a player goes down another one can step up and play. And that's good for us that they have 3 lines that can come at us every time. They're fresh and we're down. They can get us mentally stronger. For them I can just see them getting better every day just watching them play. The young guys are getting better and the old guys just keep progressing.

Q: What have you seen so far out of Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly so far in camp?

A: Oh, I love my quarterbacks man. I love my quarterbacks. They're going to do some big things this year and surprise some people. I can feel that. I like them a lot, they're getting better, and all we've got to do is keep working.

Q: Last question for you - Last night/late-breaking news there was a ruling in the Ed O'Bannon and NCAA case. Have you heard anything about that or has there been any chatter on the team in terms of what that means for student athletes, and especially for football players at big-time schools?

A: What is it called?

Q: The Ed O'Bannon case.

A: I don't even know what that is.

Q: How are things going so far in camp?

A: They're going good. I'm just working my butt off. Just trying to make everything positive and give it 100%.

Q: There's a lot of interest in the D-Line especially with all of the departures in the offseason. Everyone is expected you to have a big role this year. What are your expectations going into the year?

A: My expectations are to give 100% on the field, do my job, and win games.

Q: What kind of differences have there been from year 1 to year 2 with Ted Roof and Coach Pelton?

A: There's been big differences in the defense's mentality. It's more fierce now, it's more aggressive, and we're just rising up to the occasion.

Q: It looked like today you spent a lot more time in the 4-3 as opposed to the 4-2-5. Is that true just because you're playing our offense?

A: Yes, basically we're just playing against what we have in front of us. If it's the triple option we'll switch up our defensive play.

Q: How much have you leaned on Adam Gotsis? Has he been a good leader for you all?

A: Yea, he has. He has helped me tremendously to get better. Obviously being from another country it's been a good connection.

Q: How much prep have you done for other teams so far? Have you just been focused on fundamentals at this point?

A: Yea, we've been going through a lot of stuff and making sure we know what we have [going into] the season. We've practiced against the triple option and [prepared] for what we'll see this season.

Q: What are you weighing now?

A: 292