Why Paul Johnson Refuses To Change

I’ve never made any secret of my opinion that Paul Johnson is the best play caller in America, and that his offense is much more complex than people realize or give him credit for. Georgia Tech took it to the defending champs in the ACC Championship Game, nearly pulling off the upset, and proceeded to demolish heavily-favored Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl using an offense that most people believe belongs in a museum.

The next time you watch a Tech game, take a close look at the sideline shots the camera shows of Coach Johnson. Do you see any call sheet in his hand? Not likely, since he calls the game off the top of his head.


If anyone can do it, Johnson can. He’s been running this offense for the past three decades, and during that time has seen just about every possible wrinkle defensive coordinators can throw at him. It’s a big reason why I was really eager to dive into the DVD that you can get here titled simply “Paul Johnson: Triple Option Offense.”

I’ve never coached in Johnson’s system or any similar offense, and have no plans to return to coaching anytime soon, so it was pure curiosity which got me to purchase the DVD. Here are a couple of things that stood out to me.

“You have to do what you know”

The quote that stuck out to me the most is during the question and answer session of the video, a coach asked Johnson if he thought this kind of system could be run at the high school level. His answer was that it could be as simple or as complex as you wanted it to be, and that the main reason he’s stuck with it all these years is that he knows the ins and outs of the scheme.

“You have to do what you know, and what you can fix,” he said.

What followed was a short lecture on his offensive philosophy, and why it’s important to stick with what you know in all areas of the game. Johnson is not against change and innovation, but what he’s not going to do is stick a bunch of new plays in the game plan because they looked good on television when someone else was running them.

For example, his younger coaches have a habit of bringing him new ideas that may or may not fit with what they’re already doing on offense. Instead of shooting down the idea right away, however, he’ll often get them to go up to the board and draw up the play. Then come the questions. “What happens if they do this, and what happens if they do this? If they can’t answer,” Johnson quips, “I send them back to their office.”

This approach is great for two reasons. First of all, Johnson doesn’t want to get in the habit of adding new things just because they look good on TV. He’s not running a bunch of plays, he’s running an offense. If one thing doesn’t work, he has several different plays to go to that are designed to attack what the defense is doing. However, just as important, by not immediately shutting down any suggestions, he keeps his staff involved and doesn’t discourage new ideas and input from staff members.

The bottom line is that Johnson has answers for anything that you can throw at him, and that can be just as dangerous as having a roster full of four and five-star recruits.


This is a great addition to your video library, especially if you’re like me and are curious about exactly how Paul Johnson coaches up his guys. This is video taken from a Nike Coach of the Year Clinic session, and contains as much detail as a team installation video.

Johnson goes through all areas of the triple option, the major wrinkles off of it, as well as some of his favorite playaction pass plays. He talks about the blocking scheme against every common defensive front, including over, under, odd, and 3-3 stack fronts.

In the clip below, Johnson talks about some of the specifics of blocking the front side of the triple option play. He also goes through a couple of cutups of the play that was drawn up on the projector just moments before.

In short, I highly recommend this video to anyone looking to learn more about the Georgia Tech offense.

You can get your hands on a copy of the video by clicking here.

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