ATLANTA — Paul Johnson isn’t spending much time savoring Georgia Tech’s first win at Florida State in seven tries.
There’s a bigger game for Johnson’s No. 19 Yellow Jackets ahead.
The Yellow Jackets can boost their Atlantic Coast Conference championship hopes this week when they face No. 4 Virginia Tech. That’s much more important to Johnson than ending a history of frustration in Tallahassee that belonged to other coaches.
Johnson, after all, is 2-0 against Florida State, with a win in Atlanta last season before Saturday night’s 49-44 victory in Tallahassee.
"I mean, it’s the first time we’ve been there to play," Johnson said Sunday. "I think anytime you beat a team with that tradition and history, it’s a good win, but I’m not going to take credit for all those other games. I wasn’t here."
Georgia Tech (5-1 overall, 3-1 ACC) trails Virginia Tech (5-1, 3-0) in the ACC’s Coastal Division. It’s only mid-October, but Johnson acknowledged this already is "pretty much" a must-win game for his team, which can’t afford a second conference loss.
"We’re excited about having a team of their caliber coming to our place to play, certainly," he said. "It’s not often you get a top-five team coming to your place to play. It’s a huge challenge."
Georgia Tech had to wait a long time for its first win at Florida State. The wait seemed even longer after officials stopped play for 78 minutes on Saturday night due to lightning in the area.
Then the Yellow Jackets had to survive a shootout with the Seminoles. There was only one punt, by Florida State, in the game.
It was the fourth time in six games the Yellow Jackets have given up 27 or more points.
"There are games you’re going to win like that and there may be some games you have to win 10-7," Johnson said. "We did enough to win the game. Do we have some areas we can play better? Certainly, and we’ve got to address those and try to play better over there."
Johnson said one change will be fewer defensive substitutions by groups.
"We’ve got to get away from the personnel groups," he said. "It’s like guys are running on and off and on and off. It’s not like it’s working. It’s not like we’re shutting anybody out."
Johnson said Virginia Tech’s defense plays with the speed and confidence he’s looking for from Georgia Tech.
"What I want is to find something where our guys can play fast," he said. "You watch Virginia Tech play defense, those jokers are playing fast, now, and they’re playing physical. There’s not anybody standing around looking trying to figure out what’s going on, I can assure you of that. They know what they’re supposed to be doing. That’s where we need to get."
Georgia Tech survived in Tallahassee by rushing for 401 yards, including 140 yards and three touchdowns by quarterback Josh Nesbitt.
Nesbitt said the players were motivated by the goal to take the program’s first win in Tallahassee.
"We go down in the history books," Nesbitt said. "One thing we said to ourselves coming in, ‘Let’s make history.’ We tried not to worry about everything we were hearing about Florida State. We didn’t want to get caught up in all their problems they had. We just came in and solved our problem."
Even while relishing the win, Nesbitt also was looking ahead to Virginia Tech, which beat Georgia Tech 20-17 last season.
"This game was big but next week is bigger," he said.
"We got a lot of confidence. We know last year we beat ourselves in that game. ... We’re going in thinking we’re the best team in the nation."