Quick Lane Bowl Preview: Georgia Tech vs Minnesota

The 2018 football season for Georgia Tech will come to an end up in Detroit, Michigan today as they take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Quick Lane Bowl.

Obviously it seems as if Georgia Tech got the short end of the stick in the ACC bowl pecking order but that’s a completely different story. This team seems focused and determined to prove why they deserved to be in a higher bowl and send Paul Johnson off with a win.

TM and CPJ
http://www.dailyherald.com

This game is of course headlined by this being Paul Johnson’s last game, but this features two teams that are playing some good football heading into the bowl season. Minnesota is coming in winners of 2 of 3 games including a 37-15 beat down against Wisconsin in the final week of the regular season. Georgia Tech has won 6 of 8, but they did get beat in Athens in the final week.

Regardless, these two teams are both feeling good about themselves heading into this one.

Both teams have plenty to plenty to play for as Minnesota is looking to finish above .500 and Georgia Tech is looking for an 8 win season and to send Paul Johnson off into retirement with a win. I expect both teams to come out swinging and fighting til the very end.

Keys to Victory:

Win the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Hold on to the ball.

Do not lose Tyler Johnson

Numbers Never Lie:

GT ranks 1st(334.9 ypg) in the country in rushing yards while Minnesota ranks 75th(170.7ypg) in rushing yards allowed.

Minnesota ranks 118th in yard per a carry allowed(5.22 ypc).

Georgia Tech needs 428 rushing yards to break the school rushing yards per game record of 342.071ypg.

Beyond the Game:

This will be the first ever match-up between Georgia Tech and Minnesota.

A Georgia Tech win would give Paul Johnson 190 for his career.

This will be Georgia Tech’s starting safety, Mailik Rivera’s, final college game as he has already graduated as a triple major from Wofford and is in grad school at Georgia Tech.

Prediction:

There really is no telling how this game will go, Minnsota’s defense has tightened up since they changed defensive coordinators late in the season. Georgia Tech’s offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders. I hate predicting games, but i just do not see Georgia Tech losing this game.

A legendary coach can only go out with a win and this senior class deserves to go out with a bang too. I expect some eye popping numbers in this game and for Paul Johnson to pull a few tricks out of the hat. Give me the Jackets in this one as they will send Paul Johnson out with one more Gatorade bath.

Georgia Tech: 55      Minnesota: 30

By: Bret Anderson

Thank You Paul Johnson

CPJ.jpeg
Coach Paul Johnson (SBNation)

Wednesday afternoon, the great Paul Johnson decided to call it a career. Johnson was at the helm for now 11 seasons at Georgia Tech and has an 82-59 record. I say “has” because Paul Johnson will put the headset on one more time for the Jackets Bowl Game.

This decision comes as a surprise to many, but to some “fans” it was an answer to their prayers. Real Georgia Tech fans know that Paul Johnson changed the Georgia Tech program for the best. With a career full of challenges, taking the triple option to a power 5 school like Georgia Tech was the biggest of them all. Boy did he prove everybody wrong.

Nobody ever imagined this triple option team would be the one to end the streak against UGA.  It took him one try.

A triple option wide receiver getting drafted, no way. Paul Johnson had 3 receivers at Georgia Tech get drafted.

Oh yeah, he won ACC Coach of the Year his first year at GT. He also led the team to a top 25 finish in his first season.

How many attempts did it take for him to beat a top 5 team? Once (#4 Virginia Tech in 2009).

He won the ACC Title in his second season.

All of these accolades accumulated within his first two seasons running an “out of date offense” at a power 5 school. It was only the beginning of Paul Johnson establishing a new culture at Georgia Tech.

Before Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech was just another program that occasionally would have an 8-10 win season. Even with 4 National Championships in the history of this program, in the 52 years prior to hiring Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech had won eight games just ten times. Paul Johnson, with a bowl win this season, would have his 6th eight win season in his eleven years on the Flats.

As the years wore on, Paul Johnson’s critics grew, but that didn’t stop him. People began whispering about firing him as they felt that the peak had been reached by the triple option offense and Paul Johnson. Then the 2014 season and Justin Thomas happened. An 11-3 season that ended in an Orange Bowl victory on New Year’s Eve. A season that saw Georgia Tech beat their four most hated rivals (Miami, Clemson, UGA, VT). A season that nearly saw Georgia Tech knock off Florida State in the ACC Championship, who was in the midst of one of the more impressive winning streaks in NCAA history.

That season alone should be what Georgia Tech strives for each season. There is no reason why a New Years 6 Bowl and competing for the ACC crown, especially with the way the Coastal is right now.

Paul Johnson has laid the foundation for something special to be built here. He leaves behind a roster full of young talent and has installed a new norm at Georgia Tech.

For the past 11 years, Georgia Tech has been reeling under the radar recruits. Paul Johnson did not care about the stars next to players name on ESPN. If he saw something in you would get that offer. He year in and year out would develop players and as AD Todd Stansbury put it, “fighting above their weight class”.

Coach Johnson, from all of us fans here at Georgia Tech, we say thank you. You helped bring some of the greatest moments in Georgia Tech history such as the Miracles on North Avenue and Techwood Drive. You made sure every player not left a better football player but a better man. So good luck in retirement Coach but first, let’s go get this Bowl win.

By: Bret Anderson | @Bret_A27

 

 

A Message to Georgia Tech Fans… RELAX

Coming off back to back road losses to Pitt and South Florida to fall to 1-2, Georgia Tech fans are already writing off this year’s team. Fans are calling for Paul Johnson to be fired and taking to twitter to let out their frustrations. We ask for you to understand that this season is far from over.

Georgia Tech
ajc.com

Overreaction is a staple of being an Atlanta sports fan. Let’s face it, we have seen just about every single way to lose a big game, a division lead, or have had to suffer through dreadful seasons. Fans overreact because we have gotten to the point where we think the nearly impossible is almost likely to happen.

Georgia Tech no doubt has been snake bitten with luck. Now let me define what luck is. It isn’t when Qua Searcy leaps into the end zone for the game winning touchdown on a broken play. That is skill. However, when a ball bounces off two defenders heads and into a Miami receiver’s hands, who is falling down on a 4th and 10, that is luck. When the defense forces a fumble but it bounces right in the VT’s quarterback’s hands and he scoops it up and scores from 30 yards out? That is bad luck.

Let’s get away from all that now and time travel back to the good ole days of 2014. Georgia Tech is 6-0 coming off wins against Miami and at Virginia Tech. Up next on the schedule was Duke and @ North Carolina. The way the Jackets were playing, should have been 2 fairly easy wins, and they lost them both.

The team only had one loss after that, in the ACC Championship to the Jameis Winston led Florida State Seminoles. Three of the five ensuing wins were against ranked teams: #19 Clemson, #9 UGA, and #7 Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

The following season? This season was derailed by injuries and managed to lose six games by one possession. Still, in the midst of a 5 game losing streak, this struggling team played a near perfect game and knocked off the undefeated FSU Seminoles at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

In 2016, Georgia Tech started off 3-0 and then lost three straight, which they then followed by winning 6 out of their last 7 games. Then last season Georgia Tech lost 4 out of their last 5 games, but that one win was against #17 Virginia Tech.

All that may just be meaningless facts because all that matters is right now and the future. All I am saying is to just relax and let this season play out because we have seen in the past how Georgia Tech can rebound off a losing streak, whether it be just one big win or running the table the rest of the season. This team has very good senior leadership that can help right this ship.

Georgia Tech is not a bad team, bad teams do not out-gain their opponents. The problem with this team that they just can’t get out of their own way. There have been 4th quarter turnovers in each of the two losses that have completely swung the momentum. Georgia Tech also has a -3 turnover margin in the two losses. For this system to work, you have to be at least even in the turnover battle to give yourself the best chance at winning.

Just within the nature of the triple option the ball will hit the ground some, but the team has to limit it. They fumbled three times against Pitt. Luckily they only lost one of them, but you can’t move the ball up field when the ball is loose on the ground.

That sort of leads me into the next point. You can love him or hate him, but Paul Johnson’s system gives you a chance to win every game you play. For that to happen, the defense must do their part, and the offensive players must execute the blocking schemes, make the right reads and not turn the ball over.

During every win, you can say at least three of the four keys happened. During the losses, you can point to about just two of the four keys. That leads me to also saying, this system makes it that if you just come out flat and not ready, like the 2008 Gardner-Webb game, you can lose to anybody (GT won the game 10-7).

To sum everything up, don’t lose faith in this team just three games into the season. We have seen it before how the Yellow Jackets can rally. We have seen the triple option win big games that on paper, they shouldn’t have won. We have seen the defense make big plays in crunch time to help secure big wins.

The defense improved last week, but the offense was its old self in the second half. Once Georgia Tech can put the two phases together, it can be dangerous. The task at hand this weekend is #3 Clemson with perhaps the best defensive line of this decade. We have seen a slumping Tech team wake up and knock off ranked teams before. So on Saturday, show up and be loud cause this team needs you.

In the words of D-Mo, “WE ain’t Dead Yet!”

By: Bret Anderson- @Bret_A27

 

 

 

Top Moments Under Paul Johnson: #8

Paul Johnson’s first top 5 win at GT was an exciting one. It ended with fans bringing down the goalpost and an awesome “All the Way Turnt Up” hype video followed it. Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Virginia Tech the year before, the Jackets wanted revenge.

2009 Virginia Tech 23 @ Georgia Tech 28

Throughout this game there isn’t just one play that Georgia Tech fans remember as momentum builders, there are multiple. After re watching the game over the years, I believe I have narrowed it down to just one of the biggest plays of not just this game, but of Paul Johnson’s time at Georgia Tech.

The game was a defensive battle for the most part, as both teams had top notch defenses, and for Georgia Tech this was one of the better defense Paul Johnson had. The Jackets took a 7-3 lead into the locker room after Josh Nesbitt scored on a QB sneak with little time left in the half.

Early in the second half the Jackets took a 14-3 lead and had a chance to put the game away after forcing the Hokies to turn it over on downs.  An interception thrown by Nesbitt gave the Hokies the momentum and they then followed it with a touchdown on the first play.

Georgia Tech again had a chance to put the game away, this time up 21-10 with the ball inside Virginia Tech territory with just over 7 minutes left in the 4th. Josh Nesbitt coughed the ball up and then Virginia Tech drove down the field to score in just 6 plays(they failed on the 2 point conversion).

The Jackets got the ball back with 4:39 left lead 21-16. A score was a must because the Hokies had all the momentum. The drive started out with an incomplete pass by Nesbitt who had just one completion the whole night. On 2nd down, Anthony Allen took the toss around the ride side or 23 yards giving the Jackets a little momentum with a fresh set of downs.

The game came down to a 3rd and 7 at the Virginia Tech 39 with the Hokies out of timeouts. Nesbitt took the snap and it was an option play to the left. Nesbitt kept it and found  a gap and took off towards the sidelines and into the endzone. A beautifully executed play at the perfect time.

See the source image
zimbio.com

If Nesbitt doesn’t make that play, the Hokies very well could have stole that game. A stop on that play and the Hokies get the ball back with over 2 minutes left in the game down 5. Even though Tyrod Taylor had a rough night, giving a quarterback of his caliber the ball with the game on the line is not what Paul Johnson wanted to do. Nesbitt made up for his mistakes earlier and the game and was the hero. That run , despite all the crazy finishes the Jackets have had under Paul Johnson, may not be the best biggest play, but it is one that, looking back on, has cemented Paul Johnson’s legacy at Georgia Tech.

Stay tuned for number 7 next week!

By: Bret Anderson

 

Top 10 Moments under Paul Johnson: #10

Ever since Georgia Tech hired Paul Johnson way back before the 2008 season, the Georgia Tech football program has seen just about everything you can imagine. From ACC Champions in 2009 (later vacated) to winning just 3 games in 2015 in one of the most injury filled seasons I have ever seen. Regardless if you like Paul Johnson or not, if you look at the stats, his decade at the Flats has been one of the more decorated ones in recent Georgia Tech history.

Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to Gameday against Alcorn State, we will be counting the top 10 moments over the course of Paul Johnson’s ten years walking the sidelines at Grant Field.

10. Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech 2014

To kick things off with the countdown we are going to take a trip back in time to Blacksburg, Virginia during the incredible and dramatic finish filled season.
Georgia Tech vs Virginia Tech had usually been a Thursday night game but in 2014 it was a Saturday afternoon game, which was a blessing to us Georgia Tech fans because we know how cursed this team seems to be while playing weekday games.

Georgia Tech had not won in Blacksburg since 2006 and were looking to improve on their 3-0 record at the time. Virginia Tech came into the game at 2-1 after losing to Eastern Carolina the week before but toppled #8 Ohio State the week before that. The bad luck in Blacksburg and vs Virginia Tech in general (had won 6 of the last 7 against GT then) was seeming to continue.

Georgia Tech fell behind 13-3 in the second quarter after a Marshawn Williams TD run. Georgia Tech closed the gap to 16-10 at the half but they did let the Hokies drive down the field in 45 seconds before the half to add on a field goal to their lead.

After each team was held scoreless in the third, pure chaos ensued in the 4th quarter. Linebacker PJ Davis intercepted VT quarterback Michael Brewer and returned it for a touchdown to give the Jackets the lead and seemed to give the Jackets all the momentum. Yet, Virginia Tech had one more bag in their trick and, at the time, Georgia Tech fans were feeling like their team just find new ways to lose to the Hokies. Virginia Tech was driving in GT territory until Shai McKenzie coughed it up but the ball bounded straight to quarterback Michael Brewer who was just following the play and he ran it in for the touchdown.

Justin Thomas and Paul Johnson still got the last laugh. After converting what seemed to be a do or die 4th and 15, Justin Thomas led a fierce drive that was capped with a 31 yard Deandre Smelter Touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game to tie things up.

The Jackets defense still needed to get that stop to at least force OT, but DJ White had other plans. On the first play that VT had the ball to try to win it, Big Play DJ White came up with an acrobatic interception that I can still remember today how he broke off his coverage to intercept that pass.

Justin Thomas and crew had the ball at the VT 45 after a false start with 1:55 left. Again, Georgia Tech fans were thinking that they may have missed their chance as the Jackets faced a 3rd and 7 at the VT 37, but again Justin Thomas made a play as he threw a dart to DeAndre Smelter for 18 yards.

Georgia Tech got the ball down to the 7 yard line with 3 seconds left and the game was coming down to the foot of the Georgia Tech all-time leading scorer, Harrison Butker. Butker sent the 24 yard FG through the uprights and a dog pile ensued on the field. As a GT fan it felt like a huge weight was off of our back but for this team it was a momentum building win that sparked an incredible 2014 run.

See the source image
zimbio.com

Honorable Mention

Throughout this series I will include an Honorable Mention at the end of a couple of the articles of moments/games that didn’t quite make my cut.

This moment took 4,000 miles away in Ireland. Georgia Tech and Boston College met up for an opening weekend showdown in Dublin, Ireland in 2016. A defense filled game between two teams coming off extremely unlucky 2015 seasons that desperately needed a win to build confidence.

Georgia Tech trailed late, 14-10, but the Jackets were driving against a top tier Boston College defense. After converting a 3rd and 10, the Jackets continued to drive deep inside Boston College territory and eventually found themselves at the 4 yard line. Paul Johnson trusted his true Freshman B-back with the game. Mills took the B-Back pitch from senior Justin Thomas and lowered his shoulder into a Boston College linebacker and powered his way into the endzone which proved to be the game winner after the GT defense forced a fumble on BC’s ensuing possession.

See the source image
espn.com

This game was a huge momentum builder for the Jackets which proved to be a nice bounce back season for Paul Johnson and crew.

Tune in next for when we release moment number 9 under Paul Johnson!

Bret Anderson: @Bret_A27

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