When Georgia Tech lost their third ACC game of the year to Clemson on October 6, 2012 dropping to 1 and 3 in the Coastal Division, the real concern was whether they would wind up in the cellar of the conference when the season was over. After beating the Duke Blue Devils 42 to 24 on senior/military appreciation day to not only become bowl eligible, but wind up in first place with an opportunity to play FSU in the ACC Championship Game on December 1, 2012, this might rank as the best come back season for any Yellow Jacket squad that I can remember.
Congratulations go out to Coach Paul Johnson and this team for playing hard and digging down deep to launch such a remarkable comeback when they were literally left for road kill after losing at Clemson 47 to 31. For all of the abuse he has taken this season and last, it was great to see Tevin Washington not only break the all time ACC record for rushing TD’s by a quarterback that was previously held ironically by Joshua Nesbitt from Tech, but also have probably his best game ever by throwing for 3 TD’s. Congratulations Tevin and keep up the excellent play for the remainder of the 2012 football season.
The defense played pretty well in this game other than a busted coverage on the first Blue Devil drive resulting in a twenty-four yard pass for a touchdown. But what I really liked best was there was actually some pressure in this game on the quarterback. True freshman DT Adam Gotsis fought off a triple team from his NG position early in the 1st quarter to get the first GT sack of the day. The Yellow Jackets had 4 QB sacks on the afternoon and hit the Duke signal caller several other times to keep him from getting into a rhythm. For the game he only threw for 198 yards on 24/36 passing and was intercepted on his last offensive possession by redshirt freshman Jamal Golden to thwart the Blue Devils final drive.
This was such a big game for the team as they needed to win this one to become bowl eligible and keep that streak intact. As part of that process you occasionally need a break or two to go your way and one of the most important plays of the day for several reasons was the pass completion from Tevin intended for WR Chris Jackson that resulted in a ricochet off his chest as he was hit by a Blue Devil defender. Amazingly it fell into the hands of left tackle Ray Beno who had pulled from the line of scrimmage to make a block on the Blue Devil DB. To his credit he was not only able to hold onto the pass, but rumbled nine big yards on a 3rd down and 7 to get a first down and keep the drive going.
That was the opening drive of the 3rd quarter and it concluded with a beautiful TD pass to Zach Laskey to increase the Yellow Jacket lead to 28 to 17. That scoring play never would have happened had Ray Beno not been able to maintain his balance after being hit by a Duke defender and getting those nine yards as opposed to falling down after gaining two. Anything less would have resulted in a Yellow Jackets punt and give the Blue Devils an opportunity to grab the lead with a score of their own and change the whole momentum of the game. These are the little things that have been missing this entire season and to actually see a player make a huge play in crunch time was very satisfying.
But more than that, what it also did was energize the entire GT bench in a way that cannot be described, easily explained, or even understood by anyone other than a player. It is just one of those strange football plays that impact’s an entire team with an aura of believing that they will find a way to win the game by making every type of play necessary and even those unimaginable to get it done no matter what the circumstances. That was a very significant event for this squad and the first time all season that I saw the entire GT bench fired up and maintain that energy level for the full game. That bodes well for the remainder of this season regardless of what happens with the Duke/Miami matchup.
Georgia Tech ran off 86 plays in this game for 449 yards including 330 on the ground. They also controlled the clock with time of possession more than 38 minutes. When this offense can do that it usually results in a win. A big chunk of that came right after Duke scored their final touchdown of the day to cut the lead to 28 to 24. That’s when the offensive line took it upon their shoulders and began an 18 play 75 yard drive that concluded with Tevin hitting Robert Godhigh on an 8 yard pass for a TD on a crossing route. The Yellow Jackets took over 8 1/2 minutes off the game clock on that long TD drive alone and you could see that it just sapped the will of the Blue Devils for the rest of the game.
So after playing their second consecutive game against an opponent coming off a two week-bye going into the contest against this high school offense, perhaps it’s time to end the talk of; you can stop this offense when you have sufficient time to prepare for it. If it doesn’t then the answer is to just keep piling up the yardage, winning games, and then it becomes nothing more than a silly discussion.
This was a big win for the program as the youth on this team along with the extra practice time a bowl game affords in the progression of their development cannot be over emphasized. Given all of the disappointment that started in Blacksburg with that OT loss, followed up with a similar result a few weeks later to Miami it was not easy for anyone to keep a positive attitude. Add in the loss to MTSU, the firing of the DC, and the mass media reports of doom and gloom were very hard to ignore. While the team did play very hard in a loss at Clemson, it was probably the perfect time for a bye in the schedule that allowed for some time to get away and regroup especially for the team and coaches.
Now it’s time for the next chapter in Clean Old Fashioned Hate. The dawgs are probably going to be # 3 in the polls this coming week right behind Notre Dame and Alabama who they will play in the SEC Championship Game in two weeks. After that who knows? But here is what I do know; the Yellow Jackets are going into this game with some momentum and a belief that they have a chance to defeat UGA. A few weeks ago this game looked to be nothing more than a warm up for the SEC Championship. Frankly, my hunch is that as good as they are playing right now UGA is a lot more concerned about this game than they were back in October.
Perhaps both of the Georgia schools will be playing for conference championships the week following COFH. As long as the Yellow Jackets keep playing with the type of effort that they have displayed in the past three games, there is a very good opportunity to win this game. That is all any fan can ask for; that their team plays hard and gives themselves a chance to win a football game. On a day when the # 1 and # 2 teams in the country both lost, it is very satisfying to be able to win a game and that makes next week’s game that much bigger. Go Jackets! BTW; Thank You Tevin!