The 2018 season has come and gone for the Yellow Jackets and it was a year to remember for the program.
2018 was a wild ride for the Yellow Jackets. They fell early into a giant hole, going 1-3 in their first four games dropping winnable games against USF and Pitt. Then something special happened. The Jackets rattled off six straight wins to end the season and become bowl eligible.
Following a tough loss to Clemson where it seemed like Tech had a chance if only in my mind to beat the vaunted Tigers, Bowling Green would be the win that stopped the bleeding. Now sitting at 2-3 and facing a critical road test at Louisville, Tech had not won a true road game since 2016, there were many questions that needed to be answered.
The questions were answered immediately as Georgia Tech would roll all over Louisville who was having a worse season than we were at that point, and well on their way to firing Bobby Petrino. That statement victory would be overshadowed the next week however as the Jackets would fumble away an opportunity against Duke.
The next game was in the hands of our new weapon Tobias Oliver in a Thursday night contest in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech. The most recent streak of wins against Virginia Tech would be verified as the Jackets would win for the 3rd straight time in Blacksburg behind a 215 yard and three touchdown night from Oliver.
Tech would go on to convincing wins against UNC and Miami with the defense stealing the show against the Hurricanes with three total turnovers. The Miami game is memorable in particular for the final drive that milked the final 6:43 off of the game clock in a patented Paul Johnson death march. The win would also make Georgia Tech bowl eligible which after a 1-3 start to the season seemed improbable to many fans.
The final home game of the season was a thrilling game with eight lead changes that ended in OT with the walk on Wesley Wells hitting what would be the game-winning field goal for the Jackets. The play of the game, however, had to be the safety caused by Brant Mitchell on the sack in the end zone on Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins. This would leave the Jackets in second place in the Coastal Division race trailing by one game to Pittsburgh which made that early season loss sting all the more.
The annual edition of Clean Old-Fashioned Hate came and went without much of a fight put up by the Jackets as UGA would pound Tech, seemingly scoring at will. The highlight of this game was the kick return touchdown by Junyeah Thomas, who promises to be an electric return man for the Jackets in the future.
After that ugly loss to UGA and Paul Johnson announcing that he would be stepping aside as head coach, there was a shadow that was cast over the entire program. Would we stay with the option and hire a Johnson protegé? Would we hire someone who ran an air raid style offense? No one had any answers. After a week of rumor and speculation including the fan base simultaneously declaring they would not stand for Ken Whisenhunt as the only option, Georgia Tech found their man in Geoff Collins.
Collins who has promised to run “an NFL type of experience” for his athletes, has boosted the morale of the program in a way that many didn’t think was possible. Following the Collins hire, the only thing left was to send Coach Johnson off in style at the Quick Lane Bowl. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as happily as we all wanted it to as Minnesota had all the answers for Georgia Tech in Detroit. With that loss ended the 2018 season which was one of the more interesting that Georgia Tech has seen in several seasons.
Overall, 2018 signaled an end of an era at Georgia Tech with the retirement of Paul Johnson and the replacement of his vaunted offense. Only time will tell what the future has in store for Georgia Tech but no matter what happens in 2019 Coach Collins has already ignited a spark for a program that needed one badly.