Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech farewell contest did not go as planned as the Minnesota Golden Gophers stole the spotlight during their 34-10 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Gophers Take Quick Lane Bowl
Not Even Close
The Yellow Jackets entered this game favored to walk away with a win in the fifth annual Quick Lane Bowl. No one told P.J. Fleck and the Gophers that detail. The Gophers hit the ground running and never looked back. And if you have not heard of Mohamed Ibrahim, you have now. The freshman running back ran the ball 31 times for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Those figures were more than enough for Ibrahim to walk away with most valuable player honors.
— Minnesota Football (@GopherFootball) December 27, 2018
Another freshman, quarterback Tanner Morgan, was impressive against the Yellow Jackets. Morgan only attempted 13 passes, but threw for two touchdowns and 132 yards. Why throw it when you can just hand the ball off to Ibrahim. Tyler Johnson was the recipient of both Morgan touchdown passes. With those two touchdown receptions, Johnson owns a new Minnesota football record with 12 receiving touchdowns in a single season. Johnson has NFL talent to spare and has, most likely, played his final game in a Gopher’s uniform.
The entire Gophers defense was playing for the MVP trophy. The Yellow Jackets entered the halftime break with 69 total yards and three points. At the end of regulation, the Gophers had held Paul Johnson’s triple-option offense to 283 total yards. Even more surprising, the Yellow Jackets only gained 206 yards on the ground. That is 129 yards shy of their season average. Kudos to the entire Golden Gophers defense.
What Went Wrong?
The numbers for both teams represented in the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl are not worlds apart. There are not several key figures where the Gophers just dominated that would support the final score.
Time of possession was almost exactly the same – Georgia Tech 29:17; Minnesota 30:43. Penalties were are almost exactly the same – Georgia Tech three penalties for 30 yards; Minnesota four penalties for 30 yards. Georgia Tech had one turnover with 52 seconds left in the game. Minnesota produced zero turnovers on the night.
The one stat that sticks out is third-down efficiency. Minnesota converted on 70 percent of third down plays on Wednesday night! Georgia Tech converted 29 percent of third down plays. Minnesota was able to prolong drives and put points on the board. Georgia Tech was only able to add to their time of possession late in the game when victory was a foregone conclusion.
Minnesota was simply the better team on Wednesday night.
See You Next Year
Minnesota will bring back several talented freshmen on the offensive side of the ball. If Tyler Johnson declares for the NFL draft, that will hurt. But that is the nature of college football. But as the nation saw in Detroit, Mohamed Ibrahim and Tanner Morgan plan to make themselves heard in a big way in 2019. If Minnesota can somehow channel a teaspoon of P.J. Fleck’s energy, they will most likely make a run for the college football playoff next season.
As for the Yellow Jackets, one word – overhaul. Geoff Collins is stepping in to take over for the retired Paul Johnson and has already told all current staff to update their resumes and take off. The offense is losing the majority of their production from 2018 – TaQuon Marshall, Qua Searcy, Brad Stewart, Clinton Lynch, and Will Bryan are all gone. The defense will be on their third defensive coordinator in as many season in 2019. Lastly, the triple-option is hitting the bricks. Farewell you fickle beast! 2019 could be rough for the Yellow Jackets and Geoff Collins.