Chan Gailey had just been fired. Hired as his replacement was former-Navy Head Coach, Paul Johnson. Coming to Georgia Tech, he brought his unique flexbone offense. Various reporters questioned whether it could or would work at this level of football.
With the announcement of the hire, the starting quarterback from the previous year, Taylor Bennett, announced he would be transferring to Louisiana Tech, thus creating a position battle between Jaybo Shaw and some guy named Josh Nesbitt.
Needless to say, nobody expected a whole lot out of Tech that season. Boy were they in for a big surprise.
Nesbitt ultimately won the starting quarterback job and the team was off. The first game came against Jacksonville State. Jonathan Dwyer led Tech's rushing attack with 113 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 41-14 victory.
Tech followed with a 19-16 victory over Boston College and a 17-20 loss to Virginia Tech. Then, Tech got their first crack at a Bulldogs team, this one of the Mississippi State variety.
Nesbitt got hurt during the game, forcing Johnson to play true freshman Jaybo Shaw. The defense allowed over 400 yards to the Dogs, but were still able to come out with a 38-7 victory.
Shaw would start the next week against Duke en route to a 27-0 victory over the Blue Devils. In the win, Tech showed some balance with Shaw passing for 230 yards and a touchdown, all of which was directed at wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Meanwhile in Athens, Matt Stafford was looking to lead the dwags out to a 5-0 start, but Alabama stood in the way. The Tide rolled over (pun fully intended) the dwags, beating them 41-30.
Now, back to Tech. The next week, Johnson decided to rest his top two quarterbacks, Nesbitt and Shaw, giving Calvin Booker the start against Gardner-Webb. This was easily Tech's worst offensive performance that season, and very well one of the worst of all time, but it gave Tech their second victory over the Dogs. This time, it was a 10-7 victory over the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Nesbitt thankfully came back the next week against Clemson to face new head coach Dabo Swinney in his first game after the firing of Tommy Bowden. Tech forced six turnovers en route to a 21-17 victory over the Tigers, giving them a 6-1 record.
The Jackets went 2-2 in their next two games against Virginia (L), Florida State (W), North Carolina (L) and Miami (W). This let Tech go into Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate with an 8-3 record to match up with uga's 9-2 record.
Georgia came into the game seven-point favorites at home, and for nearly the entire first half, it looked as though uga was going to continue their seven-game winning streak, going into halftime with a 28-12 lead.
And then, the third quarter came along.
This was one of my favorite quarters of football ever. I remember sitting on the couch in my living room watching and thoroughly enjoying it.
Blair Walsh kicked the ball out of bounds to begin the quarter, giving Tech the ball at their own 40. On the very first play, Jonathan Dwyer took it 60 yards for the touchdown. Tech went for two and got it. 28-20.
On uga's next drive, Tech's defense forced a three-and-out. Tech starts at their own 44-yard line.
This time, Tech chipped away at uga's defense, finishing the drive with an eight-yard rush from Roddy Jones. Tech went for two again and succeeded again. 28 all.
Tech kicks off. uga receives. uga fumbles the kickoff. Tech recovers and starts their next drive at the uga 23.
Dwyer takes the first play all 23 yards for the touchdown. Tech settles for the PAT this time. 35-28 Tech.
Another uga drive, and another uga punt. Tech started the next drive on their own 12. Tech drove all the way down to the 11-yard line, but had to settle for a Scott Blair-field goal. 38-28 Tech.
Tech put up 26 points in the third quarter. uga would be unable to fully recover, and Tech would win by a final score of 45-42, giving Tech their first victory over Tech since 2000.
Roddy Jones and Jon Dwyer led the way for Tech's 410 rushing yards. It was a thing of beauty. Let's not even worry about the bowl game that year. It was bad.
Let's focus on the good.
Paul Johnson won ACC Coach of the Year, Dwyer won player of the year, Darryl Richard won the Jim Tatum Award. Michael Johnson (Coach's) and Morgan Burnett (Rival's 2nd team) were named All-Americans. Tech had seven All-ACC players: first teamers Dwyer, Johnson, Andrew Gardner and Vance Walker, and second teamers Burnett, Cord Howard and Darryl Richard.