Clemson vs Georgia Tech prediction


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – How many subplots can one game have?


The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their, ummm, confident head coach come calling Saturday afternoon in a key ACC matchup for both teams. These two teams seemingly always play a close game, and this one should be no different. And while there are the subplots of the burgeoning rivalry, the close games, the revenge factor from last year, stopping the option attack, etc., perhaps the biggest of them all is the fact the Clemson simply can’t afford to lose this game.


Another loss in the ACC would give them three, and they would all but be eliminated from contention for the ACC Championship Game. With that said, let’s take a look at how this one shakes out.


Georgia Tech at Clemson


When Georgia Tech Has the Ball

Ok, we all know what to expect here: the option, the option, and more of the option. The Yellow Jackets don’t really disguise what they are going to do – at least until the ball is snapped and defenders are forced to figure out who is going to get the ball – but they do it effectively. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt is running the offense better than ever, and this big signal caller is hard to bring down. When he decides to pitch it, he can go to B back Anthony Allen, who has rushed for 275 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games. In fact, Nesbitt and Allen rank second and fourth in the ACC in rushing, so stopping these two will be the key. Clemson’s defensive linemen have the talent and the ability to stop them, and if Da’Quan Bowers can have the type of impact that Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn had in the Orange Bowl, it could make the Tech option attack a ramblin wreck. While Clemson’s linebackers have played better the last couple of weeks, however, there is concern on whether Brandon Maye will play and whether the talent is there to stop the quarterback and the pitch.

ADVANTAGE – GEORGIA TECH


When Clemson Has the Ball

The Maryland Terrapins’ gameplan last week was to pack the box, blitz as many players and shut down the Clemson running game. They did that, but the Tigers still made enough plays to win the game. This week will be a different story. The Tech defense, under new coordinator Al Groh, struggled at the beginning of the season but has since settled in nicely. His 3-4 scheme is designed to stop the run, but they are still allowing over four yards a pop and rank just 65th in the nation against the run. But Groh is an experienced hand, and if he feels like he can scheme a way to force Clemson to beat them through the air he will. Tight end Dwayne Allen and the running backs have to find a way to hold on to the ball this week – 12 drops in two games is just way too many – and give quarterback Kyle Parker an outlet he can depend on. Freshman receiver Nuke Hopkins will be back, and receiver Jaron Brown has shown an ability to stretch the field. A few big plays in the passing game early would help a lot in opening the running lanes for Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper late.

ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON



Special Teams

Tech kicker Scott Blair has hit on 9-of-10 field goals this season, and their kickoff coverage teams are solid. Other than that, though, and the Tigers have the advantage. Punter Dawson Zimmerman continues his solid season, and Clemson is either at or near the top in both kickoff and punt returns. The coverage teams have been solid. Field position could play a key role in this one. The big thing is, you don’t want Blair on the field facing a game-winner as time winds down.

ADVANTAGE – CLEMSON




Coaching

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney faced some tough questions about the direction of the program during his press conference on Tuesday, and while a win over Maryland held off the Wolves for another week, a loss here would set the pack to howling again. The good thing is that Clemson started 2-3 last season before embarking on a six-game winning streak, so he knows how to get this team to win when it has to. At this point, it has to. Tech head coach Paul Johnson brought his “gimmick” offense to Atlanta, and many wondered if the option could survive in the FBS in today’s climate. So far, he has proven it can and I can almost guarantee that no one calls it a gimmick anymore. Johnson is 3-0 against Swinney.

ADVANTAGE –GEORGIA TECH



BOTTOM LINE

We can talk all about schemes and X’s and O’s and past coaching records til we’re blue in the face, but this one breaks down simply. The team that stays focused and wants it more is going to walk out of Death Valley a winner on Saturday. Clemson players have downplayed the “must win” aspect of the contest all week, but you can bet they know what’s at stake. The two stinging losses last year are also in the forefront of their thoughts, and whether Death Valley is bathed in orange or purple won’t matter to them. The only colors they will see are the white and gold of Tech. Bowers, Jarvis Jenkins, Miguel Chavis and company on the defensive line will disrupt things all game long, Ellington gets back on track and Clemson pulls away late for the win.


THE PICK

CLEMSON 24, GEORGIA TECH 20





David's previous picks - Actual score

CLEMSON 56, PRESBYTERIAN 6 - CLEMSON 58, PRESBYTERIAN 21

CLEMSON 52, NORTH TEXAS 10 - CLEMSON 35, NORTH TEXAS 10

CLEMSON 26, AUBURN 24 - CLEMSON 24, AUBURN 27

CLEMSON 27, MIAMI 23 - CLEMSON 21, MIAMI 30

CLEMSON 23, NORTH CAROLINA 26 - CLEMSON 15 NORTH CAROLINA 21

CLEMSON 28, MARYLAND 13 - CLEMSON 31 MARYLAND 7

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