Georgia Tech Review
|Monday, September 26, 2016, 9:29 AM- -|
Georgia Tech Review
Guns n Roses recorded a song called "Fourteen Years" that talked about 14 years of silence and pain. For Clemson, it was 13 years of pain regarding playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium. That ended Thursday night with a convincing 26-7 win over previously undefeated Georgia Tech.
Before Thursday night's game, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said he felt Tech had the potential on offense to be as good as his 2014 team. He is either sadly mistaken, or Clemson is once again one of the nation's best defenses, or both.
Brent Venable's defense put on a clinic of how to stop the option attack of the Yellow Jackets. In its first 20 plays, Tech gained a grand total of eight yards. In the first half, Tech ran 21 plays for 22 yards. The Jackets had minus three yards passing in a first half that saw Clemson out gain Tech 347-22.
The 124 yards gained by Tech for the game was the lowest output of any Johnson coached offense at Georgia Tech
Tech was held to 11 first downs, 95 yards rushing and 2.4 yards per play. Yellow Jacket quarterback Justin Thomas was 4-13 passing for 29 yards. He ran the ball ten times for minus 25 yards.
One Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist wrote that he had never seen anything like what he saw in the first half of this one. What we all saw was Clemson's defensive line dominating Tech. Dexter Lawrence, Carlos Watkins, Scott Pagano, Albert Huggins, Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Richard Yeargin and Chris Register dominated almost every snap. This allowed Ben Boulware, Kendall Joseph, and Dorian O'Daniel to roam and make plays from their linebacking spots. The secondary gave up only four completions and tackled well. Yes, this was complete domination.
On offense, there were many positives, especially in the first half. Clemson marched down the field and set the tone for the game with the opening touchdown drive that went for 75 yards on nine plays. The Tigers were outstanding converting 10 of 18 third-down attempts. The offense put up 347 yards in the first stanza.
But in the second half, the offense once again sputtered and failed to answer some critics.
Deshaun Watson was 32-48 for 304 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also had 12 carries for 36 yards. Watson was very good, but not polished with some of his reads and throws.
Ray Ray McCloud had another strong night. The sophomore had eight catches for 101 yards and three punt returns for 17 yards. Mike Williams had another strong performance with six catches for 61 yards and a score.
Perhaps the best news in the passing game was the emergence of Cornell Powell who had five receptions for 44 yards and the re-emergence of Jordan Leggett who caught four balls for 31 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the biggest disappointment once again at receiver was Deon Cain.
The running game is still an issue. Clemson had just 138 yards on the ground including 59 from Wayne Gallman. At this point, I think there are several issues in the running game. The offensive line run blocking seems to be the biggest issue, but Watson's zone reads are not always on point, and the play calling hasn't impressed either.
Special teams were mainly positive. Greg Huegel had two touchbacks and limited Tech to 11 yards on their only return. He did kick one out of bounds, however. Huegel made a 47-yarder, but missed a chip shot 27-yard attempt.
Andy Teasdall saw four of his six punts inside the 20 and boomed one 49 harder while backed up in his own end zone.
I said many times on my radio show last week that I expected Clemson to win fairly convincingly because Dabo and his staff have created a huge talent level margin between his program and Johnson's. I said I think what we will see is four and five stars simply being better than two and three stars. That was exactly the case.
Give Dabo and Venables credit. It was a short week and a different scheme to prepare for. It was a place Clemson had not played well in for the last five trips. And it was the week before the biggest game in college football so far this season, but the team was focused and played well in a very convincing win.
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