Instant Analysis: Tigers turn in dominant effort against Jackets


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Deon Cain scores early against Georgia Tech
Deon Cain scores early against Georgia Tech

CLEMSON – The Tigers domination of Georgia Tech continued Saturday night as No. 7 Clemson defeated the Yellow Jackets 24-10 in a rain-sodden Death Valley.

The scoreboard might not indicate a dominant effort, but most of Georgia Tech’s yards and the only touchdown scored by the Yellow Jackets came with the game already in hand and against a bevy of backups.

It was Clemson’s third consecutive win over Georgia Tech and its fifth victory in six games.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kelly Bryant returned from injury and proved why he’s one of Clemson’s most valuable players. Bryant completed 22-of-33 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 67 rushing yards on 12 carries – a clip of 5.6 yards per carry.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME: Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Brent Venables had his unit ready to play Saturday night against Georgia Tech’s vaunted option attack. Three of Clemson’s top four tacklers in the game were linebacker Tre Lamar, Dorian O’Daniel and Kendall Joseph. Lamar finished the game with 11 total tackles and two sacks. Joseph and nine tackles and O’Daniel added seven tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

As we noted in a story earlier this week, O’Daniel has had the most success of his career against Georgia Tech. He had 10 stops including a sack at Tech in 2014, then had eight tackles including three tackles for loss in a Clemson win over Georgia Tech in 2015, and finally eight stops and two tackles for loss against Paul Johnson’s team last year.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Cain is back: Through the first seven games of the season, Deon Cain never really made his presence known, but offensive coordinators Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott got the Florida native involved early. Clemson’s first offensive play of the game was a pass to Cain and the second was a 38-yard touchdown.

KB2 is back: Much was made during the off week and leading up to Saturday’s game about quarterback Kelly Bryant’s health after he sprained his ankle against Wake Forest and suffered a head injury in the loss to Syracuse. Bryant’s ankle was tested on Clemson’s second drive as he rushed for 18 yards on three carries.

Spence makes the kick: Head coach Dabo Swinney opened up the place kicker competition during the off week after Alex Spence was just 2-for-6 on the season. Swinney went as far as to bring in senior engineering student Drew Costa, but in the end, when Clemson was looking for a field goal early in the third quarter Swinney once against turned to Spence. Spence nailed the 29-yard field goal, causing his coaches and teammates to erupt in celebration.

Hunter Johnson gains experience: After not making an appearance at Syracuse two weeks ago, the coaches elected to give Johnson time in mop up duty late in the fourth quarter. While he didn't throw a pass, he was able to execute the read-option and hone in his skills in the running game. He also showed his athletic ability scrambling to make the best of a bad snap.

STAT OF THE GAME: Clemson improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the ACC while Tech falls to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Clemson has won 38 of its last 41 games dating to 2014, and the Tigers have won 22 of their last 24 against ACC teams. Clemson is 14-1 at night over the last two years. The Tigers have won 39 in a row when rushing for at least 200 yards, and they rushed for 221 yards Saturday.

UP NEXT:

Clemson travels to N.C. State for a match with a Top-25 ranked Wolfpack team. State will be looking to exact revenge for the overtime loss last season, but the game has bigger implications. The winner of the game will be in the driver seat for the ACC Atlantic title, with Clemson’s only remaining ACC game against Florida State the following week.

Georgia Tech travels to Virginia to take on the Cavs in a 3 p.m. matchup. Virginia fell to 4-3 Saturday with a 31-14 loss to Pittsburgh.


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