When GT Has The Ball
The Georgia Tech wideouts come into this game with huge question marks. Nate Curry may not be able to play Saturday against Clemson. Coach Gailey would not discuss in detail, just saying he had taken a turn for the worse.
Outside of Curry, the Jackets' receivers only 14 catches for 156 yards coming into the season. Calvin Johnson, a true freshman, is the wild card in Saturday's game. Against Samford, he had 2 catches for 45 yards. Johnson is a legitimate big play threat. The Jackets will try and get him one on one with Justin Miller or Tye Hill.
The Tigers will likely counter by playing man against the Jackets. With Clemson's experienced secondary, they could play right up at the line. The Tigers could try and frustrate the young Johnson by playing him very physical.
The other wideouts that Tech will play includes Damarius Bilbo, Xavier McGuire, and Chris Dunlap. Bilbo has bounced around from quarterback to receiver, but has drawn praise from the coaching staff thus far. Clemson's experienced secondary holds a huge advantage in this matchup.
Reggie Ball did not have a 300 yard passing game last season, and he only threw for more than 200 yards four times. Offensive Coordinator Patrick Nix has talked about throwing the ball down field more this year, but if Curry cannot play it really hurts the Tech passing game.
Bilbo and Johnson will be key factors in the success of the Yellow Jackets passing game.
Clemson free safety Travis Pugh is also battling a calf strain, but is expected to play. Tavaugh Monts came in for Pugh last week, and had a key pass breakup in the second overtime against Wake Forest.
Last week, the Clemson secondary was forced to play a lot of zone. John Lovett's secondary could be placed in a lot of man coverage to challenge the inexperienced wideouts.
When Clemson Has The Ball
There were some questions heading into the first game if Chansi Stuckey could replace Derrick Hamilton. Those questions are long forgotten. Stuckey's 8 catches for 112 yards and special teams play proved to many Tiger faithful what coaches had been saying since the spring. At his size, Stuckey is a very physical receiver.
Airese Currie and Stuckey have the speed to really stretch a defense. Both are very talented open field runners, who may also become involved in the running game on reverses more this week.
Georgia Tech will counter with Reuben Houston and Kenny Scott. Dawan Landry and James Butler anchor the secondary at the safety spots.
Last season, Clemson was able to get the vertical passing game going but GT has made changes in their scheme.
Kelvin Grant, Curtis Baham, and Ben Hall could all become more involved in the passing game this week. Grant's biggest catch last week didn't even give him credit for yards. On the tying two point conversion, Grant made a beautiful jump ball catch. Grant still may have the biggest upside of the Tigers' receivers, but is waiting for the breakout game. His one catch against Wake Forest came on a sliding catch across the middle for 14 yards.
Baham is a very consistent receiver and blocker.
The offensive line will have to improve's its blocking for Hall to be a factor in the passing game. The Yellow Jackets' secondary only have combined for 11 interceptions for their careers. Expect the Tigers once again to play to their strengths and expose the weaknesses in Tech's secondary again this year.