Throw out everything you know about football because logic and football IQ never seem to matter when the Tigers travel to Atlanta, Georgia to take on the Rambling Wreck of Georgia Tech.
It doesn’t matter which team is playing better – in 2011Clemson was 8-0 and got trounced 31-17 by the Yellow Jackets – or the size of the lead in the fourth quarter – Clemson was up 17-7 with under six minutes to play, only to lose 28-24 in 2004.
Crazy things are going to happen, so grab a blanket and some nerve pills and get ready for the wild ride that is Clemson and Georgia Tech.
WHAT: NO. 17 Clemson at NO. 23 Georgia Tech
WHERE: Bobby Dodd Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, November 15, 2014 (12 p.m.)
WHY GEORGIA TECH MIGHT WIN:
*THE CURSE OF BOBBY DODD: Georgia Tech holds a 50-27-2 advantage over Clemson all time in the series and has beaten the Tigers more than any other team. 43 of the Yellow Jackets’ wins have come at home at Grant Field since the series began in 1898. Clemson hasn’t won a game on Georgia Tech’s home turf since 2003 when the Tigers claimed a 39-3 victory led by Charlie Whitehurst who threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns, one of which went to urrent running backs coach Tony Elliott who was a senior on the 2003 squad. Clemson’s four losses at Grant field over the last 11 years have been by a combined 28 points, with 14 of those points coming in the 2011 contest.
*TURNOVERS AND CLOCK MANAGEMENT: The key to head coach Paul Johnson’s offense is clock management – go on long drives and eat up as much clock as possible, not giving the opponent’s offense a chance to score points. The Yellow Jackets have one the time of possession battle in every game except the opener against Wofford in which both teams run a similar offense and against Virginia Tech, a game that Georgia Tech narrowly escaped with a 27-24 victory. A big reason why the Yellow Jackets have been able to control the clock is because they force turnovers and are very opportunistic on offense. Tech has forced 21 turnovers in 2014, scoring 15 times after takeaways (14 touchdowns and one field goal). Georgia Tech has scored 101 points off turnovers and is plus-70 points off-turnover margin. Tech has forced 11 turnovers in its last three games – blowout wins over Pittsburgh, Virginia and North Carolina State.
*TRIPLE THREAT, TRIPLE OPTION: Paul Johnson has made a coaching career off of running the triple option – an offense that is seldom used by FBS teams, which makes preparing for it a season in and of its own. This season Johnson has a true triple threat with quarterback Justin Thomas and B-back Synjin Days and A-backs TonyZenon, and Broderick Snoddy. Thomas has carried the ball 142 times for 887 yards and five touchdowns. Days, Zenon and Snoddy have added 145 rushing attempts for 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns. Don’t go to sleep on Thomas thinking he’s just going to hand the ball off every play because he’s completed 67-of-134 passes for 1,294 yards and 14 touchdowns with just four interceptions. DeAndre Smelter is his top receiving target with 27 catches for 594 yards and six scores.
WHY CLEMSON MIGHT WIN:
*DESHAUN WATSON: Welcome back Deshaun Watson. You have been missed. The freshman phenom has missed the last four games with a broken hand but has been grinding through rehab and to make it back for the final stretch of the season. Watson will make his first appearance – and start – since suffering the injury late in the first quarter against Louisville in early October. Prior to the injury, Watson had completed 75-of-112 passes for 1,176 yards and 12 touchdowns, while adding another 210 yards and three scores on the ground. Clemson’s offense just seems to flow better when Watson is in the game. His mobility adds an extra element to the Tigers’ ground game, which has been non-existent at times this season. His accuracy and precision throwing the ball makes all the difference with the wide receivers. Mike Williams was leading the country in plays over 20 yards before Watson’s injury but hasn’t really been a factor since the Boston College game. Before Watson’s injury, Williams had 21 receptions for 520 yards and four scores and since then he has 17 catches for 252 yards (128 came against Boston College) and no touchdowns.
*EXPERIENCED DEFENSE: Eight of Clemson’s 11 starters on defense are either juniors or seniors, meaning all of them have played at one time or another against Georgia Tech’s triple option offense over the last four or five years. Vic Beasley, Corey Crawford, Josh Watson, Grady Jarrett – they all understand that Tech’s offensive line is going to cut block on every play. They understand that they’ve got to get their hands on the offensive linemen and move them out of the way. The defensive ends, along with the linebacker know that they have to keep contain or it will spell disaster for the Tigers. Jarrett and his fellow defensive tackles know that they need to get a push up the middle to not give Thomas and the Tech backs time in the backfield. The secondary may be young but Garry Peters and Robert Smith – who will miss the first half due to suspension after being called for targeting last week against Wake Forest – have told Jayron Kearse and Mackensie Alexander that they can’t be lulled to sleep by all of the running plays because as soon as they do Thomas will hit a long pass over the top for a touchdown. These defenders have played against Georgia Tech. They get what it will take to win.
*SPECIAL TEAMS: Clemson’s special teams have been a factor over the last couple of weeks – both good and bad. Punter and kickoff specialist Bradley Pinion has been phenomenal as of late and is probably Clemson’s unsung hero. He is capable of flipping field position with just one play. Ammon Lakip got off to a rough start to begin the season but has found his confidence and has seemed to hit his stride. The reigning Groza Award Star of the Week winner is 17-of-21 on field goals, including making his last nine attempts.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Anything can happen in Atlanta,Georgia and that has been proven time and time again.Georgia Tech’s main goal will be to go on 14 play, 90 yard drives that take seven minutes off the clock to keep Deshuan Watson and company off the field. Clemson’s defense will need to have success on first and second down to put the Yellow Jackets in long third down situations. With a veteran defensive front and an offense that’s growing up, Clemson should be able to handle Johnson’s triple option attack and Ted Roof’s defense that has had some success putting pressure on opposing quarterback with 44 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Tigers survive and see their Orange Bowl hopes live one more week.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 35, GEORGIA TECH 24
Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Steele