October 10, 2015

Game Prediction - Clemson vs. Georgia Tech

Clemson and Georgia Tech – the rivalry that no one knows about.

Nobody outside of the borders of Georgia and South Carolina care all that much about the Tigers and Yellow Jackets, but the two teams have been playing since the late 1890s and continue to play heart stopping, slobber knocker games.

How will this year’s contest play out?

WHERE: Memorial Stadium (81,500)
KICKOFF: 3:30 p.m.

GEORGIA TECH OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSE: Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has made a living off of running the pesky, hard to defend triple option offense, and he his type of quarterback in Justin Thomas. Thomas is a dynamic runner, isn’t afraid to throw the ball, and has won his fair share of big games including wins over Clemson, Georgia and Mississippi State. However, his and Georgia Tech’s –strength is running the football, not being forced to throw the ball – and with the struggles at running back the Yellow Jackets have found themselves behind the chains a lot during the first five games of the season. Georgia Tech will be without leading back Broderick Snoddy this Saturday, making it even more difficult for Thomas.

For Clemson’s defense, they must play assignment football. Defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd have been good at setting the edge while tackles Carlos Watkins, Scott Pagano and Christian Wilkins have gotten good push up the middle. Can the secondary commit either Jayron Kearse or T.J. Green to stopping the run and play man coverage on the receivers?

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. GEORGIA TECH DEFENSE: Clemson’s offense has yet to play up to it’s capability. Deshaun Watson has been off on some throws and the wide receivers haven’t always played with enough sense of urgency, but the bright spot over the last two weeks has been the play of the offensive line and running back Wayne Gallman. The redshirt sophomore running back has 75 carries for 408 yards and five touchdowns, while the offensive line hasn’t given up a sack in the last two games.

Georgia Tech is led by senior defensive tackle Adam Gotsis who can be a one man wrecking crew…Just ask North Carolina. Gotsis was shutting down the Tar Heels running game in the first quarter, but was ejected after a targeting call in the second half which opened up things for UNC quarterback Marquise Williams to lead the Heels to a comeback. Tech also has a very experienced secondary that will challenge Clemson’s receivers on the line of scrimmage and will create turnovers if given the opportunity.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Both Clemson and Georgia Tech’s special teams units have had their ups and downs during the first part of the season. For Tech, kicker Harrison Butker has been inconsistent at times, hitting just 3-of-5 field goals this season. The Yellow Jackets have already given up a kickoff return for a touchdown and a long punt return for a touchdown. Return man Jamal Golden has gotten off to a great start in the return game but can break free for a long return at any time.

For Clemson, Greg Huegel missed a kick last weekend but it was in a monsoon and into the wind, so he gets a little bit of a pass. The walk-on kicker has been more than serviceable and will only get better. Ammon Lakip is back and handling kickoff and did a good job against Notre Dame, including forcing a fumble to begin the second half. Artavis Scott has given Clemson the spark it has been missing for the last few years in the return game. Can he break one for a touchdown against Georgia Tech?

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has said all week that it’s not difficult to get this group of players focused and ready to play, but how will they react after such an emotional win over Notre Dame a week ago? Will the defense be focused enough to stop Tech’s triple option offense more times than not? Will Clemson’s offense finally open up the playbook and start clicking?

The answer is yes. Brent Venables knows how to scheme against the triple option and has the players to shut it down. Georgia Tech will still make plays, but the Clemson defense will keep them in check. Depending on the weather, Clemson’s offense may continue to stick with the ground and pound method letting Wayne Gallman continue to carry the team, and while the game will be close going into the second half, Clemson has more talent and more playmakers.


Post written by Clemson Girl Sports Bloggess Nikki Hood

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