Like that annual physical we all dread because we know what’s involved in the process, Clemson gets its annual exam against the triple option Thursday night against Georgia Tech in Death Valley. And like that physical when the doctor probes the body looking for any weakness, that’s the offensive approach by Tech. Little by little the Yellow Jackets look for that weakness in the defense until they can break that big play.
Clemson knows it well. The Tigers have played Tech every season since 1983 when the Yellow Jackets joined the ACC so they’ve had to endure every pitch, every fullback dive, every cut block of the Paul Johnson era. In a loss at Clemson last season, Tech rushed for 339 yards. And this year’s Tech’s team is one of his best in years and likely will break into the top 25 with an upset of the Tigers.
It’s been a rollercoaster season for the Yellow Jackets. They opened with three straight wins, lost the next three and have won their last three going into Thursday night. Tech is averaging 311 rushing yards per game and that’s no surprise. Where the Jackets have made their greatest improvement is on defense where coordinator Ted Roof has a unit that’s ranked 3rd in the ACC and 12th nationally. In last year’s loss to Clemson, the Yellow Jackets allowed 601 yards including 397 thru the air.
Here are a few of Dabo Swinney’s key remarks in previewing the game Tuesday morning:
- Georgia Tech is a rivalry game and always a tough game.
- Need a great environment and energy from crowd and expects to get that.
- Winning the line of scrimmage is a key, everyone doing their job and not getting board with doing their job. Tackling is important.
- Impressed with Georgia Tech defense, highly ranked in several categories.
- Open date was good, team is as healthy as it has been since start of season.
- Great opportunity is still out there for this team but it’s all about how you finish.
- This game on defense for Clemson is “about doing your job.” Swinney warns if they don’t it will lead to big plays.
- Garry Peters and Ronald Geohaghan are back at 100% and will be available Thursday. CJ Davidson only one that’s out.
Georgia Tech leads the overall series 50-26-2 but since they became ACC rivals the series is 16-15 in favor of Tech. Clemson has won 11 of 17 meetings in Death Valley. The teams didn’t play at Clemson until the 1974 season. Twelve of the last 18 meetings have been decided by 5 points or less.
Clemson currently is a 11 point favorite for the 7:30 kickoff. And the Tigers will be gunning for their third straight win on ESPN’s Thursday night package after losing in 9 of their first 10 appearances.