Written by Brian Pohl
Atlanta, GA- The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets return home to Bobby Dodd Stadium to renew one of college football’s oldest rivalries as they get set to take on the third-ranked Clemson Tigers.
Following their 24-19 loss to Pittsburgh last week, the Jackets must quickly pick themselves back up, as their difficult schedule leads them to face off against one of today’s premier college football programs when Clemson comes to town on Saturday.
Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson spoke about the matchup saying, “Certainly we’ve got a huge challenge in front of us this week. Clemson is a very good football team. They’re very talented. They do a good job in all facets. Certainly, we’re going to have to play better to have a chance this week.” He continued, “Having said that, we’re looking forward to hosting them and hopefully we can turn it around, get ourselves going in the right direction.”
If the Jackets are going to pull off the upset, they will need their offense to get off to a quicker start than they did at Pittsburgh last week where they dug themselves into too big of a hole to climb out of.
Leading the offense is senior quarterback TaQuon Marshall, who is in his second year starting under center in coach Johnson’s triple-option offense. It’s been an inconsistent start to Marshall’s season, who has had success running the ball, rushing for 293-yards and three touchdowns, but has struggled in the air, completing 24 of his 51 passes for just two touchdowns and four interceptions. The Yellow Jackets need their senior leader to right himself and find consistency in the passing game if they are going to get their season back on the right track.
The Jackets will be without leading running back KirVonte Benson who had his season cut short after suffering a knee injury last week. With Benson out, Coach Johnson will look to a young core led by redshirt freshman Jordan Mason to receive a bulk of the carries against the Tigers. Despite only playing in three collegiate games so far, Mason leads the ACC with 8.06 yards per carry this season. It’s a big test for the freshman but will be a big player to keep an eye out for in Paul Johnson’s scheme.
It will be a difficult matchup for Georgia Tech, as they go up against a Clemson defense that is headlined by a defensive line that features four likely first-round picks in next year’s NFL draft. Leading that group is junior defensive end Clelin Ferrell, who leads all of college football with five sacks through the first three games this season.
For Georgia Tech’s defense, they will look to continue to grow under new defensive coordinator Nate Woody. The Jackets have had success so far, ranking 23rd in total defense, only allowing 302 yards per game, and will need to have their best performance of the season against a Clemson offense that has averaged 513-yards per game.
Co-Captain and leader of the Georgia Tech defense is Brant Mitchell, who has 11 tackles on the season. The linebacker group led by Mitchell will be the key to slowing down the Tiger’s offense, who features two quarterbacks in senior Kelly Bryant and true freshman Trevor Lawrence. The duo has produced over 800-passing yards and nine total touchdowns so far this season and will have a good challenge against this new-look Jackets defense.
This has been a disappointing start to Georgia Tech’s season, as they sit 1-2 so far and 0-1 in ACC play. The Jackets will need to quickly regroup if they are to get back on track, but with a matchup looming with the third-ranked Clemson Tigers, it’s difficult to see that happening this weekend.
With that being said, anything can happen in college football, and the Jackets have won five of the last six meetings from Bobby Dodd Stadium. This could be a fun one to keep an eye on as head coach Paul Johnson and his Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to upset head coach Dabo Swinney and the third-ranked Clemson Tigers.
The Jackets and Tigers will kick off Saturday at 3:00 p.m. from Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, GA.