With the return of QB Kelly Bryant, Clemson’s offense was back to its regular form as they quickly brushed off the loss against Syracuse two weeks ago. Moving forward and forgetting mistakes are beneficial to a team’s success, but not while they are missing key players. The Tigers’ offense was visibly missing firepower without Bryant, and this might just be the beginning of a run to Charlotte to compete in the ACC title game. That’s how important he is to this team. Clemson jumped to an early lead after recovering a Yellow Jackets fumble and didn’t let go of the gas pedal from there. Facing the 2nd ranked rushing offense in the country, not only did the Tigers’ offense shine but so did their defense.
At the end of the first half, Bryant was 14 of 19 for 143 yards and two touchdown passes, adding 67 rushing yards as well. He finished the game 22 of 33 for 207 yards and the two scores, with one of them coming off of a 38-yard catch and run from WR Deon Cain. That play set the tempo that the Tigers were trying to create as they got the ball rolling. They came out attacking head on and early against a very talented Georgia Tech defense and proceeded to allow the heavy rainfall to slow up the Yellow Jackets. Bryant spread the ball proficiently completing a pass to 12 different players and performed tremendously, disregarding any injury from recent. It will be a necessity for him to keep this kind of play up and help the team contend for a playoff spot, along with staying healthy. At the top of the receiving core was Cain with four catches for 57 yards and Ray-Ray McCloud with four catches for 40 yards. Leading the Tigers in rushing was Bryant himself, although a committee of sorts involving five other rushers contributed to the team total of 221 yards. Coming in second was RB Adam Choice with 54 rushing yards, although Travis Etienne had the lone rushing touchdown. It was a rather quiet game from RB Tavien Feaster and Etienne, but not too important to stress when you have Bryant playing the way he did. What really allowed the team to spread themselves apart on the scoreboard was the other side of the ball: defense.
Clemson’s defense came in ready for a battle against one of the best rushing teams in the country. For the game, the team totaled 11 tackles for a loss by eight different players and four sacks, allowing Georgia Tech to score just 10 points and attain only 230 total yards. This is the same Georgia Tech team that tallied up 427 yards and five touchdowns against a similar stingy defense in Wake Forest. The Tigers came in with a set plan, and they did not allow a play over 25 yards beside a 65 yard run by RB KirVonte Benson early on. They swarmed the rush to start the game at the line of scrimmage and made it impossible for the Yellow Jackets to keep moving the chains, as they went 1 for 11 on third-down conversions in the first half. That set up the offense to gain an early lead and put pressure on the opposing offense who has trouble passing the ball. Clemson proved why they are the 13th ranked rushing defense in the nation and the 7th ranked scoring defense.
The toughness displayed is through the idea that it’s like playoffs right now. Clemson is in the hunt, which is where head coach Dabo Swinney states, “It’s a playoff mentality every week. The rest of the way. And that’s the way it should be. We’ve got about 13 days left to the end of the division race and it ain’t gonna be easy.”
Swinney states that consistency and excelling in given opportunities is where teams are successful. “We’ll find out if we’re good enough when given the chance, but these guys are ready. These guys are locked in and focused.”
Georgia Tech rolled into Death Valley confident they can recreate some of the success they had against Wake Forest in the previous week. With the vaunted Triple Option Offense not coming into fruition throughout the game, Georgia Tech was forced to beat Clemson at what they struggle to do the most which is passing the ball. QB TaQuon Marshall was a subpar 1 of 7 passing for -6 yards and a QB rating of 8.3 up until there were eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. He finished 3 of 13 for 32 yards as he couldn’t give his offense any type of boost but did score their only touchdown on a 22 yard run. RB KirVonte Benson was the lone star on the team as he was the player the Tigers didn’t have an answer for. He totaled 129 yards on 16 rushes and was the only Yellow Jacket with positive yardage at the end of the third-quarter. An abysmal outing from Georgia Tech, this game might have defined their season. Tricky schemes can get figured out, and weaknesses get exposed. Sitting at 4-3, their team is a mixture of great running and below average passing.
Next Up –
Clemson faces NC State in North Carolina for a battle for ACC supremacy on November 4th
Georgia Tech will take on the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, VA at 3:00 PM ET on November 4th