Tigers and Jackets matchup in primetime showdown as Clemson looks to keep Playoff hopes alive

Written by Ernie Casanova
CLEMSON, SC– Two teams are going head to head with much to prove in South Carolina as the Clemson Tigers host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Saturday at 8:30 PM ET.

Clemson, coming off of a much-needed bye week, is still feeling the shock wave from their loss against Syracuse. With QB Kelly Bryant already nursing an ankle issue, he was knocked out of the game against the Orange with an apparent head injury. According to reports, he should be ready to suit up and play this weekend as it will give the 6-1 Tigers a boost. While still succeeding through the air, he is second on the team in rushing yards and first in rushing touchdowns with seven. Bryant sets the tone for this offense with his arm and legs equally, and it will be imperative for him to be 100% against this defense. The Yellow Jackets are 4-2 and sit at second in the ACC Coastal. They have yet to come up with a statement win, but they have got the formula to get by the defending national champs if the Triple Option Offense is rolling.

In the loss against Syracuse, the Tigers struggled to convert on third down and went 2 of 11 for the entire game. Georgia Tech ranks 5th in the nation in 3rd down defense, and after losing Bryant in that game, the Tigers’ offense became visibly stagnant. As they could not get anything going on the ground, they now come in and face a Yellow Jackets team holding a ranking of 20th in the nation in total defense and rushing defense. Led by Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne, the Clemson running core will have to get things going early in the game if they want to slow down this very competent front seven. Bryant will have to be comfortable against a great defense considering his recent injuries, and he will be the ultimate factor in how the outcome plays out for the Tigers. Coming off of a week’s rest, this is the time for them to kick it high gear if they are still thinking playoffs and create a statement win of their own.

Led by quarterback TaQuon Marshall, running backs KirVonte Benson and Qua Searcy, this Georgia Tech offense has a total of 2,237 rushing yards on the season. The Yellow Jackets come in to Death Valley as the number two ranked rushing offense, but it will not come easy. This Clemson team is 13th in the nation in rushing defense and 7th in scoring defense. Although it gave up a season-high 162 rushing yards, the Tigers defense does very well up front. Syracuse only averaged 3.2 yards-per-carry, and the Tigers also tallied up nine tackles for loss and six sacks. For an offense that rarely passes, they dominate their opponents on the ground.

No one pressures the backfield quite like Wake Forest, as they lead the nation in tackles for loss. Yet, Wake still got 427 yards and five touchdowns handed to its run defense last week by the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech now comes in and faces a Clemson team whom themselves struggled against the Deamon Deacons early on in the season, and this should come out to be one of the season’s most intriguing games.

With both teams defensively able, the Tigers have a more polished offense. Their quarterback play from Bryant is efficient, and he can get the ball to his receivers if need be. If Bryant stays healthy the whole night, Clemson has a high possibility of winning this game. This game will be a battle in the trenches from the start, and it shall not disappoint.

“This is a 4-2 team, but truly, literally two plays away from being undefeated. Paul Johnson has done an awesome job getting them in a position to win. We are in for a big fight.” Said, head coach Dabo Swinney about playing against Johnson and his Yellow Jackets.

“We play them every year. We’re very familiar with who they are. It never is easy to play these guys. It is always an incredible undertaking. Tackling is at a premium because of their style of play and the way they force you into one-on-one coverage and open-field tackles.”

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