Strange things have happened in Bobby Dodd stadium over the past decade, but the Tigers have snapped the 13 year gap between wins at Georgia Tech in Atlanta with a 26-7 decimation of the Yellow Jackets. Before Brent Venables figured out how to stop the flexbone veer, fans watched helplessly as Paul Johnson mentally outwitted Clemson defenses. Before Paul Johnson, Chan Gailey was the coach and Calvin Johnson was the nightmare. In the sixth year of a historic run of success by the Clemson football team, several challenges remained. This mission is accomplished.
The defense was lights out once again. For the second straight year, they held Tech to under 100 yards rushing (71, 95 this year). Tech ran an uncharacteristically low 38 times and averaged 2.5 yards per carry. While time of possession usually doesn’t matter, to beat a Paul Johnson team in this statistic is impressive. Tech was 2-12 on third down and 0-1 on fourth down, and they had 11 total first downs.
The offense was more dink and dunk this week, partially due to gameplan and partially due to overthrows by Watson. Watson threw 48 times and completed 32 of them for 304 yards, 6.3 yards per attempt, and a pick. Many of these yards came off of the jet toss play that is technically a pass play but functions like a run play. The Tigers had to run 34 times in to gain a paltry 138 yards for a mediocre 4.1 yards per carry, which is a discouraging statistic.
Penalties also haunted the Tigers as they committed ten infractions for eighty yards, compared to Tech’s two for fifteen. While some say that the referees could be a factor, this was not a game where the referees had lots of influence or over exerted their power. The Tigers were sloppy, and this could hurt against future teams.
The Tigers put the pedal to the metal in the first half, only to come out and lose their fire in the second half. Questions remain to be addressed and Game Day in Death Valley against star Lamar Jackson and Louisville await. There are things that should change or be corrected, and things that are going well. But tonight sleep well and enjoy a nineteen point win in a haunted house – leave tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow.