Playing on the road in a short week is hard under any circumstance, but only having a few days to prepare for Georgia Tech’s triple option offense makes Clemson’s task this week significantly more difficult.
That’s why the Clemson coaching staff began readying its team to face the Yellow Jackets during the spring and fall camp, instead of waiting to try and implement a game plan beginning Sunday after the South Carolina State game.
Clemson did an option period this spring called the “Georgia Tech period,” where it worked on stopping the Yellow Jackets’ offense and spent a couple of practices during fall camp solely focused on Georgia Tech.
“Georgia Tech is just a whole different animal because from a defensive standpoint you don’t have a lot of carry over. … When you play Georgia Tech, they’re just so different we don’t see that anywhere else. It’s truly a game and season of its own when you play these guys,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “We’ve worked really all year long on Georgia Tech from a defensive standpoint.”
Tigers senior linebacker Ben Boulware said the work during fall camp was beneficial and allowed the defense to pick up where it left off a few weeks ago instead of starting from scratch.
“It gave us a huge foundation,” he said. “You need all the time you can get for that type of offense. The fact that we only have three days to prepare, those other days it helps out a lot.”
DC TO QB
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables has been doubling as the scout team quarterback to get his defense ready for the triple option.
“It’s just having experience with the offense, being able to control the tempo and mesh points, being able to operate the offense pre-snap,” he said. “The scouts are a little more scared of me so I can hurry up and get them lined up faster and snap it when I want to.”
He has gotten the attention of several of Clemson’s players on defense as they want to make sure their coach doesn’t have success against them.
“It’s been a couple of times where I just want to take him off his feet, but I actually like when he is in at quarterback because he makes it a little more intense. If he completes a ball he’s not going to let you live it down,” Tigers safety Jadar Johnson said. “He says, ‘If you let me complete a ball on you I can only imagine what you’re going to let him do to you.’ It brings an extra edge… I gave up a couple but it only took a few and I never let it happen again.”
There’s still no timetable when starting defensive end Austin Bryant will be able to return to the field, but Swinney believes Bryant’s getting close.
“We’re hopeful for next week, but I have no idea. It’s truly day-to-day,” Swinney said. “It’s just a matter of him feeling like he can go cut it loose like he needs to.”