Preparing for Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense on a short week was supposed to provide a tough test for Clemson’s defense. Brent Venables’ unit didn’t get the message.
The Tigers’ stymied Paul Johnson’s offense in the 26-7 victory, holding the Yellow Jackets to 124 total yards, including only 22 yards in the first half.
Georgia Tech did not get a first down, other than one on a pass interference call, until early in the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets had minus-1 total yards.
“What showed up out there was just preparation from Coach V. He’s on us every day,” Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware said. “Our guys prepare so much, and when you prepare you’re comfortable out there. You’re confident. You’re not stressed at all. You can just kind of play free, and that all comes down to preparation.”
LEGGETT GETS GOING
Clemson tight end Jordan Leggett had one catch through the first three games of the year. He tripled that by the end of the first quarter on Thursday.
Leggett caught three passes for 22 yards in the first quarter and added a 9-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter to put together by far his most productive game of the season.
He finished with four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.
“He had a stretch of seven games in a row with a touchdown last year. He’s a matchup problem,” Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “If you noticed early on in the season we were targeting him, especially in the red zone. We just didn’t convert. We wanted to get him going.”
RAY-RAY STAYS HOT
Clemson sophomore receiver Ray-Ray McCloud continued to produce on offense and special teams, catching eight passes for 101 yards and adding 17 yards as a punt returner.
McCloud entered the game second on the team in receptions and yards with 13 for 154. He is up to 169 punt return yards on the year after the Tigers as a team finished with 63 in 2015.
“Me and Deshaun have been working on some timing stuff at practice,” McCloud said. “Everything they ran we knew what they were going to do.”
ESPN’s popular college football pregame show “College GameDay” will be at Clemson next Saturday (Oct. 1) for the potential top 5 showdown with Louisville.
The game will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Georgia Tech hired a new Athletics Director in Todd Stansbury on Thursday morning and introduced him to the crowd in the middle of the first quarter.
Stansbury previously served as the AD at Oregon State after stops at UCF and East Tennessee State University.
Stansbury also served as the assistant athletic director for academics at Georgia Tech from 1988-1995.
Clemson kicker Greg Huegel missed a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter for his second miss of the year. The Tigers entered the game having scored on 13 of 14 red-zone attempts.
Huegel did make a 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to give Clemson a three-score lead.
Clemson gained two points on a Deshaun Watson interception in the end zone in the second quarter when the Georgia Tech defender Lance Austin intercepted a pass, brought it out of the end zone and then fumbled it back into the end zone and dove on it.
The play took away any momentum Georgia Tech was building, and pushed Clemson’s lead to 16-0.
SLUGGISH GROUND GAME
Clemson dominated in almost every facet of the game, but struggled to get anything going on the ground. The Tigers rushed for 138 yards on 34 attempts.
Running back Wayne Gallman, coming off a stellar sophomore season, was held to 59 yards on 17 carries. He did score a touchdown.
Through four games, Gallman has 63 carries for 256 yards.
Clemson nickel back Jalen Williams was injured on the first series of the game and did not return. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said it is believed the sophomore suffered an MCL injury.
Williams is expected to miss a few weeks but is not believed to be out for the year. He will have an MRI Friday.