Aaron Kelly: Clemson’s 6-foot-5 wide receiver (seven catches, 122 yards) hauled in two touchdown catches to tie the school record for career receiving scores, a mark that has stood since 1951.
Dorell Scott: The 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle out of Ridge View High manhandled Georgia Tech’s interior linemen en route to a career-high 10 tackles, doubling his highest output of the season.
What went right
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The team rallied around enthusiastic interim coach Dabo Swinney. The offense’s approach was more aesthetically pleasing, even if it did not produce increased yards or points. Sixteen of Georgia Tech’s 52 carries went for 2 yards or less thanks to the defense’s execution against the unorthodox option attack.
What went wrong
It cannot be a good thing when the day’s most memorable moment was the players’ pregame walk to the stadium. Otherwise, the day offered the same checklist of recurring issues. Negate a defensive gem by allowing the decisive fourth-quarter score? Yep. Have the offense trip over itself again? A holding call accomplished that. And, regardless of which coaches left, the offensive line remains a fatal flaw.
Senior quarterback Cullen Harper should return to practice Tuesday after undergoing surgery Sunday to have bone fragments removed from his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Harper is expected to start the next game, Nov. 1 at Boston College. Redshirt freshman quarterback Willy Korn (bruised throwing shoulder) is questionable.
In each of its past three games — losses by 4, 5 and 3 points — Clemson has led in the fourth quarter.
How would Clemson’s fan base have responded if Tommy Bowden had used the same words and positive tone as Swinney did in his postgame news conference? Fans are finding it hard to believe this team needs four wins in its final five games just to be bowl eligible.
After an off week, the Tigers (3-4, 1-3) travel to Boston College (5-1, 2-1), which is in a four-way tie for the Atlantic Division lead. Clemson has lost all three meetings since the Eagles joined the ACC, but none of the losses were by more than three points.
“Next to running down the hill, it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve done since I’ve been at Clemson. As the buses pulled up, coach Swinney told us to put our headphones in our bags. I looked into the parking lot and tears started rolling into my eyes. After all we’ve been through this season, to see that many fans were still behind us, it felt like a new start.” — senior defensive tackle Jock McKissic, on the inaugural “Tiger Walk” to the stadium
— Paul Strelow