Matt Connolly

5 things we learned from Clemson’s win against Georgia Tech

Milan Richard talks scoring first touchdown with uncle Herschel Walker in attendance

Clemson TE caught a touchdown pass in first quarter
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Clemson TE caught a touchdown pass in first quarter

A look back at what we learned from Clemson’s 24-10 victory against Georgia Tech before the Tigers travel to face N.C. State:

Clemson has its swagger back

When Clemson’s defense wasn’t stuffing Georgia Tech’s triple option attack it was dancing and getting the crowd fired up. The Tigers felt that their swagger was missing against Syracuse, but they showed plenty of it against Georgia Tech. Clemson got back to having fun playing football and it showed on the scoreboard and on the stat sheet.

The Yellow Jackets went three-and-out on eight of their 13 possessions and had less than 150 yards of offense through three quarters.

“That was one of the things we talked about. We wanted to get our momentum back and get our swagger back tonight a little bit,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. “I thought that was on full display with those guys. They played really well and played together.”

Tigers OL getting better

Clemson’s offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage as the Tigers rushed for more than 200 yards and did not allow a sack. It marked the first time since Week 1 against Kent State that Clemson did not allow a sack. The Tigers also rushed for more than 200 yards for the first time since Week 4 against Boston College.

Clemson finished with 428 total yards, passing for 207 and rushing for 221.

“Offensively we’re at our best when we can have that type of balance,” Swinney said. “We ran the ball very, very well and I think threw the ball well… No sacks in a really, really difficult situation.”

When Bryant is healthy Clemson is a title contender

Clemson’s offense is completely different when Kelly Bryant is healthy. The junior is dangerous when he is able to use his legs, which he was unable to do against Syracuse. Bryant rushed for 67 yards against Georgia Tech and the Yellow Jackets played man coverage at times with Bryant being a rushing threat.

That opened things up in the passing game as Bryant completed 22 of 33 passes for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns, despite the tough weather conditions. It was the first multi-touchdown passing game of Bryant’s career.

“He practiced all week and we didn't see an issue. He was ready to go and I think for him he's got to be in his element to be able to go play his best,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “He can run the ball and sit back there and throw it and I thought the offensive line did a really, really good job of keeping him clean and there weren't too many times he got touched when he took off and ran the ball.”

Clemson is at its best when it is playing with tempo

Bryant asked for the offense to play with more tempo after the Tigers struggled against Syracuse and he got his wish. Clemson was playing at a noticeably quicker pace from the opening series as the Tigers scored in two plays the first time they got the ball. Clemson led 21-3 at the half and ran 42 plays in the first two quarters as opposed to Georgia Tech’s 27.

“Yea, we talked about just attacking right out of the gate. I told them at the hotel today, ‘Listen, I don’t care if it rains or whatever, that’s not going to change how we’re gonna play the game.’ We stayed aggressive the whole day,” Swinney said. “We gave Kelly a lot of flexibility tonight in what he could do with our run game and pass game combined, and he did a great job of making good decisions all night long.”

Clemson’s fans are tough

The rain started pouring late in the afternoon on Saturday and did not stop until well after the game was over. Despite the horrible conditions, Clemson fans packed Death Valley and created a strong home-field advantage. It was one of the rowdier crowds of the season for the Tigers, and Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said his offense was rattled in the first half.

“Incredible. Just incredible. I told our team that in pregame. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ You’ve got people that drive forever and sit out there in the rain. I mean they’re just sitting there in the rain. Just pouring down rain, and it’s a packed house,” Swinney said. “I mean what a privilege to be able to play a game and have so many people care and show up. It’s one of the greatest venues that you could ever be a part of.”

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