ACC Championship Preview: Clemson vs. Georgia Tech


#12 Georgia Tech (10-2, 7-1) vs. #25 Clemson Tigers (8-4, 6-2)

When: 8pm EST on ESPN

Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL

Previous result: 30-27. Georgia Tech squandered a 24 point lead they'd built early on, only to switch to the midline and come back enough to win the game late in the 4th quarter. Georgia Tech owns a 48-24-2 advantage in the all-time series with Clemson, and the Yellow Jackets have won the last three meetings, and five of the last six overall.

 

Our articles on the game:

Clemson vs. Georgia Tech Film Review

Defensive Breakdowns against GT-Game 1

Statsheet statistics for the first game

The Key: Containing the run. You won't stop an offense like this cold, they'll get yards on the ground no matter what. Our great pass defense will be useless as Nesbitt does not throw very often and in those cases its usually a 20 yd bomb. I expect Cover 2/bracket to whichever side Thomas is lined up on, and us to challenge the other receiver with various looks. 

Our articles on defending the Option:

Stopping the midline and the veer option attack, as well as a look at how the option works from the QB.

GT ranks #2 nationally in rush yardage per game at 314.1, 116th in passing at 135.5 ypg. Their defense is their weakness: 23.5ppg (#56), 229.4pass (83), 117.2 (37).  They are aggressive and tend to overpursue up front, but the secondary is just bad. Theres no other way I can put that, just terrible when I've watched them. Generally they've been out of position by miles. The defensive line is banged up without 2 starters.

Dwyer has 1200+ yards rushing at this point, Nesbitt 900+, and Anthony Allen 600. Thomas is the prime receiving threat at 1000 yards.

Rushing Yards allowed this year by the Clemson defense:

 

 

Clemson's defense ranks 21st in scoring, 3rd in the ACC. We are 8th in pass defense at 146ypg, and 52nd against the run at 131.8ypg. Our offense ranks 41st at 30.9ppg, 84th in passing (196) and 55th in rushing (150.9). Brandon Maye is the team's top tackler with 90 stops to this point, while Kavell Conner and Marcus Gilchrist are close behind with 87 and 86.

If we are going to have any success, we'll have to stop one facet of the option. You either take away the Dive, or you take away the outside/inside veer options, or the midline. Its akin to making a team one dimensional by stacking the box to stop the run or dropping 8 into coverage. You pick the ones that are most lethal and force the rest to beat you.

Steele has witnessed it first-hand, too. He said Johnson is adept at scanning the opponent’s defense, then quickly capitalizing on weak links, substitutions and tendencies.

"He’s got a knack for that kind of stuff," Steele said. "He’s kind of like, ‘OK, the safety just made the tackle on this play. Now let’s run the same play…action (pass).’ And they run the post behind the safety for a touchdown because he knows the safety’s going to be trying to stop the run again and the corner’s going to be one-on-one.

"He’s always a step ahead. He’s going to see how you’re lining up and attack, so if you’re giving them something he’ll find it pretty quick. Then you’ve got to get that stopped and he’ll see how you’re doing that and he’ll attack something else."

I expect Kyle Parker to have a good night in the air against GT, assuming Walker can contain Derrick Morgan. Our receivers did not have trouble with Georgia Tech's split coverages and now that the offensive attack has improved I think we can score plenty on GT. CJ will need a gamebreaker or two though, should they control the clock and keep us off the field. The best that we could hope for is a huge early lead, and force them to play catchup. Last week, they didnt feel like playing and hopefully this week the leadership will right the ship and we can pull off the conference title and Orange Bowl bid we've all been waiting for.

Danny Ford recognized in Tampa for being a legend in the same year Clemson finally makes it to the ACC Championship....a coincidence? I dont think so.

My head tells me to pick GT. Something else tells me to pick the Tigers. I think we win it.

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