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Clemson at Georgia Tech: 5 Things to Watch For

Five storylines to follow as No. 4 Clemson opens up the 2022 season on the road against Georgia Tech in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
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Clemson is set to kick off the season on Monday night in Atlanta as the No. 4 Tigers open up against ACC foe Georgia Tech.

Dabo Swinney's team is looking to bounce back after a 2021 season that saw his team finish 10-3, miss the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2014 and see its streak of seven consecutive ACC titles snapped.  

5 Things to Watch For

1. The Quarterbacks: Obviously, any conversation about this Clemson football team has to include the play of the quarterback, after the struggles starter DJ Uiagalelei endured during his sophomore campaign. There is no question regarding the work the quarterback has put in since the end of last season in an effort to be better. Now, we see if all that work has paid off. As a freshman, Uiagalelei hit on 70% of his passes. As a sophomore, just 56%. Which Uiagalelei will we see on Monday night?

Then there is freshman phenom Cade Klubnik. After coming to Clemson as the top-rated quarterback in the country, the coaches have raved about Klubnik. The staff has said he will definitely play in the coming season but has been non-committal regarding how much and how early. Much of that might just ride on how Uiagalelei fares.

2. Line of Scrimmage: Something feels different about this Clemson offensive line. Outside of true freshman Blake Miller, who gets the start at RT, this group begins the season with much more experience than it did a season ago. And what Miller lacks in experience, he makes up for with knowledge. This group needs to get off to a good start. Doing so will go a long way towards developing not only some consistency on the offensive side of the ball but also some confidence, two things the Tigers sorely lacked at times a season ago. However, while expectations are high, we just won't know until we see it.

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This is not the first time the Gamecocks got a big win prior to playing the Tigers. Last year, they took down Auburn the week before and also had a recent rout of Florida before the Tigers shut them out 30-0 in Columbia.

On the other side of the ball, the Tigers know what they have up front. One of the best defensive lines in all of college football. Georgia Tech won't be fielding one of the most experienced offensive lines the Tigers will see this season, so even without Xavier Thomas, who is out injured, this is a battle Clemson should win.

3. WRU: There is a standard in place when it comes to receiver play at Clemson. Last season, that standard was not met. Injuries decimated the group as the Tigers struggled to keep players healthy. Drops and an inability to create separation were also issues at times a season ago. This is a position group that must be better. Even more so, they have to be available. While it is certainly feasible to think Clemson will rely heavily on the running game, the wideouts will be needed, and at crucial points.

4. New Faces In New Places: The Tigers will have two new coordinators when they open the season. Gone are longtime assistants Brent Venables and Tony Elliott. Wes Goodwin and Brandon Streeter now fill those roles, and while they got their first taste running their respective units in last year's Cheez-It Bowl win over Iowa State, both have now had an entire offseason to put their fingerprints on the offense and defense. It will be interesting to see any tweaks that have been made, particularly on the offensive side.

5. Playing With a Chip: This Clemson team has something to prove. That's pretty obvious listening to some of the player's talk. Barrett Carter referred to the opener as a "statement game." Will Shipley said it was time to "put the country on notice." Even Dabo Swinney has made reference to starting the season on a Monday and ending it on a Monday, an obvious hint that his team has national title aspirations.

The Tigers will enter the stadium on Monday night with a chip firmly entrenched on their shoulders, eager to prove that last season was just a minor setback and certainly not a sign of things to come.

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