Clemson 73 Georgia Tech 7: Position Grades
Clemson went into Bobby Dodd Stadium, a venue that hasn't been all that kind to the Tigers over the years, and thoroughly dominated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 73-7 on Saturday afternoon.
The 66-point margin of victory was the largest in a game between two ACC schools since the conference was formed in 1953 and it's the Tigers second largest over a team currently in the FBS.
It was an afternoon in which very little went wrong for the top-ranked Tigers and on the rare occasion they did make a mistake, this team showed an ability to bounce back and recover quickly.
Quarterback: Outside of D.J. Uiagalelei, who was nursing some stiffness in his shoulder, every quarterback on the roster got into this one. Even punter Will Spiers, last seasons emergency quarterback, took snaps at quarterback. Starter Trevor Lawrence played just over a half and yet was still able to set career highs in yards (404) and touchdowns (5), while completing 73% of his passes. Playing about 40 miles from his hometown of Cartersville, Lawrence joined Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd, and Deshaun Watson as the only starting quarterbacks to win at least 30 games in their careers. The junior signal caller did see his streak of consecutive pass attempts without an interception end at 366, but that was the lone blemish for him on the day. Lawrence, Taisun Phommachanh, Hunter Helms, and Spiers combined to go 33-49 for 500 yards and 7 touchdowns..... A
Running Backs: Coming in the Yellow Jackets were allowing more than 180 yards per game on the ground but were determined that it would not be Travis Etienne that was going to beat them. The Georgia Tech defense kept the standout running back bottled up, limiting him to just 44 yards on 11 carries, as rushing yards were hard to come by, particularly in the first half. Etienne did have a short touchdown run but also had a rare first quarter fumble. However, as the game wore on, the more room the backs had to run. Six Clemson running backs combined to finish the day with 160 yards and averaged more than 4.5 yards per carry. They also combined to catch 5 balls for 59 yards out of the backfield. Even DT Nyles Pinckney had a 2-yard touchdown run out of the Tigers "jumbo package"..... A
Wide Recievers: 11 different receivers had at least one catch on Saturday. Amari Rodgers had another impressive outing, catching 6 passes for a career high 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cornell Powell had a productive day, reeling in 4 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Frank Ladson Jr. did have another big drop, but bounced back and caught 3 passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Ajou Ajou also had a 35-yard touchdown catch where his athleticism was on display as he avoided multiple defenders on his way to the end zone. Joseph Ngata made it back to the field and had a catch after an abdominal strain had limited him over the last few weeks. He is a player the Tigers are going to need down the stretch..... A
Tight Ends: Davis Allen keeps proving that Braden Galloway isn't the only tight end on the roster that can stretch a defense vertically. Allen was a factor throughout the first half, finishing with 3 catches for 67 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown..... A+
Offensive Line: Overall, pass protection was good, but Georgia Tech did have two sacks on the day. One of which came on a perfectly timed blitz. However, the Tigers did struggle to run the ball, especially between the tackles, against a team that hasn't been very good against the run. The Yellow Jackets were bringing extra defenders into the box at times to key on Etienne, but still, not one of the most productive days up front, all things considered..... B
Defensive Line: Another dominant outing by the Tigers front four. Georgia Tech only managed 2.8 yards per carry, had just seven first downs, and was only 2-14 on third down. Jeff Sims was harassed all afternoon and rarely had time to throw. Myles Murphy had a sack and forced a fumble. Tyler Davis recorded his first sack of the season and had 2 TFL. K.J. Henry and Justin Mascoll each recovered a fumble and Xavier Thomas even got in on the action registering 0.5 TFL. This defensive front keeps getting better with each passing week, and they still aren't fully healthy..... A+
Linebackers: Another solid outing by the linebacker group. Baylon Spector has grown into a force to be reckoned with and James Skalski just keeps making plays. Mike Jones Jr had a productive day with 2 TFL and freshman Trenton Simpson gave fans a glimpse of what's to come, tying for a team high with six tackles..... A
Secondary: For a third consecutive week, passing yards were hard to come by for opposing teams. Mario Goodrich did get turned around on one play, allowing Tech to hit on a 59-yard touchdown pass, but outside of that the defensive backs seemed to play extremely well. Andrew Booth Jr. tied for the team high in tackles with six and recorded his first career sack, while Nolan Turner had an interception that was returned for 31 yards. After a slow start to the season, the backend of this defense has really started to settle in and looks like it just might be one of the strengths of this team..... A-
Special Teams: After a dismal showing last week in which B.T. Potter saw all three of his field goal attempts blocked, it looks like the Tigers have those protection issues ironed out. Potter hit his only field goal attempt from 30 yards out and also connected on all eight of his PAT's. Will Spiers averaged over 50 yards per punt and had one downed inside the 20-yard line and Aidan Swanson's lone punt was downed inside the twenty. Overall a nice bounce-back game after some struggles a week ago..... A