Tech Survives Clemson Surge, Wins 30-27

Actual ACC powers collide tonight in Atlanta as Clemson travels to take on Ga. Tech at 7:30ET on ESPN.

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Third Down Woes Nearly Cost GA Tech

SB Nation's From the Rumble Seat breaks down the game, and is particularly concerned about the way GA Tech handled third down play-calling:

Here are the third down play selections we had and the yardage to gain a first down: incomplete pass (13), -3 yard rush (4), incomplete pass (6), incomplete pass (5), incomplete pass (8), 0 yard rush (4), 5 yard rush (6), 1 yard rush (3), incomplete pass (9), 24 yard pass (9), 4 yard rush (1), 2 yard rush (9), 39 yard pass (11), 4 yard rush (5). So play calling on third down included 7 passes (50% of 3rd downs). We only converted 3 of them. I'm not the coach and I'm not complaining about a win. I'm just wondering why we passed 50% of the time on third down when we passed only 23% of the time all game. Our passing game is a huge liability at this point, in my opinion.

Video: Highlights of the Clemson-GA Tech Game

In case you missed the more exciting of last night's two football games 'cause you were busy watching NFL [/points thumbs at self], here are highlights of Clemson-GA Tech's wild one in Atlanta:

(Via RealClearSports)


Tech Wins, Clemson and Sound Officiating Lose

Georgia Tech barely hangs on in a game with teaching moments a plenty for everyone. For the Yellow Jackets, they need to learn to ration out their focus, as a call for additional intensity had the Jackets gassed in the third quarter. Example? After a huge first half with three sacks, DE Derrick Morgan had zero sacks in the second half, a disappearance coinciding nicely with Kyle Morgan leading the Clemson offense to 27 unanswered points. They hacked a win out of an equally gassed Clemson team, but clearly have much to work on before their matchup in Miami with the Hurricanes, another team with a superb defensive line and a promising young qb.

Clemson has little to be ashamed of for a number of reasons. They discovered a spark in Jacoby Ford, who broke his leash and ran unfettered through the Tech secondary for much of the game. They watched qb Kyle Parker persevere in a brutal game, and emerge with an excellent resume on the night despite the loss. They came back on the road, and were it not for a phantom holding call would have a victory in the ledger tonight.

The other loser was officiating. Not only did ACC officials put on their usual pokey performance, they botched two holding calls late, including one that called back the aforementioned long pass to Ford that could have put Clemson into endgame position for the game-winning field goal. Both teams were spent at the end of this game, a fatigue all too apparent in the final quarter. It is a shame the officiating crew negated some of that competitive effort with flubbed calls.


Holding, Holding, Field Goal, and 30-27

Clemson had the ball in field goal range after a long bomb to Jacoby Ford, but a holding penalty nullified a potentially game-winning pass for Clemson. Tech got the butt end of a make up call on the ensuing drive, but Nesbitt hit just his third pass of the night long to Bebe Thomas to net GT field goal position. FG hit, 30-27, and Clemson is down to heave-ho territory with 39 seconds left.


Tied 27-27; Current Winner of Game, Lactic Acid.

Only the lactic acid piling up in the muscles of both teams can claim any kind of victory right now in this game. Georgia Tech's Josh Nesbitt slogged out enough yardage on obviously wobbly legs to put Georgia Tech into field goal range, thanks largely to a Clemson defense as fatigued as the Yellow Jackets quarterback at this point. 27--27 after a Tech field goal.

Fun broadcasting note: Chris Fowler, in narrating a wide shot of the beluga whales at the Georgia Aquarium, suggested they produce caviar. Beluga caviar is made from the eggs of the Beluga sturgeon, and whales do not lay eggs because they are mammals.


Clemson Scores 27 Unanswered, Takes Lead

Clemson and Georgia Tech have switched roles completely, with Tech averaging less than 2 yards a play this half and Clemson gouging Tech's defense badly thanks to timely runs and Jacoby Ford running wild through the Tech secondary. Kenneth the Page has proven to be a durable opponent, and after a Clemson field goal, the game is leaning Clemson's way 27--24 with ten to go in the 4th.


Place Order for Blowout on Hold

Clemson's defensive coordinator Kevin Steele strikes the crane pose in an attempt to re-balance the Tigers' chi in the third quarter.


Whatever he's doing there, it worked: Clemson's defensive line has awakened in the third quarter to bring the Tigers back into the game, stymying Tech at the line on offense and giving the ball back to the offense, who wisely placed it in the hands of supersonic marvel C.J. Spiller for a long run setting up a short TD pass to make it 24-14, a score followed up by a three-and-out and a long bomb to Jacoby Ford to make it 24-21. Blowout postponed indefinitely, as suddenly a ball game has broken out on North Avenue. 


Halftime: Bring on Dr. Lou

Lou's pep talk is back. Other than that, that's all the news we have here going to the half. Correction: Erin Andrews tasted her first patented sarcastic Paul Johnson answer during the halftime interview.

EA: "So, Derrick Morgan has three sacks at the half."

Johnson: "Yeah. He's a real good player." [trots off]

EA: [blink, blink]

Sarcasm, Paul Johnson has it.


Dabo Swinney Is Currently On Fire

Like an Indy Car driver swatting themselves frantically, Clemson is on fire and panicking right now. You can't see the flames unless you look at the scoreboard, where Clemson has fallen behind 24-7 thanks to a blunderfest of:

--A pooch punt out of a fake field goal formation where, instead of blocking, Clemson players decided to join each other for a relaxing conversation at midfield, allowing Tech to return it for a TD.

--A fake field goal resembling the old automatic score field goal from Madden '98, where the receiver was so open he had to come to a full stop to catch it before stiffarming Clemson's lone and late covering defender out of the way for the score.

That and a field goal put Tech up 24-0. Despite a quick score to C.J. Spiller, Dabo Swinney resembles Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock more than a Division One football coach with his team ready to play on the road.


I Love You, You Love Me, Georgia Tech is Running Free

Maybe because they're wearing the all-too-intimidating "Barney purple" unis, Clemson decided to share a little too well with their hosts, Georgia Tech, by allowing an 82 yard option run for the Yellow Jackets by Anthony Allen. 7-0, Tech, with Clemson already missing a 4th and short conversion just across midfield, and your television screen filled with that unique shade only properly described as Television Dinosaur Purple. 


Pre-Kick Updates of a Last Minute Nature

Block-C's good gentlemen are split on the predictions for tonight, and believe ESPN's fondness for Atlanta games has a logical explanation.

In yet another Thursday night GT game (Atlanta is easily accessible for ESPN staff and the wives love the shopping, which explains the propensity for yearly games there more so than the electrifying football environment, and this info comes straight from ESPNers, not that it should matter to Techies, who will steadfastly accuse me of being a hater, but I’m not, good for them.)

We do have an IKEA here in the ATL. Feel the power of fine inexpensive furniture and hot Swedish meatballs on demand!

Jeff Schultz also points out that Paul Johnson will attempt to open the season 2-0 for the second straight year as a sophomore year coach, a feat the Jackets last accomplished eighty-eight years ago. Consider the list of illustrious coaches who've cruised through Tech in that time span: Pepper Rodgers, Bill Curry, Bobby Dodd, Bobby Ross, and George O'Leary. None of them started 2-0 in their first two years at Tech, a baffling stat you have to see on paper to believe.


Clemson Win Can Go a Long Way Toward Bowden-Era Exorcism

Doc Saturday says Clemson comes into the game tonight with loads of motivation, including taking a huge step towards erasing the negative vibes of the late Bowden era:

Redshirt freshman Kyle Parker wasn't all that impressive in his first start against Middle Tennessee, but it's hard to argue that (like Harper) he doesn't have all the necessary pieces around him; if the kid can engineer a road win tonight, that will be a big step toward erasing the years of negativity that built up under Bowden.

Completely true: Clemson won four of their last five under Swinney at the end of 2008, and played Nebraska deep into the fourth quarter in the Gator Bowl in a 26-21 defeat. As flawed as the team might be--young quarterback and all--the team has demonstrably committed to their new coach with the best evidence you can hope for in the form of pure, undiluted effort.


Scandalous! Georgia Tech Will Wear White After Labor Day

The GTG's, Tech's custom geek-rap duo, have tonight's theme ready to go. If you missed the yellow Lambo from the shirtless Tech calendar, it makes a cameo below.


Yellow will not be the theme tonight, as Tech fans have been asked to "White Out" the stadium by the team for their first home conference game, since the Jackets will be wearing white unis and gold helmets tonight. (Even though it's after Labor Day, fashion rules be damned.)

On the strategic side, Tony Barnhart wonders if Clemson DC Kevin Steele has something special cooking for the Tech option attack:

Last week, for example, he went with a lot of six defensive back looks against Tony Franklin’s spread offense at Middle Tennessee. He didn’t play his base defense for one play, which made sure Tech’s offenses coaches had to reach back to Alabama to get some film on Steele’s scheme.

Whatever you pull on them defensively, it's difficult to stop everything. The linemen launch into the defense at thigh level, cutting down defenders on every play. Watch it tonight: while legal, it has to be illegally frustrating to face snap after snap after snap.


Clemson Has Had a Bit of Trouble In ATL Recently

In a superb overview of the game's preview highlights, From the Rumble Seat mentions one extremely interesting note: Clemson has not scored a touchdown at Grant Field in their last two visits to Atlanta, a streak going back to 2003 when Clemson romped to a 39-3 victory on Tech's home field.

One person who likely won't help break that streak? Clemson backup qb Willy Korn:

If Dabo brings him in, then he's a braver man than me. Willy Korn played 4 snaps. He handed the ball off to Harper. Next play he was sacked, fumbled, and the ball was returned for a TD. Next series Korn handed off to Harper and followed that play with a pick. Two turnovers in four plays. The Willy Korn Era is officially over.

Barring any serious catastrophes, yes, Mr. Korn will likely be keeping benches warm for the moment.


Clemson Looks to Stop Ga. Tech's Crafty, Infuriating Option Offense

Clemson will play Georgia Tech on Thursday night in Atlanta in an early season match-up of ACC powers which, unlike other teams claiming to be ACC "powers," really are ACC powers. (We're looking at you, Wake Forest.)

Georgia Tech is looking for some intensity following an uneven performance by the Jackets against Jacksonville State where, after an aggressive start, the Jackets fumbled, missed blocks and reads, and still managed a 37-17 win. If they seemed out of sorts from the start, it is because they were, right down to Paul Johnson having to yell at the Ramblin' Wreck's driver to get the show going in pregame.

When Paul Johnson says to go, you go.

On the other side, Clemson plans to lean on their defense against Tech, and has been practicing against their best imitation of the Paul Johnson triple option for much of the offseason in preparation. That's nice and all, but even a team with a stout defensive line can get lost in the weeds of cut-blocking and ball fakes thrown around by the Johnson offense, an attack simultaneously simple in its setup and endlessly complex in the way it can gut you for serious yardage on the ground.

Whatever happens for Clemson, the D-lineman with the most sacks does win something: Ruby Tuesday's. In other news, Clemson, South Carolina needs to get new chain restaurants opened up, and opened up fast, if the prize meal is Ruby Tuesday's. 

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