In beating Clemson 31-17 last Saturday, Tech mostly did everything right, and Clemson did several things wrong. For a Tech fan, it was a great game.
After being unable to get the running game going the past two weeks, Paul Johnson called passes on two of the first three plays of the game. Both fell incomplete. Quarterback Tevin
Both teams were able to move the ball. Tech’s option ran smoothly, with
The key play in the first half was Clemson’s fumble, deep in their own territory. A Tech player scooped it up and dashed to the end zone. The referees said the ball was dead, but were soon overturned by the replay. A nearby fan correctly remarked that had the original ruling been touchdown by Tech, it would not have been overruled. Tech scored, increasing their early lead.
At halftime the Tech players danced off the field like they had won the game. I knew Johnson wouldn’t rest on his laurels. In the past two games Clemson’s offense really didn’t get in gear until the second half. And sure enough, the Tigers opened the second half with a lightning-quick scoring drive, capped by a 48 yard touchdown pass to their freshman receiver Sammy Watkins. The game was far from over.
But Tech answered right back with a long touchdown drive of their own. Instead of passing,
By early in the fourth quarter Tech still has the momentum. After a Clemson punt
Just that quick, the momentum swung Clemson’s way. There was plenty of time for them to make up the two-touchdown lead. But after the inevitable TV timeout, Watkins couldn’t find Boyd’s high floating pass. Instead of a Tiger touchdown, a Tech turnover. Clemson uncharacteristically turned the ball over four times (thrice in the second half). This, along with their defense’s inability to stop the option, sealed Clemson’s fate.
Season after season, Clemson gets off to a strong start. Most years they eventually get upset by an undermanned opponent, a case of young players thinking too highly of themselves. Not this year. Dabo had his Tigers ready, but they couldn’t execute. Clemson played without the services of their top running back, who had scorched the Jackets in last season’s game. Against Tech, the Tiger offense was out of synch most of the night. Boyd’s passes were often low, or otherwise off the mark.
Tech’s beleaguered defense rose up and played their best game of the season. Their job was made much easier by (a) Clemson’s aforementioned turnovers, (b) their offense’s massive time of possession advantage, and (c) improved special teams play. Despite one flubbed field goal, all-around special teams play was greatly improved. Punts averaged 44 yards (one went for over 50), and coverage of Clemson’s dangerous returners was decent.