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What Did We Learn: Clemson Stomps the Yellow Jackets 49-21

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Early self-inflicted errors prevented the Jackets from ever having a chance

NCAA Football: Clemson at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody expected Georgia Tech to win this game. Clemson is ranked #3 in the country and has national championship aspirations, so it’s no surprise that the Tigers came out victorious today. What’s frustrating, however, is watching the Jackets commit the same unforced errors that we’ve seen time and time again these past two seasons. Here’s what we learned from Tech’s 49-21 loss to the Tigers:

Negative plays and penalties are still killing the Jackets on offense

Tech’s offense looked great at first, gaining 55 yards on their first eight plays of the game. But after reaching the Clemson 17-yard line, the offense started going backwards with two false starts and plays for losses of 5 and 10 yards. What should have been a great opportunity to take an early lead was ultimately squandered, and those are opportunities you can’t miss out on, especially when playing a team like Clemson.

Georgia Tech is still putting the ball on the ground

Last week against Pitt it was clear the Jackets needed to work on ball security after putting the ball on the ground three times (although only one was lost). Sadly, Tech’s ball security was even worse against Clemson as the Jackets put the ball on the ground five times in the first half alone and a staggering eight times for the game. While Tech was lucky that only one of those resulted in a turnover, that one was also the most significant as it came in the form of Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins recovering the ball in the endzone for the game’s first score. If Tech continues to put the ball on the ground this frequently, it’s tough to see the offense doing much of anything this season.

Shawn Davis appears to be Georgia Tech’s kicker moving forward

Following Tech’s Week 1 win against Alcorn State, Coach Paul Johnson had named Brenton King the full-time kicker in response to a question about a Shawn Davis missed extra point. But now that King has missed multiple field goals and an extra point over the last few games, including a 43-yard attempt that missed wide left in the 2nd Quarter today, it seems Davis is back in the starting role. After his miss, King spent the remainder of the game sitting on the bench without his helmet while Davis was responsible for kickoffs and extra points, all of which were successful. While I obviously hope Davis will kick well moving forward, it seems that Tech should legitimately consider holding an open tryout to see if there’s any undiscovered kicking talent hiding somewhere in the student body.

Tobias Oliver has lots of potential

It’s tough to draw meaningful conclusions from Tobias Oliver’s playing time since he wasn’t playing against a first-string defense, but he did manage to inject the Jackets with a spark of life in the 4th quarter when it looked like the team had just about given up. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the starting nod at quarterback moving forward. Paul Johnson and nearly the entire fan base have been less than thrilled with TaQuon Marshall’s performance this season, and this game may have been the breaking point. If Oliver gets the starting job and plays well for the rest of the season, it may be enough to keep Paul Johnson his job for another year.

Conclusion

Georgia Tech is now 1-3 and the schedule isn’t getting any easier. No game is a guaranteed victory, and some games (Virginia Tech, Miami, Georgia) almost feel like guaranteed losses at this point. The team’s primary goal for the season is now to simply make a bowl game, but even that feels a bit out of reach. There is definitely room for improvement on both sides of the ball, but the bottom line is that the offense needs to eliminate their self-inflicted mistakes if this team is going to have any hope of being competitive moving forward.