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Back Seat Coachin’: Clemson 14 - Georgia Tech 8

The Jackets grew up before our eyes and gave the Tigers one heck of a fight on Saturday.

Georgia Tech v Clemson Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets fell to the Clemson Tigers in Death Valley by a final score of 14-8 on Saturday. The ball game took an entire afternoon and evening, after a weather delay, but Geoff Collins squad stayed focused on their goal. Tech came to Death Valley as 28 point underdogs and fell just a yard or two short of overtime.

On the dash

The Tech defense smothered the Clemson offense on Saturday. Clemson’s quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was held to five yards per pass attempt and no passing TDs. Uiagalelei did add 46 yards rushing but failed to score. Will Shipley ran for 88 yards and two TDs, but Clemson averaged only 3.9 yards per carry as a team.

Georgia Tech v Clemson Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

While Tech had zero sacks, PBU’s, or hurries on the Tigers, they did come away with four tackles for loss. On the flip side, GT allowed four sacks, eight TFL’s, three PBU’s and seven hurries to a Clemson defense that’s clearly sharing “best in the nation” honors with the Georgia Bulldogs.

GT has to improve on 3rd downs as they were only 3-of-14 on the day, but did finish 2-of-3 on 4th down. Another positive to the 4th down conversions was the lack of turnovers by the Jackets. Tech committed 10 penalties which was two more than Clemson’s eight.

GT Offense

Considering how damn good Clemson’s defense is, the Jackets QB Jordan Yates averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt isn’t bad. Clemson DC Brent Venables, however, shut Jahmyr Gibbs down. Gibbs was held to 2.7 yards per carry.

Above- Brent Venables isn’t going to let Yates just sit back and throw on 3rd and long. And here Clemson only rushes four, but they’re coming from every which way and the guys dropping are getting into perfect holes. Yates has at most 2.6 seconds to throw the ball and he’s back there far too long before his internal clock lets him know it’s time to ‘release’ in the R4 protocol.

But in that same R4 system (above), Yates looks to have a rhythm drop, and a read. But where is his ‘rush’ route? GT max protects but none of the three receivers in routes run something that can get out quick.

Above- This is just pure aggression by Clemson’s defensive line beating the GT offensive line here. I don’t care if Tashard Choice or Gibbs are at RB, this isn’t getting positive yards.

Above- Georgia Tech preached all off-season that the pre-snap issues and snap issues would be resolved. However, in crunch time, there’s an early snap that’s clearly on the center. This is why Yates is a superior QB to Jeff Sims (and I like Jeff Sims) at the college level. His ceiling may be lower but man he can raise up the floor with his ‘flow’ plays.

Mental Toughness is a word thrown around athletics, and especially American Football, without an appropriate definition. Some feel it’s which player can play through a cut off pinky, or do the most 300’s in a certain time.

True Mental Toughness (MT) is being able to perform the require task, with utmost efficiency, under great duress. Think of a sniper only having one shot (Bobby Stroupe’ism), a surgeon repairing your torn ACL, or a center-QB exchange against Clemson with an upset on the line. MT is task-specific as the sniper can’t do surgery, just like the surgeon can’t snap or catch a snap under duress and the football player can’t pick off a most wanted terrorist with a single shot.

Above- Again, more Yates magic that not every player can do. This is just inherent stuff that comes from years of playing sports and having confidence in your ability.

Above- When you’re in a make-or-break situation, go to the power run game that got you here. GT’s bread and butter is power and the back side guard wraps here as a lead blocker for the back.

Above- Say what you want but I loved the shovel option call on 4th and goal with the game on the line. You can’t come right at Venables and James Skalski. Skalski still makes the stop because, well, because he’s him, but it was a great call and if the guard fits him up like he should it’s a TD.

GT Defense

DC Andrew Thacker’s defense needs to come up with more tackles for loss and PBU’s in order to create more havoc for offenses. Both are a great way to keep an offense behind schedule and from picking up that pesky money down.

Above- I’m not sure what happened here but two linebackers went D-gap leaving no linebacker in the A-gap. Essentially, Shipley just walked in for the score because of the big three aspects of defense, align-assign-finish, Tech assigned wrong somewhere down the communication process.

Above- Tech’s pressure fails and DJU has plenty of time to throw. The result is a short gain, until, Justyn Ross bullies three Tech defenders for a 1st down. The lack of hips and leg drive from GT defenders is what turns potential TFL’s into short gains, and potential short gains into 1st downs. Is the weight room a place to turn into body builders or football players?

Above- Same thing as above-above down at the goal line. Clemson’s Shipley fights through Tech’s entire defense for a game clinching TD on 2nd and goal. If he’s stopped for no gain it puts DJU in a 3rd and goal situation as a young QB.

In the rearview

This was a great game from GT and while you would love to see the Jackets get on the board on offense, they’re still a work in progress ball club in Year Three under Geoff Collins. They’re working towards it. This was a promising sign. While the growth wasn’t showing against NIU in Week One it’s there in Death Valley.

Now the Jackets just need to continue building and growing throughout the season. Tech faces high scoring North Carolina and Sam Howell. Howell has been pressured often as UNC’s offensive line has struggled but they came alive against a well coached UVA defense and put up 59 points.

SP+ look ahead: Georgia Tech is the 73rd best team in the country per Bill Connelly’s SP+ metrics. The Jackets are also rated 83rd on offense, 49th on defense, and 110th in kicking. UNC on the other hand is ranked 11th overall, 3rd on offense, 46th on defense, and 65th in kicking.

Prediction: UNC by 10.