CLEMSON, S.C. -- When trying to determine the difference between last year’s offense and this year’s offense, look no further than third-down conversions.
A year ago, Georgia Tech was first in the nation with a 58 percent success rate. This year, the Yellow Jackets are making good on just 31.1 percent. It reached a nadir against Clemson on Saturday, when they were 1-for-12 on third down.
“We’ve gone from being the best third-down team in the country to probably the worst,” head coach Paul Johnson said.
Georgia Tech didn’t make its first third-down conversion until two minutes to go in the third quarter. On third-and-11, Justin Thomas found freshman A-back Mikell Lands-Davis for an 11-yard gain to move the chains.
Part of the problem on Saturday was the team’s lack of success on first and second down. The Yellow Jackets averaged needing 10.9 yards on its third-down plays.
We’ve just been horrible on third down,” Johnson said. “It comes from not having continuity on offense, being in a rhythm and doing things. It’s like popcorn. You can’t fix it.”
SPECIAL TEAMS TROUBLES, AGAIN
For the third straight week, the Yellow Jackets had a bad snap on a punt.
Long snapper Sean Tobin sailed the ball over the head of punter Ryan Rodwell. He was able to fetch the ball and somehow kick the ball, which was blocked by Clemson’s Denard Johnson. The ball bounced around, was almost recovered by two Clemson players at the goal line, but squirted away and rolled out of the side of the end zone for a safety.
Tobin, a senior, was later replaced by redshirt freshman Casey Wilson, who is the long snapper for kicks.
Georgia Tech had not allowed a safety since the 2013 Music City Bowl against Mississippi.
GOTSIS GETS FIRST TOUCHDOWN
Defensive tackle Adam Gotsis got his first career touchdown in the third quarter. Clemson snapped the ball over the head of quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Gotsis emerged with the ball from the bottom of the pile.
“It was a lucky play,” Gotsis said.
It was the first defensive touchdown scored by the Yellow Jackets this season. It’s the 25th non-offensive touchdown scored in the Paul Johnson era.
The injuries continue to pile up for Georgia Tech.
Defensive back Demond Smith hurt his right ankle in the second quarter and did not return. Cornerback Chris Milton was hurt in the fourth quarter.
Left tackle Bryan Chamberlain left the game with an injury in the second quarter. Right tackle Errin Joe was injured in the third quarter and did not return.
Defensive back Corey Griffin was decked on a hard hit in the third quarter, but he left on his own power after being tended to by the trainers. Griffin did not return.
Georgia Tech has thrown a touchdown pass in 14 consecutive games. It’s the third-longest active streak in the ACC. ... Freshman linebacker Brant Mitchell snared his first career interception. ... Marcus Marshall replaced Jamal Golden as the kick returner in the second half. He returned two for an 18-yard average and did not return a third from the end zone. ... Micheal Summers returned to play wide receiver. Summers missed the previous two games with a shoulder injury. He had one catch for 3 yards.