The Georgia Tech running game has put up some impressive numbers against a lot of opponents. Clemson isn’t one of them.
The Yellow Jackets rushed for only 95 yards against the Tigers a year ago. They rushed for only 71 yards against Clemson in 2015. That’s 80 carries for 166 yards, an average of 2.1 yards per carry. In those seasons, Georgia Tech averaged 5.7 yards per carry.
“Negative plays,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “A lot of sacks, a lot of lost yardage plays.”
Players like Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett have departed the Clemson program and are big-time contributors with the Atlanta Falcons these days. But they have been replaced by other high-quality defensive linemen — and in bigger numbers.
“They’ve got really good players, but they have had since we’ve been here,” Johnson said. “I can’t remember a year when they didn’t have a really good and big defensive line, from the time I arrived here. Now they’ve probably got more of them. When I first came, there might have only been four or five; now there are eight.”
Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant each has 5.5 sack,s and Dorian O’Daniel has four. Bryant is fifth in the ACC with 11.5 tackles for loss.
Through seven games, Clemson’s defense is limiting the opposition to 2.9 yards per carry and 107.9 yards per game, which is second in the ACC. Georgia Tech is averaging 372.8 yards per game on the ground, which first in the ACC and third in the nation.
A week ago against Wake Forest, the Georgia Tech offense was limited to 68 rushing yards in the first half. The Yellow Jackets recovered in the second half and finished with 427 on the ground. But Clemson has more good players and better players.
“It’s like they roll them, keep them fresh, and they’ve got a lot of erasers on defense,” Johnson said. “They can get lined up wrong and not fit right; somebody beats a block and comes to the rescue. They’ve got guys that can do that.”
Clemson QB expects to play
Expect to see Kelly Bryant at quarterback for Clemson on Saturday.
Bryant hurt his ankle and had to leave the team’s game against Wake Forest. A week later against Syracuse and still hobbled from the ankle issue, Bryant suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return in a game that Clemson lost.
The Tigers didn’t play last week, which gave Bryant additional time to recover.
“I can’t jump in his body. I just watch practice,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “If he can practice and do everything we ask our players to do in practice, then there should be no reason why he can’t play.”
So far, so good, Swinney said.
“He’s taken every rep, doing a great job,” Swinney said. “It’s a long season. Most everybody’s got something that they’re dealing with. But Kelly looks good. Hopefully he won’t have any setbacks and will play a great game Saturday.”
Bryant has rushed for 393 yards and seven touchdowns and thrown for 1,375 yards and four touchdowns.