Oct. 30, 2011
By: Jon Cooper
– Georgia Tech learned early Saturday night that, like most teams, it could neither stop nor contain Brandon Thompson.
They adjusted by basically doing nothing.
They basically let Clemson’s 6-2, 310-pound senior nose guard stop himself by doing what he wanted and reacting to it.
“Rather than block the guy sometimes you have to read him if you’re having a hard time blocking him,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson. “We were reading him on the B-Back. So we would turn him loose. If he ran up the field we handed off and if he took [the B-Back] then Tevin would pull it.”
“We just took the read key,” Johnson said. “We mixed it up. We mixed it up enough on him to where he didn’t know if he was getting blocked or not and he couldn’t just blow straight up the field all the time like he did to start the game.”
Thompson assisted on tackles on two of Tech’s first six offensive plays, which netted a total of seven yards and led to a pair of three-and-outs. But after that, he was only in on four plays the rest of the game, three of those coming on Tech’s 16-play, 58 yard drive that ate up 9:04 of the game’s final 10:33, preserving the 31-17 win and knocking the Tigers, ranked No. 5 in the BCS poll from the ranks of the unbeaten.
In between, Tech flustered the senior. He jumped offside on a third-and-one, giving the Yellow Jackets a first down and prolonging what would become a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, that extended the lead to 17-3. On that drive, Sims had a nine-yard run on first-and-10, a six-yard run on first-and-five, and a pair of short gains on first down to keep the defense honest (Thompson made the tackle on one play — his last stop until the fourth quarter) and setting up wide runs by Roddy Jones (21 yards) and Smith runs of 12 and the final three into the end zone.
Washington, who set a school- single-game, quarterback rushing record with 176 yards, including runs of 46 yards, setting a personal-best, then 56, setting a new career best, credited the offensive line’s push and ability to create holes.
“They were real big,” said Washington. “Anybody could have run through them. I was fortunate to be have my number called and got to run through them.”
Clemson wasn’t as fortunate.
“In a nutshell, we just physically got whipped. We got outexecuted,” said Clemson Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele. “Too many big plays, too many opportunities to get off the field and didn’t take it. That having been said, Georgia Tech did what they had to do. They’re a well-coached football team. They lined up and physically whipped us.”
“The defense didn’t execute. We didn’t get stops,” agreed junior defensive end Malliciah Goodman, who lined up next to Thompson. “We just got outplayed tonight. They basically executed where we didn’t.”
Saturday was Tech’s fifth win in six games against the Tigers and was a huge bounce-back win that snapped a two-game losing streak. It was the first win against a top-10 team since Oct. 17, 2009 against Virginia Tech.
Coincidentally, the Jackets’ next game, following their bye this week, is against the Hokies at Bobby Dodd on Thursday, Nov. 10.