ATLANTA (Nov. 9) — Clemson coming in here is a different type of Clemson than in past years, said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary has the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets prepare to host the Tigers in a key Atlantic Coast Conference battle Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field in a 12 noon kickoff (Fox Sports Net South).
Their offense is wide open, anywhere from no backs to one back to two backs to three backs and they’re doing a good job getting the ball around the field, continued O’Leary at his weekly press conference. Defensively, they’re playing well. Again, it’s a game we’re going to have to work extremely hard at.
|Highlight: Tech’s Marvious Hester returned a Virginia punt to the Wahoo 18, setting up Sean Gregory’s first quarter score. [399k .MOV]|
Clemson (5-4, 5-2 ACC), which is coming off a 58-7 win over Duke, is in second place in the ACC standings, one-half game ahead of Georgia Tech (6-2, 4-2 ACC) following the Yellow Jackets’ 45-38 loss at Virginia.
I’m happy the way the kids are approaching this week, said O’Leary. I think they understand that we didn’t get things done when we had the opportunity, but have to move on, and we have a very good Clemson team coming here Saturday.
It was a disappointing loss, but as I told the players, we’re playing 11 one-game seasons and that basically was the eighth season, so we’re into this game this weekend with Clemson as the ninth season, and that’s what they should be concerned with and that’s what they are concerned with.
Any time you lose, it’s a team loss. All three phases had opportunities to make big plays and we didn’t get enough of that done. Credit Virginia and Thomas Jones, an outstanding running back. With seven minutes left and the score 31-31, I thought that their experience on the offensive line took over, and some of our players were a half a step behind some plays, and that’s when you have to rise up and make plays.
Tech’s young defense, which starts three true freshmen, one redshirt freshmen and five sophomores, will have to contend with a Clemson offense that has welcomed back the return of starting quarterback Brandon Streeter from a broken collarbone. Streeter completed 22 of 30 passes for 279 yards last Saturday against Duke. Sophomore Woodrow Dantzler performed well in four starts in Streeter’s absence. Both quarterbacks have passed for better than 1,000 yards, and Dantzler is the Tigers’ second-leading rusher with 443 yards.
Streeter looks more comfortable back there in that offense, said O’Leary. Dantzler is an outstanding athlete who is like another running back. There are two different approaches when those guys are in the game, two different styles. Dantzler is going to carry the ball a little more. Streeter can carry it, but is probably a little more polished thrower right now.
The Yellow Jackets continue to lead the nation in scoring (41.1) and total offense (507.4), but the Tigers lead the ACC and rank seventh nationally in pass defense. Clemson also stands third in the league in both total defense and rushing defense while leading the ACC with 36 quarterback sacks. Linebacker Keith Adams leads the ACC in tackles (134) and sacks (11) and is a semifinalist for the Football News National Defensive Player of the Year award.
The last three games between Tech and Clemson have each been decided by three points, with the Jackets claiming last-minute victories each of the last two years, 24-21 on Joe Burns’ touchdown with 1:00 left at Clemson last fall and 23-20 on Brad Chambers’ field goal with 1:54 left in Atlanta in 1997. In fact, seven of the nine meetings in the 1990s have been decided by four points or fewer. Tech leads the overall series, 41-20-2.