Oct. 7, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
There was good news and quite a bit of it Saturday at Clemson.
Georgia Tech tackled better, played with more purpose than last week against Middle Tennessee State, the pass rush was improved and the Yellow Jackets moved the ball. They had a slew of big plays.
The end result was more bad news, though, because Clemson won, 47-31.
How to explain that?
Well, Tech struggled again on defense, yet it was less about missed tackles than it was about Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd (career high 397 passing yards on 41 attempts) and a couple of nearly remarkable wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.
There were a few schematic oofs, too, though they did not match the volume nor the amplitude of error of last week. Tech just didn’t measure up.
“You could tell early we were pumped up, that we had more passion,” said senior A-back Orwin Smith, who rushed for 117 yards and caught a 43-yard pass. “But it doesn’t matter if we had 1,000 yards if we don’t win. That’s what matters.”
Really, to explain not only how Tech lost Saturday but the Jackets’ season to date, there is a simple summation: things just aren’t adding up right. They’re doing more wrong things than right things.
You can change the phrasing, say that Tech is not getting breaks and suggest that opponents have had more luck. There may be something to that. But the results are the results. One game is one thing, multiple games are another matter.
A recap of what was just Tech’s second loss in the last seven games against Clemson will perhaps serve as a definition of this season.
In the event you didn’t see the game or you don’t know about it, here’s a recap laid out as a merger of chronology and analysis.
Neither team scored on its first possession with the Tigers whiffing first, yet there was significance in that trade-off.
Tech faced fourth-and-one right off the bat. The Jackets were at their own 37-yard-line. Tevin Washington was stuffed.
Clemson took advantage of the short field, and scored a few plays later for a 7-0 lead. Easy points.
Skipping far forward, and past the work Washington did while for the fourth time in his career both passing (144) and rushing for (104) 100 or more yards . . . another fourth down arrived.
This came after the Jackets took the second half’s opening drive 75 yards and went up 28-27 on Washington’s 4-yard run, a possession energized by his 43-yard run on third down moments earlier.
It also came after reserve nose tackle Shawn Green picked off a Boyd pass and returned it 17 yards to the Clemson 26.
Next thing you know, the Jackets faced fourth-and-one at the Clemson seven.
Making matters much worse than the three points Tech may have given up, Clemson drove 90 yards for a field goal that gave the Tigers a 30-28 lead.
Robert Godhigh, who rushed for a career-high 61 yards, had a 25-yard run and Smith added a 38-yarder to set up a Scully field goal. That gave Tech a 31-30 lead early in the fourth quarter.
That was it for the good news.
Clemson scored soon on a 35-yarder to Hopkins and the Tigers converted a two-point conversion as well for a 38-31 lead.
Nothing good happened after that for Tech.
The ensuing kickoff skipped and put Chris Milton in a bad spot, and as he scooped up the ball he went down at the Tech two-yard line.
Smith was nailed for a safety on the next play, and it wasn’t his fault.
The Tigers guessed well with their defensive call, and when he swept left on a toss . . . he, “saw a sliver of green, but it closed fast. I could kind of tell right away,” that it wasn’t going to be good. “It was a good call by their defensive coordinator.”
Linebacker Daniel Drummond soon intercepted a Boyd pass, but not long after that a Scully field goal attempt was blocked.
The Tigers then ran nearly six minutes off the clock, and that was that.
Johnson’s offense rolled up 483 yards of offense and averaged a lofty 8.1 yards on every snap. But Clemson had 601 yards and converted 13-of-19 third downs, keeping the Tech defense on the field. Add a lost fumble, a safety and two missed field goals, and…
Tech lost by 17.
What are you gonna do?
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