For the first time in years, Clemson football has plenty to worry about during the regular season. Weeks after losing their season opener to Georgia, they went down to the wire against a Georgia Tech team that is yet to find its footing under Geoff Collins.
Clemson hoped that former five-star recruit D.J. Uiagalelei would step right in for Trevor Lawrence, and lead another dynamic offense. It certainly doesn’t all fall on the quarterback—Clemson’s offensive line looks fairly pedestrian and the Tigers don’t have the weapons they often do—but the team has some major issues to figure out.
They managed just one field goal in the 10-3 loss to Georgia. The Week 2 win came against South Carolina State, an overmatched FCS club. Today, they scored just 14 points, all on Will Shipley rushing touchdowns.
One major issue, according to Dabo Swinney: Georgia Tech completely altered what it typically does on defense to face Clemson. That is a risky move, but it worked today, as Clemson was completely ill prepared to move the ball against the Ramblin’ Wreck.
Dabo Swinney says Georgia Tech lined up in "absolutely nothing that we prepared for."
— Grace Raynor (@gmraynor) September 19, 2021
“Offensively, they absolutely lined up in nothing we prepared for,” Swinney said. “(They) decided they were going to make us go everything in-between the tackles and not give up the big play.”
Swinney pointed out that the team was limited to eight possessions, and had extended drives of at least eight plays on six of those. The team was also effective on third down, converting nine of 15 attempts. Still, the scoreboard doesn’t lie. Clemson only had 284 yards of offense, and scored just 14 points to a team that allowed 17 to Kennesaw State and 22 in a loss to Northern Illinois this year.
“I think that was a philosophy of theirs, to make us keep snapping it and see if we could finish the drives. And we did a poor job of finishing it,” Swinney added, via 247.
The ACC is far from a powerhouse this year, but Clemson could be ripe for another loss if the offense sputters the way it did today. That could put the league’s unbroken streak of College Football Playoff bids in serious jeopardy.