By Will Vandervort
If there is anyone on the Clemson defense that understands how to defend Georgia Tech’s triple option offense it might be defensive end Vic Beasley.
In 2010, during his redshirt season, Beasley played the role of Josh Nesbit—who is about the same size and body type—on the scout team. He did such a good job impersonating the Yellow Jackets’ quarterback, the Tigers held Nesbit, who holds the Atlantic Coast Conference’s rushing record for a quarterback, to a career low minus-3 yards rushing in a 27-13 victory in Death Valley.
The redshirt junior also played the role of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas in 2011 when the Tigers beat the Hokies twice, including a second time in the ACC Championship game.
“He was a big back for us one year and we used him as the quarterback some in preparing for this particular game,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. “I used to sit there and think, ‘Man this guy is special. If we can ever get him a home he is going to be a good player.’”
Beasley has found his home at defensive end, and now, instead of helping give his defense a look on how to defend Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense, he is leading the way on how to stop it.
“It’s a different approach on how you defend it,” he said earlier this week. “They like to run the option. Different teams have different schemes. This game is all about playing technique and playing your assignments.”
It will be a little more difficult that just that. The Yellow Jackets rank fourth nationally and lead the ACC with 311 yards a game on the ground. Few in the county run the ball better and no team runs the triple option better than Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets.
Last year, though the Tigers won the game 47-31, Georgia Tech still rushed for 339 yards.
“You gotta do a great job at the line of scrimmage and really hold up at the point of attack,” Swinney said. “You gotta be very, very disciplined. Their scheme forces you to be incredibly disciplined. You can’t make mistakes.
“If you do, they’re chunk plays, 20 yards, 40 yards, those types of plays. You gotta do a great job of leveraging the ball. You have to have your eyes on the right things because if you don’t it’s a 50-yard play over the top of you.”
Luckily, Clemson (8-1, 6-1 ACC) has another week to prepare for the Yellow Jackets thanks to a bye week. It will give the Tigers extra time to look at the Yellow Jackets’ unique offense. Who knows, maybe this time defensive back Marcus Edmond, who is playing the role of quarterback Vad Lee on the scout team, will give Beasley and the defense the same kind of looks Beasley gave the veteran roster three years ago.
“He is pretty good,” Beasley said “He might have played quarterback or running back in high school. So far he is doing pretty good.”
Edmonds did play quarterback at Lower Richland High School in Columbia where he accounted for 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in his career.
“Marcus is doing a good job and is giving us a good look,” Swinney said.