By Will Vandervort
Here is an inside look at the Georgia Tech-Clemson series as the sixth-ranked Clemson Tigers host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Memorial Stadium in Clemson on Thursday. The game will be televised by ESPN with kickoff set for 7:31 p.m.
About the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: Georgia Tech is on a three-game winning streak with wins over Syracuse, Virginia and Pittsburgh. The Jackets leads the ACC and rank fifth nationally in rushing offense with an average of 311 yards a game. The Tech defense also ranks in the top 13 in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense.
The Georgia Tech offense: It seems simple. Stop the Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack and you stop Georgia Tech. The problem is no one can seem to stop or even slow them down. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 5.5 yards per carry. If the Tigers can slow Tech’s running game down, then they have them right where they want them. Quarterback Vad Lee is only completing 46.5 percent of his passes for 1,005 yards. Lee is averaging 111.7 yards per game through the air.
The Georgia Tech defense: The Yellow Jackets have played quite well defensively as mentioned above. Defensive ends Jeremiah Attaochu and Emmanuel Dieke give Tech two solid pass rushing ends and Jemea Thomas and Desmond Smith are two ball-hawking safeties in the secondary. Smith leads the team with 58 tackles and has eight passes defended, which also leads the team. Linebacker Brandon Watts has 47 tackles as the best in a linebacking corps that can be suspect at times.
The Georgia Tech Special Teams: Georgia Tech is averaging 24.5 yards per kick return with Lynn Griffin averaging 30.5 yards on six kicks and Jamal Golden averaging 27.8 on five returns. DeAndre Smelter is averaging 15.4 yards on eight punt returns. Placekicker Harrison Butker has made 5 of 8 field goal tries with a long of 49, while punter, Sean Poole, is averaging 44.1 yards per punt, including a net average of 38.6 which is one of the best averages in the ACC.
Records: Clemson 8-1, 6-1 ACC; Georgia Tech 6-3, 5-2 ACC
Series record: Georgia Tech leads the series 50-26-2
Last year: Clemson won 47-31 in Clemson
Last Georgia Tech win: 31-17 in Atlanta, 2011
Stat worth noting: Since Georgia Tech played in the ACC for the first time in 1983, no series in the conference has been more competitive than the Clemson-Georgia Tech series. Tech holds a slight 16-15 edge in the series since then and 12 of the last 18 games have been decided by five points of less.
Memorable game: Woodrow Dantzler had one of the best all-around games of his career with 164 yards rushing and 254 yards passing in Clemson’s 47-44 overtime victory in Atlanta in 2001. He threw for two scores and ran for two more, including a 38-yard “Hail Mary Run” on the last play of the first half to cut Tech’s lead to 19-14 at intermission. His 63-yard scoring pass to J.J. McKelvey with 1:58 left put Clemson ahead by three, but Tech tied the count with a 20-yard field goal with just six seconds left. Dantzler’s “walk-off” 11-yard touchdown in overtime gave Clemson the win.