Life could be a little tough for Georgia Tech than originally expected when the Yellow Jackets host No. 2-ranked Clemson Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
The Yellow Jackets (1-2) could be without starting offensive linemen Will Bryan and Andrew Marshall when the two teams kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson indicated the two offensive linemen could miss the game when answering a question about their value in Tuesday’s press conference.
When asked if he expected the two to play on Saturday, Johnson responded with an “I don’t know.”
According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Bryan missed last week’s game against Pitt due to a lower-body injury, while Marshall left the Pitt game and did not return thanks to a lower-body injury as well.
Johnson did not give the specifics of the injuries.
Bryan and Marshall have combined to start 37 games for the Yellow Jackets, who lead the nation in rushing at 392.6 yards per game. Missing both starters will make what is already a difficult challenge to run the ball on Clemson even more difficult.
In the last three years, Tech is averaging just 121.3 rushing yards per game against the Tigers, including just 2.95 yards per carry. The Yellow Jackets have just two rushing touchdowns in those three games.
Clemson (3-0) is considered to have the best defensive line in the country.
The Tigers headed into Saturday’s game with one of the nation’s best defenses. The Tigers rank 10th nationally in total defense, giving up just 268 total yards per game. They are allowing just 13.3 points per game, 15th nationally, and 89.3 rushing yards per game, 16th nationally.
Of course, it all starts up front with defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant. The Tigers rank third nationally in sacks (12) and fifth in tackles for loss with 29. The defensive line is responsible for the majority of the tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
“The challenge becomes just trying to block them or read them to get to the second level,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, with the nature of what we do, we will not have to block all of those guys and maybe we will be able to double some of them.”
As for why Clemson has had so much success against the Yellow Jackets, Bryant says it is simple. It is all because of defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
“Coach V comes up with a great plan for us that we can execute,” the senior said. “He keeps it simple. He does not make anything too complicated. He allows us to play our keys, play fast, read our keys and make plays.”
And if Bryan and Marshall don’t play, then the Tigers might be making even more plays in the backfield on Saturday.