Top-ranked Clemson rolled Georgia Tech in its season opener Thursday night with a 52-14 win in front of 79,118 fans in Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers looked out of sorts at times on offense but ran the ball for 411 yards behind Travis Etienne’s 205 yard and three touchdown day. Defensively the young defense held its ground holding the Yellow Jackets to under 300 yards on the evening, with a large chunk coming against relievers in the second half.
Every week The Clemson Insider gives out helmet stickers to players who contributed with outstanding individual performances.
Redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Simmons stood out on the Tiger defense and lived up to the headlines in the first game of the 2019 season. Simmons led Clemson tacklers with 10 total tackles and five solo tackles on the night.
On a defense with a lot of inexperience Simmons played like a veteran leader and showed he is hungry and ready to lead the Tiger defense.
The junior wide receiver showed up and showed out Thursday night leading all Clemson receivers in both catches and yards. Higgins caught four passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.
In the second quarter, Higgins went up and over Georgia Tech defensive back Zamari Walton on an underthrown ball and outran Walton to the end zone for a 62-yard score.
Junior Denzel Johnson made an impact particularly on a drive late in the second quarter following a would-be pick six that Trevor Lawrence forced into a goal line pinch for the Clemson defense.
Johnson stuffed Yellow Jacket quarterback Tobias Oliver on third and goal from the two and followed the play by intercepting a tipped ball on fourth and goal to keep Georgia Tech out of the end zone in the first half. He recorded five tackles on the game including four solo tackles.
Freshman wide receiver Frank Ladson only caught one ball on Saturday night but when the first catch of you Clemson career is a 21-yard touchdown you deserve a helmet sticker. Ladson also made it down the hill safely despite Tee Higgins comments earlier in the week thinking Ladson would take a tumble on his first gameday run down the hill.
B.T. Potter deserves a helmet sticker for his special teams efforts on Thursday night. He booted every kickoff out of the end zone, finished the night seven-for-seven on PATs and nailed a 51-yard field goal.
The field goal was the first longer than 50-yards by a Clemson kicker since Chandler Catanzaro met the mark in 2013, also against Georgia Tech.