Senior safety 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.
Top-ranked Clemson defeated Georgia Tech 52-14 on Thursday night in Death Valley thanks in large part to an outstanding defensive effort despite questions surrounding the unit after losing some key pieces from the 2018 Tiger defense.
The defensive backs showed out and lived up to Swinney’s claims that they were one of the best units of his tenure. Johnson in particular finished with five tackles on the game including four solo tackles and an interception.
In the second quarter, Johnson stuffed Yellow Jacket quarterback Tobias Oliver on third and goal from the 2, and followed the play by intercepting a tipped ball to keep Georgia Tech out of the end zone in the first half.
What Johnson saw on the interception:
“I saw the ball and then I looked at the quarterback in the eyes, and he looked at me in the eyes and looked like he was about to kill something. So, then I dropped my shoulder and gave him a little hit stick.”
Johnson impressed by Lawrence’s effort to make tackle following the interception:
“That was great because the average quarterback, he just will sulk and say, ‘Well I threw a pick.’ But Trevor, he just went out there and did his thing,”
Johnson got what he expected with the Yellow Jackets:
“It was actually very, very close to what we were expecting except for a few plays. It was difficult to prepare for at first but Coach Venables does a great job getting us prepared.”
Johnson proud of defensive line’s response to doubts:
“We showed them a little something. People have obviously doubted the line, but they did really well. I think we set a good example for that.”
Johnson blown away by the atmosphere:
“It is a great feeling to come out and play like that in the first game. It is an awesome feeling.”
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