Clemson opens the 2020 season in the same fashion as a year ago with a Thursday night opener against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech on Sept. 3.
This time the Tigers kickoff the season on the road in Atlanta’s Bobby Dodd Stadium on the new artificial playing surface that was just installed.
The Yellow Jackets return to campus Monday in hopes of improving on an underwhelming performance in head coach Geoff Collins’ first season at the helm.
Phase 1 of their reopening plan includes opening the weight room for scheduled workouts and small group meetings of 10 or less athletes. The Tech players will be divided into small groups for team activities and will not be able to utilize the locker room.
Georgia Tech Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury released a statement on May 28 and remained optimistic about the season opener amidst concerns over COVID-19.
“Implementing Phase I of our re-opening plan is a positive step towards hopefully being able to start our upcoming seasons as scheduled, including the highly anticipated football season opener against Clemson,” Stansbury said.
Tech finished the 2019 season 3-9 overall and 2-6 in the ACC in large part due to a new offensive system that replaced former coach Paul Johnson’s infamous triple option system in favor of Collins’ more balanced spread offense.
Last season the Yellow Jacket offense finished last in the nation in red-zone offense, 125th on third down conversions and averaged a measly 286 yards per game and 16.7 points per game. Tech’s first objective this offseason is to find a replacement at the quarterback position with freshmen Jeffrey Simms and Tucker Gleason vying for the top spot against returning sophomore James Graham who completed 87-of-193 passes for 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
At the skill positions Georgia Tech returns five of its six top receivers and hopes for more productions than the 124 catches and 14 touchdowns from a year ago. Tech returns the bulk of its running game in Jordan Mason and Jamious Griffin but need help in the trenches.
Expect their offensive line to take a step forward as it gained two 310-plus pound SEC transfers from Vanderbilt and Tennessee with Devin Cochran and Ryan Johnson at tackle and guard respectively.
Georgia Tech boasted the worst defense in the ACC last season and allowed 432 yards and 32 points per game in 2019 while finishing last in both tackles-for-loss and sacks. But on the bright side the Jackets return virtually their entire defense in 2020. In the secondary, they boast some of the best players in the conference in Tariq Carpenter and Tre Swilling but need help up front.
The Yellow Jackets have nowhere to go but up this season but are not poised to make a huge splash this year. Clemson should handle business in a similar fashion to last season’s opener as it kicks off the year in Atlanta.
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