When a team puts up 73 points on one of its rivals, it is easy for its fans and the media to get excited about its offense.
However, the least talked about part of Clemson’s 73-7 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday was its defense. The Tigers held a Yellow Jackets’ offense that racked 400-plus yards on each of its first four opponents to a season-low 204 yards.
“I was just really proud of our guys for how they came out and really responded to an early turnover by our offense and just having the right mindset, going on the road with an early morning game,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. “The first couple of drives were three-and-outs and just set the tempo.”
The Tigers (5-0, 4-0 ACC) held Tech to 2-of-14 on third down and 0-for-3 on fourth-down conversions. The defense also recorded five sacks, had 12 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers.
Even when Clemson did give up a big play—a 59-yard Jeff Sims to Jalen Camp touchdown in the first quarter—the defense came back out and shut the Yellow Jackets down the rest of the afternoon.
Georgia Tech (2-3, 2-2 ACC) averaged just 2.8 yards per carry, while Sims finished the game just 6-of-13 for 81 yards. He was also intercepted by Nolan Turner in the second quarter, which set up another Clemson touchdown.
“We came back and respond. There were no excuses and really just a tough, strong mindset that we control what we control,” Venables said. “Early in the game, we really created some momentum, and we were able to get into good rhythm and again had some fourth-down stops, which to me are like turnovers. They were giving up field position.
“That is how you start to try and develop an identity and again, just a mindset, no smoke-and-mirrors. It is just good fundamental, tough football and being what we are supposed to be.”
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