The first half of Clemson and Georgia’s marquee matchup could be described as college football’s version of a pitcher’s duel.
Two of the top defenses in the country found their match, trading punch for punch in Saturday night’s heavyweight battle.
While J.T. Daniels looked sharp, precise and accurate, the Bulldogs didn’t exactly stretch the football down the field and Clemson’s defense giving Georgia a lot of zone looks certainly didn’t help in that department.
Daniels finished the first half completing 13 of 16 passes with 68 passing yards. Georgia also totaled 42 rushing yards on 12 carries, using a running back by committee approach out of the backfield.
While Georgia didn’t score an offensive touchdown, the Bulldogs were able to control the battle of field position and get some points on the board, thanks to some great defensive anticipation from Christopher Smith, who returned D.J. Uiagalelei’s intended pass for Justyn Ross for a pick-six.
Georgia was able to convert on 3 of 7 third downs while picking up a total of six first downs in the game’s first 30 minutes. Still, Clemson was able to get necessary stops when called upon, including a little bit of luck when Bulldogs kicker Jack Podlesny pushed a 36-yard field goal attempt a little too far to the left.
Brent Venables’s unit certainly got the job down when called upon, especially with how much the offense struggled to string together successive drives throughout the course of the first half.
Clemson’s defense allowed just 110 yards of total offense from Georgia. The defense hasn’t backed down from any challenge or wrinkle that Georgia’s thrown its way thus far. Look for that to continue in the second half, in what’s been a neck and neck game.
So, who were some of Clemson’s top defensive performers in the first half?
Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee both came through with big 0.5 tackles for loss. Additionally, senior cornerback Mario Goordich, Jr. showed out during the first half, recording a total of nine tackles and providing some stout coverage. Trenton Simpson, who was everywhere during the 16 minutes that Georgia’s offense was on the field, also added a quarterback hurry.