During ESPN’s College Football Final show, analysts Joey Galloway and Jesse Palmer commented on third-ranked Clemson’s 10-3 loss to No. 5 Georgia in the Duke’s Mayo Classic at Bank of America Stadium on Saturday night.
Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei was sacked seven times — the most sacks the Tigers have allowed in a game under Dabo Swinney.
“This is the story of the game,” Palmer said. “Clemson could not protect D.J. U — seven sacks for the Bulldogs.”
“It’s an offensive line for Clemson that returns four starters, so you expected them to be able to hold up a little bit more,” Palmer added. “But it didn’t matter if Georgia was rushing three, four, if they were blitzing linebackers and safeties — it just seemed like [Georgia head coach] Kirby Smart and that defensive staff, they were always one step ahead.”
Added Galloway: “Every single time you saw a sack, the offensive line looked at one another, like what are we going to do about this, and they had no answer.”
The turning point in the game came late in the second quarter when Georgia’s Christopher Smith jumped in front of a Uiagalelei pass intended for Justyn Ross and intercepted it before taking it to the house for a 74-yard pick-six.
It gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with 2:58 left before halftime, and that’s all the points they would end up needing.
“Clemson’s defense was keeping them in this game,” Palmer said. “Georgia only had 256 yards of offense, but they needed a defensive play to steal the momentum. Christopher Smith did that just there.”
“You see some confusion,” Galloway added of Uiagalelei’s interception. “So, he has time to throw this one. Didn’t have much time all night. He has time to throw this one. Didn’t read the coverage, didn’t see the safety, stared down his receiver. Georgia made him pay.”
Although Clemson has 11 games left in the regular season, Palmer sees its season-opening loss to UGA as a “huge hit” to the ACC’s chances of making the College Football Playoff, with North Carolina and Miami having already lost to Virginia Tech and Alabama, respectively, and without a true marquee game left on Clemson’s schedule.
“If you’re Clemson, where’s the statement win left on the schedule?” Palmer said. “NC State, Boston College, Wake Forest? They’re not playing UNC or Miami, but we already know now those two teams shouldn’t be in the discussion. So, a huge hit for the conference’s chances of getting in the College Football Playoff.”
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