CLEMSON — Following Clemson’s mauling of Georgia Tech Saturday, an ESPN reporter made the mistake of dropping a word coach Dabo Swinney has become sick of.
David Hale asked Swinney how his team approached each game differently with regards to “Clemsoning.” Swinney went on a tirade, saying that even mentioning that word was disrespectful, and pointing out that Clemson hasn’t “lost to anybody unranked since 2011, but I have to come a press conference in 2015 and get asked that.”
The Tigers came out fired up in front of another sellout crowd at Death Valley in the rain and built a 33-10 lead at the half. While the Tigers weren’t perfect, they were certainly dominant. Every Georgia Tech point came directly from Tiger miscues.
Two touchdown passes were completed against blown coverages, one touchdown came from a high snap that was recovered in the end zone, and the Yellow Jackets field goal came early after a fumble by the Tigers at their own 21.
Defensively, Clemson looked as good as they could have minus the two passes that combined for 96 of Georgia Tech’s 230 yards for the day. The Tigers gave up only 71 rushing yards to a team that was averaging over 300 yards per game. The rushing yards were the lowest in the tenure of Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson.
Clemson linebacker Dorian O’Daniel picked up three of the Tigers 11 tackles for loss, and seven total. O’Daniel, Ben Boulware, and Jayron Kearse were in the Yellow Jackets backfield all afternoon, wreaking havoc on quarterback Justin Thomas’ ability to run the option.
Offensively, the Tigers played as well as they have all year. Deshaun Watson passed for a season-high 265 yards and two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman had his third straight 100-yard rushing game and scored on two runs. Clemson’s offensive line, which had no returning starters from 2014, performed admirably albeit against an undersized Georgia Tech defensive line.
Prior to the season, the prevailing thought was that Clemson would not be able to get through the three game gauntlet of Louisville, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech unscathed. Now that they have, the Tigers are becoming a popular pick to run the table and make it into this year’s college football playoff.
One thing that is definite, though, these Tigers won’t be thinking about that. Dabo Swinney said Saturday of next week’s game against Boston College: “That’s the biggest game of the year.”
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.