After a mostly quiet first three periods, Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers made two important plays on Georgia Tech’s most important drive. Bowers, who led the ACC was second in the nation in sacks (nine) coming into the game, dropped Joshua Nesbitt for a 5-yard loss on first-and-10 at Tech’s 44-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Four plays later, he stopped Nesbitt for a 2-yard loss on third-and-7 on Clemson’s 30-yard line. The Yellow Jackets needed a score to cut the Tigers’ deficit to eight points. Instead, Blair missed the subsequent 49-yard field goal.
“We all had a chip on our shoulder after the ACC championship game last year, and it feels good to get it off,” said Bowers, who finished with seven tackles and 2 1/2 tackles for loss.
Bowers was just one of the problems for the line. Johnson said the Tigers’ starters will likely play in the NFL.
Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt was perhaps being polite when he said that the offensive line didn’t have its best day.
It was a sentiment echoed by Johnson, and two more players. The Jackets rushed for 242 yards, 86 less than their season average, and could only push the offense into the end zone in the red zone once in three trips.
Johnson tried to defend the players, citing its inexperience.
“You’ve got seniors whacking around freshmen and sophomores,” Johnson said. “That’s what happened.” The Yellow Jackets’ rotation included two seniors, a redshirt junior, three redshirt sophomores and two redshirt freshmen, among others.
But he didn’t let inexperience go as the sole excuse. He said the team’s issues inside the 20-yard line are more of a matter of aggressiveness.
“When the field closes off you’ve got to block somebody,” Johnson said. “The finesse and all … you’ve got to be able to put your hand down and knock somebody back to get in.”
Tech’s streak of conference road wins was stopped at five games. … It was its first loss on the road to an Atlantic Division team since 2007. … Tech is 10-5 on the road under Johnson. … Tech needs another win to become bowl eligible for the 14th consecutive season. … Tech is 3-10 under Johnson when trailing after the third quarter. … Joining Nesbitt and Brad Jefferson as captains this week were defensive end Robert Hall and wide receivers Correy Earls. …