Sorry for the delay. Anyway, I was trading texts after the game with my buddy Stewart, a Tech alumnus who flew down for the Miami game, and the last text he left me with was, “Got to wonder where we go from here.”
Kind of the question of the week, unless he was asking for suggestions about where he and his crew should party Saturday night. It doesn’t look great for reasons easily enumerated, starting with the cold front that’s swept over the Tech offense and the special teams that continues to underachieve. I wrote a story for Monday’s paper pointing out that Clemson scored more last Saturday than the Jackets have in their past three games.
I think the Jackets have a chance Saturday. Not a great one, but as much of a chance as Virginia had against Tech a few weeks back or Texas Tech was given against Oklahoma.
It’s something of a commentary on the season that I dust off this quote from Paul Johnson from two weeks ago that its intent is to offer hope for the Jackets against Clemson rather than provide caution against inflated expectations, which is how it would have been read when he said it two Mondays ago. It was in response to a question about Florida State’s struggles.
“That’s the nature of the game. The game is so fragile. It’s not as cut and dried (as you’d think). There might be three or four teams in the country that are just so talented (they can’t lose), but most of the teams aren’t that way now. On a given day, most anybody can beat anybody. You get three or four turnovers or something happens or somebody has an off day or somebody has a hot day. That’s why you play the games.”
On the to-do list for Tech this week:
1. Clean up execution issues on offense. Tech’s best shot is to hold onto the ball for 35 minutes plus and use those minutes productively. That won’t happen, obviously, if the recent problems clearing holes and not getting playmakers in space with the ball persist.
The fact that Clemson’s defense doesn’t inspire terror (378 yards per game) suggests that this could happen, but it didn’t help in Miami, which, coincidentally, averages 378.6 yards per game.
Clemson’s defensive line, including defensive end Andre Branch (ACC-best eight sacks this season) and tackle Brandon Thompson (41 tackles, likely first-round pick), is not to be trifled with.
2. Infuse some confidence into Tevin Washington. He’s in a funk.
3. Get some special teams answers. Clemson is pretty much the last team that needs a short field to score points. Two very important people this week are kickoff specialist David Scully and punter Sean Poole. Also on the list are the 11 gentlemen on the kickoff return team. Tech’s 19.56 yards per return average is 103rd in the country.
4. Decide how much to put Tech’s cornerbacks on an island. Cover-2 pass coverage will limit Clemson’s big-play potential, but will make it harder to pressure quarterback Tajh Boyd. Playing man against wide receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins frees up more possibilities to blitz Boyd, but, obviously, leaves the Jackets more vulnerable to big plays out of single coverage.
5. Hope that Clemson’s players busy themselves reading and hearing about how great they are. It seemed to work for Virginia.
Swinney isn’t spending much time thinking about the BCS rankings, says the Charleston Post and Courier.
Game stories from the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Quote from Hurricanes running back Mike James in the Sun-Sentinel story: “I mean, who holds Georgia Tech to seven points?”
Thanks for reading. I’ll have notes up after practice around 9:30.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog