1. The Georgia Tech defense showed better effort Saturday after a sluggish performance against Middle Tennessee State. Still, Clemson finished the game with 601 yards of offense, the Tigers’ season high.
For Tech, it wasn’t a high, just part of the trend. In the past three games, the Yellow Jackets have allowed 609, 510 and 601 yards in losses to Miami, Middle Tennessee State and Clemson. They’re three of the five highest totals in coach Paul Johnson’s five-year tenure at Tech.
“They’re pretty good offensively,” Johnson said of the Tigers. “They’re the best crowd we’ve played offensively, but it’s been a struggle.”
Tech had three sacks and two interceptions. With outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and cornerback Louis Young back in the lineup after injuries, the unit played with more energy. However, missed tackles repeatedly hurt the Jackets again, the same bugaboo that brought them to ruin in losses to the Hurricanes and Blue Raiders. Clemson players slipped tackles in the backfield multiple times, plays that could have helped end drives but instead extended them.
As per team policy, defensive coordinator Al Groh was not made available for post-game interviews.
2. Groh returned to the sideline to call the game. Last week, Groh went to the coaches box at Johnson’s suggestion to get plays called into the sideline more quickly. This week, Groh described the surroundings as “very sterile” and chose to call plays from the sideline.
Inside linebacker Quayshawn Nealy, out for the game, secondary coach Charles Kelly and Groh called in plays side-by-side from the sideline with hand signals. Behind them, reserve linebacker Tremayne McNair held up one of a collection of boards with pictures and numbers on it, ranging from ESPN personalities Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, a camel, a golfer, a helicopter and a golf ball . Oregon’s offense uses a similar system for signaling in plays from the sideline.
Nose tackle Shawn Green was vague on the operation.
“We were just signaling in,” he said.
3. A-back Orwin Smith continued his run of productive play with 117 rushing yards and a touchdown on only seven carries, a 16.7 yards-per-carry average. He also caught one pass for 32 yards.
“It just happened to go my way a couple times,” Smith said.
Smith was on the receiving end of one of the decisive plays of the game, a safety in which he was tackled in the end zone by linebacker Spencer Shuey after taking a pitch from quarterback Tevin Washington. A missed block opened up the play for Clemson.
“There was a slew of (Clemson) people out there,” Johnson said. “There weren’t many people blocked.”
Smith said he and Washington saw a crease when Washington made the pitch, but that Shuey, hidden behind the Clemson line, shot through to make the stop.
4. Nealy dressed, but sat out the game with an undisclosed injury. It was the first game the redshirt sophomore missed in his career. Jabari Hunt-Days and Daniel Drummond played the two inside linebacker spots.
Center Jay Finch was injured in the first half of the game and did not return. He was replaced by Catlin Alford, who was in the game when a botched snap killed a Tech drive in the third quarter.
“There’s no reason for that,” Johnson said. “We practice that every day.”
Guard Omoregie Uzzi and Smith were also sidelined with injuries but came back into the game.
5. Clemson beat Tech for just the second time in the past seven tries. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is now 2-4 against the Jackets.
The Jackets were ransacked by the Clemson offense. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for a career-high 397 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. He completed 26 of 41 passes.
Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns, one of them a 58-yarder.
“It was a complete game and we won every quarter, especially the fourth quarter,” Swinney said. “The second half was a thing of beauty.”
6. A-backs Tony Zenon, Broderick Snoddy, Synjyn Days, Robbie Godhigh and Smith and cornerback Louis Young were among those wearing pink socks or wraps on their arms. October is breast cancer awareness month. Many NFL players are participating by wearing pink on game days. … Linebacker Chris Crenshaw wore jersey No. 40 for the game in honor of former linebacker Julian Burnett, who suffered a career-ending neck injury in last season’s Sun Bowl. … Tech has its bye week coming up and won’t play again until Oct. 20, a home game against Boston College.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog