Taking a closer look at Georgia Tech’s near upset of No. 6 Clemson

Georgia Tech quarterback Jordan Yates (13) throws a pass as Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich (31) defends in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Caption
Georgia Tech quarterback Jordan Yates (13) throws a pass as Clemson cornerback Mario Goodrich (31) defends in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

CLEMSON, S.C. – Georgia Tech nearly pulled the upset Saturday night, falling to No. 6 Clemson 14-8 at Memorial Stadium. A quick breakdown of the game:

Stat of the game

Clemson had not been held under 20 points in an ACC game since losing 28-6 to Tech in 2014. Likewise, the Tigers’ 284 yards of total offense was their fewest since the same loss to Tech, when they gained 190 yards.

ExploreSteve Hummer: It's a loss but an encouraging one

Wrinkle of the game

Tech’s defense came out in a 3-3 (three defensive linemen, three linebackers) look for the first time this season after playing out of a 4-2-5 (four linemen, two linebackers, five defensive backs) as its base defense throughout coach Geoff Collins’ tenure. Collins said that the defense had worked on the 3-3 look throughout the preseason, but didn’t think it was ready for the first two games.

“And then once the guys were really confident in playing it, we rolled it out there (Saturday) and they did a really nice job with it,” Collins said.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said that Tech lined up in “absolutely nothing that we prepared for.”

Play of the game

With 18 seconds remaining and Tech down 14-6, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude called for a shovel pass from quarterback Jordan Yates to tight end Dylan Deveney coming from right to left through the interior of the line.

Clemson linebacker James Skalski was able to evade a block attempt by right guard Ryan Johnson as he pulled to the left, stopping Deveney shy of the goal line.

In the spotlight

Quarterback Jordan Yates, making his second career start and first on the road, completed 20 of 33 passes for 203 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Critically, the offense did not commit any turnovers in 72 snaps and gained 309 yards of total offense. Yates said he was told on Tuesday or Wednesday that he would be the starter ahead of Jeff Sims.

“I think Yates had great poise and handled the environment well,” wide receiver Kyric McGowan said. “When we were in the huddle, keeping the guys encouraged, keeping us level-headed, no matter if it was a good play or a bad play, keeping us all level, making sure all things were intact. I think he handled it very well.”

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts after a Tech field goal in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Caption
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts after a Tech field goal in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Clemson, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, in Clemson, S.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Quote of the game

“If we prepare and we play like we did this week, we can play with anybody.”

-- Collins

What’s next

Tech will play No. 21 North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Tar Heels defeated Virginia 59-39 on Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C. to improve to 2-1.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks