Clemson score vs. Georgia Tech takeaway: Tigers offense overcomes slow start to win big in Atlanta

ATLANTA — Overcoming a sloppy and slow start that was all too familiar, No. 4 Clemson outshot Georgia Tech 41-10 on Monday night as the Tigers look to return to the top of the ACC after falling short of expectations. in 2021. DJ Uiagalelei, who came under scrutiny in the offseason after a lackluster sophomore campaign, was 19 of 32 passing for 209 yards and a touchdown. The junior also added a massive 9-yard touchdown run with 1:43 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 24-10, putting the game out of reach for the Yellow Jackets.

A scoreless game after a quarter with both sets of offenses struggling out of the gate, the first spark of the night came from Clemson’s Carson Donnelly, who blocked a Georgia Tech punt and l brought it back to the 5 meter line. This set up a four-play touchdown that ended with a 1-yard touchdown by Will Shipley to finally put the Tigers on the scoreboard.

Uiagalelei sped things up on the next drive when he led the Tigers on an eight-game walk and threw his only touchdown pass of the night – a 6-yard pass to Beaux Collins in the back of the end zone to make it 14-0.

However, Georgia Tech had its chances. Quarterback Jeff Sims found EJ Jenkins for a 13-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter to cut the score to 14-10. However, the Tigers’ stifling defensive front kept the Yellow Jackets from sustaining practices for most of the night. The Sims completed 23 of 36 passes for 164 yards, one touchdown, one interception and 41 rushing yards.

Here are the best takeaways from Monday night’s game.

Clemson has a QB battle

OK, so it won’t be “official” until late September after Furman and Louisiana Tech come to town, but anyone watching might see it. Despite decent stats on paper, Uiagalelei remains heavy in an offense that was once a force under former quarterbacks like Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson and Tajh Boyd.

Uiagalelei, who had a fumble early in the first quarter, was essentially relegated to a “one read and one bail” quarterback for most of the night. Although he had quite a bit of pressure on his face which forced him off his mark, he didn’t look much different from last year when he completed 55.6% of his passes and threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9).

The Clemson crowd yearned for freshman Cade Klubnik, and they got their wish at their team’s final practice. Klubnik, a five-star prospect and the No. 6 player overall in the latest recruiting class, was 4 of 6 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown — a nice 3-yard touchdown pass to Will Taylor to cap a 10-play, 66-yard drive.

Yes, the game was in the books at that time. Still, when you combine Uiagalelei’s first three-plus terms with his lack of production last season, a full-time switch – or at least an extended experience – should at least be considered.

Clemson’s defensive front is the real deal

The Tigers were widely considered to have one of the most talented defenses in the nation, especially up front with Bryan Bresee, Tyler Davis, Myles Murphy and KJ Henry lining the line. They lived up to that hype on Monday.

Those four lived in the Yellow Jackets’ backfield, forcing seven tackles for loss and allowing just 4.5 yards per play. On the night, the Tigers’ defense gave up just two third conversations on 16 attempts.

Henry was the star of the show with six tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble. The elder was a force from the start when he hit Sims on the opener of the game which resulted in an interception by Andrew Mukuba.

Tonight was Henry’s night, and the opposing offensive coordinators will have to focus more on him moving forward. This will simply open up even more room for the rest of his teammates up front to do damage.

Offensive line needs work, though

Clemson’s defensive line was a force, but the same can’t be said for the other side of the line of scrimmage. The Tigers allowed just one sack, but the stats don’t always tell the whole story. Uiagalelei was running for his life and the Yellow Jackets, who often only brought four, disrupted the running game behind the line all night.

The offensive line was a concern early in the season, and coach Dabo Swinney must be feeling even worse about leaving tonight’s game. The Tigers have tough conference games with Florida State and Miami — two defenses that looked solid in Week 1 — and a trip to Notre Dame still on the schedule. It could be tough games for Clemson in the trenches.

If this problem is not resolved, it is difficult to imagine this team as a real threat to make the college football playoffs.

Geoff Collins must prove he deserves to stay

Collins is now 9-26 as head coach of the Yellow Jackets, and tonight’s game against Clemson was a perfect example of why he was a disappointment. Simply put, some decisions were downright awful.

In one of his most egregious choices, Collins opted to take a 10-second second round to put the clock at 33 seconds at the end of the first half as Clemson had already lined up to kick a punt. despite his three timeouts in his back pocket. . Then he burned his three second-half timeouts before the 11th minute of the fourth quarter.

Additionally, Collins took the ball from Sims on a fourth-and-2 while dropping 14 points on the Georgia Tech 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter, even though Sims was the team’s top rusher at the start. ‘era. Clemson was clearly the better team on Monday, but even a few better situation calls may have made things more interesting. Those types of decisions could be more costly in closer games this year.

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