The countdown is on to Clemson football first in Athens (Georgia) and then back in TigerTown on Sept. 6 (S.C. State).
We’re counting down the Clemson schedule – by strength of schedule – with a quick profile, team I.D. and prediction.
The Tigers return to Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium, where they are winless in their last four tries.
Clemson Countdown to Kickoff
12) S.C. State
11) Georgia State
10) Wake Forest
9) N.C. State
6) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Plays Clemson: at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Nov. 15, time TBA.
2013 Record: 7-6 (5-3 ACC, fourth in the Coastal Division).
Coach: Paul Johnson (93-61 career record).
Offense (2013 ranks): Spread option (Scoring offense: 26, 35.1 PPG; Yards per play: 35, 6.1; Field position advantage: 85).
Defense (2013 ranks): 4-2-5 (Def. yards per play: 64, 5.5; Scoring defense: 29, 22.8 PPG; 3rd down defense: 34, 36.3%).
Advanced stats: Success Rate – 31 (46%); Points per trip inside the 40 – 15 (4.9); Adj. line yards – 12 (114.5); Def. Success Rate – 85 (43.9%); Def. points per trip inside the 40 – 38 (3.9); Def. adj. line yards – 62 (99.1).
Returning starters: Offense – 6; Defense – 5; Kickers – 1;
Georgia Tech Identity
1. Triple threat? - Georgia Tech’s offense is what it is under Paul Johnson, a modified triple option scheme that’s had its measure of success in Atlanta. Tech’s not exactly coming in hot, however, after their first finish outside of the top-five nationally rushing in Johnson’s six seasons on The Flats. They lose their top-three rushers, including B-back David Sims (884 yards/11 TD) and A-back Robert Godhigh (744 yards/7 TD). Atlanta-area B-back Zach Laskey leads the returning group with over a 1,000 career rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
2. New captain - After a couple of underwhelming seasons commanding the Yellow Jackets offense, Vad Lee transferred to James Madison, leaving the job a two-man race between redshirt sophomore Justin Thomas and junior Tim Byerly. Thomas has played the most between the two, making 10 appearances last season with 234 rushing yards (7.1 YPC/2 TD) and 131 passing yards (1 TD/2 INT/52.9 cmp%). Just one Jackets quarterback has topped a 150 QB rating (Tevin Washington, 155.37, 2011) or a 50 completion percentage (Washington, 56.4, 2012) under Johnson. Lee rushed for 513 yards with a Johnson-era-low 2.8 yards per carry last season.
3. Another new defense - Following the crowd, Georgia Tech is tinkering with a 4-2-5 scheme losing its leader in tackles (DB Jemea Thomas, 88), tackles for loss (DE Jeremiah Attaochu, 16) and sacks (Attaochu, 12.5). They were a 3-4 scheme two years ago and 4-3 last season, returning junior tackle Adam Gotsis (14.5 TFL in 2013) and senior linebacker Quayshawn Nealy (66 tackles) under second-year defensive coordinator Ted Roof. Tech finished in the top-30 nationally in scoring defense for the first time in five seasons last year (22.8 PPG).
Projected Record: 6-6 (3-5 ACC).
(Way too early) Georgia Tech pick: 38-24 Tigers.
Analysis: Ultimately, Clemson’s recent history at Georgia Tech isn’t that big a factor in this one, but Tech has an 11-point home margin of victory over Big Five teams the last three seasons, including the 31-17 win over the Tigers in 2011. The Yellow Jackets, oddly enough, have scored 31 points in each of the last three in the series, but Clemson’s scored 51 points per game to take the last two. On the last Tech trip, the Tigers fell behind 24-3 in the first half and committed three turnovers in the second half. A negative turnover margin isn't a winning formula on the road and this year's version of the interstate rivalry is no different.
Next up: 5) Louisville Cardinals – What can we expect from the ACC newcomers?