Top-ranked Clemson danced its way through Saturday in an historically lopsided 73-7 win over Atlantic Coast Conference rival Georgia Tech.
The Tigers, who were only slightly tested in a win over Miami last weekend, rolled up impressive numbers behind Heisman favorite Trevor Lawrence, who tossed five touchdown passes in the first half. Clemson played three others under center, including punter Will Spiers, who went 2-for-3.
Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets had a game to forget. They lost by the biggest margin ever in an ACC game and allowed 52 points in the first half – the most points allowed in a half in an ACC game in the past 15 seasons.
Five takeaways from Saturday’s game in Atlanta:
Clemson’s defense allows margin of error the offense hasn’t really needed
There were a couple of empty possessions by Clemson in the first half because of turnovers and the Tigers still put up 52 points by halftime. So far this season, Clemson has been able to light up the scoreboard despite leaving points out on the field.
And yet there hasn’t been a close game yet.
That’s because the defense is so dominant. Virginia had 23 points a few weeks ago and that seemed alarming. After that, Miami’s highly touted offense had 10 against Clemson. Georgia Tech had only one big play against Clemson starters in the first half to account for more than half of the Yellow Jackets’ total yards at the break.
Clemson might have best group of tight ends in country
As if the Tigers’ potent offense needed more firepower besides quarterback Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and all the wide receivers, the tight ends are adding another element.
Davis Allen scored his second touchdown in two games. Last week, Braden Galloway scored twice. After no touchdowns from tight ends last year, Clemson has five from that position. J.C. Chalk, the third-stringer, had a TD in the season-opener. These guys are all top-notch blockers and also playmakers down the field.
Clemson’s offense has added another explosive weapon
It might take him a little while to get up to speed, but wide receiver Joseph Ngata was on the field Saturday and that’s more good news for the Tigers.
Ngata saw his first action since he was sidelined in preseason because of COVID-19 and other health-related issues. He seemed to be the next big-time playmaker to join Amari Rodgers as they replaced Tee Higgins (drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals) and Justyn Ross (out with injury).
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has said that Ngata “is as good as we’ve had here.”
Tough learning day for Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims
The Yellow Jackets believe they have a future star in Sims, a freshman. Sims was rated as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the country coming out of high school. He was off to a good start with nearly 1,000 passing yards while also leading the team in rushing through four games. He is seen as the right choice to lead Georgia Tech from its previous triple-option system into more of a passing attack.
He had his good moments Saturday, including a 59-yard touchdown pass early in the game. But he was mostly overwhelmed by Clemson’s swarming defense. It won’t always be this difficult for the rookie.
Clemson has double-jumbo goal line package that will be tough to stop
Swinney was asked if the Tigers had a formation with some defensive linemen that they could use in the backfield on offense.
He just smiled and said, “Maybe. We’ll see.”
On Saturday afternoon, we saw.
Clemson lined up from the 1-yard line with a couple of 300-pounders joining Lawrence behind the offensive line. Nyles Pinckney was at fullback and Bryan Bresee at halfback. Georgia Tech called a quick timeout before the snap to talk about what do to. But the Tigers didn’t change the play.
They came back with the same formation, Pinckney took the handoff and bulldozed into the end zone. Bresee faked like he was getting a pitch, still the offensive highlight of his freshman season so far.