After a relatively slow start for Clemson the Tigers came out and dominated the second quarter behind Trevor Lawrence’s impressive performance. The triple option wasn’t able to level the playing field enough for Georgia Tech to run the ball efficiently or explosively. The Yellow Jackets were only able to generate two first downs in this quarter, one on a personal foul.
Clemson’s defensive tackles did yeoman work going against yet another option team, and the linebackers took advantage. J.D. Davis in particular put in an excellent game. The Tigers spent a good chunk of time in a 3-4 front, allowing one of the ends to use their speed to make tackles. Georgia Tech had a hard time moving the ball on the perimeter. Between this, penalties and fumbles GT often found itself staring at third and long.
The Yellow Jackets faced 3rd&6, 3rd&13 and 3rd&10 on consecutive possessions.
Taquon Marshall is not much of a passing threat. This is the second time he’s made this exact mistake on an option route in as many weeks. Pittsburgh was able to intercept it. The offensive line wasn’t able to do much against the Tigers pass rush.
The Yellow Jackets were able to score after an inexplicable turnover from Lawrence. The defense is outflanked once the ball is snapped. Simmons is trapped in no mans land and stuck with a lose-lose proposition. The safety probably wouldn’t have been able to tackle the pitch man here either.
Now feels like the time to point out that one month into the season we still don’t know much about the secondary. They’ve been able to shut down option teams and got lit up by Texas A&M. The rest of the schedule will resemble the Aggies, at least schematically, a lot more than Georgia Tech.
Outside of that turnover (the thing Lawrence and Bryant have most in common? Bad at screens) the offense had a nearly perfect quarter. Feaster and Etienne took turns bludgeoning the Tech front on the opening drive. ScElliot seem to be trying to work the bucksweep back into the offense, and it’s showing promise.
Lawrence isn’t being used as a runner nearly as often as Bryant, but is able to take advantage of his mobility here.
Georgia Tech is in cover two, with Clemson running smash. When running cover two against smash the cornerback has to get underneath the corner route to help the safety out, otherwise the wide receiver has favorable leverage. The possibility of Lawrence running the ball is enough to delay help from the corner (who are taught to keep everything inside in this coverage) and create a window.
The threat of Lawrence in the deep passing game gives a team that struggled to generate big plays a new element. He’s making the right reads on RPO’s and has a developing chemistry with Justyn Ross. Even when Clemson was moving the ball well last year they weren’t scoring in two plays.
The offensive line had a mostly impressive performance. Hyatt got beat a few more times than you’d like to see down the stretch, and Anchrum was called for a false start. For the most part it’s hard to complain though. Georgia Tech struggled to generate any reliable pressure. The guards, in particular John Simpson, did a good job blocking the second level in the running game.
Lawrence has been performing better on opening drives than he is the rest of the game, which raises questions about how he’ll perform in longer stretches. Still, this was his most impressive game so far, and this quarter might be looked back on as his coming out party.