Monday Clemson Football Notebook

The Tigers need to get Andre Ellington healthy during the open date.

There's no secret to why Georgia Tech has enjoyed recent dominance over Clemson -- the Yellow Jackets have used the triple option to run wild against the Tigers since Paul Johnson became Tech's head coach four seasons ago.

In five games against Clemson since Johnson took over, the Yellow Jackets have shredded the Tigers for an average of 293 yards per game on the ground, which accounts for their 4-1 record against Clemson during that span.

The latest installment came Saturday as Clemson surrendered 383 yards rushing in a 31-17 loss at Georgia Tech that knocked the Tigers from the ranks of the unbeaten.

"They just flat-out whipped us," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "No excuses. We just did not execute our plan to win."

Now Swinney must get his 8-1 team to refocus during the team's upcoming bye week. The Tigers' national title hopes are gone, but there remains plenty to play for.

Clemson can clinch the ACC's Atlantic Division title by beating Wake Forest on Nov. 12, with a win sending them to a second ACC Championship game in three years.

"We have to learn from this and get recharged during the open date," Swinney said. "Our next goal is to win our division. That's what we've got to do, and then you have an opportunity to play for the conference championship. If you win this conference, you're going to a BCS (bowl)."

MONDAY NOTES: Clemson's first loss of the season was costly. The Tigers slipped six spots to No. 12 in the USA Today poll and five spots to No. 11 in the Associated Press poll on Sunday. The Tigers also fell from No. 5 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings to No. 11.

* Clemson scored on its first offensive possession against Georgia Tech, marking the sixth time in nine games Clemson has scored on its first possession. Clemson has scored three touchdowns and three field goals on its opening drive.


Tajh Boyd has done a nice job of spreading the wealth in Clemson's downfield passing game this season. (Roy Philpott)
By comparison, Clemson's defense has allowed the opposition to score just one touchdown and one field goal on its opening possession this season.

* A diverse passing game remains Clemson's calling card. QB Tajh Boyd connected with six receivers against Georgia Tech and continues to show the ability to throw the deep ball as well as the 10-yard out.

Although Sammy Watkins has stolen most of the headlines with his breakout freshman season, other receivers are on track for their best seasons, including DeAndre Hopkins, who has 43 catches, and Dwayne Allen, who already has a career-best five touchdown catches this season.

Also, junior Jaron Brown has made a career-high 18 catches this season, making it difficult for opponents to key on one player.

* Clemson's running game has languished the last couple of games, following up a 77-yard day against North Carolina with a 95-yard night against Georgia Tech. The loss of Andre Ellington to a sprained ankle hurt against Tech -- particularly considering he had a career-high 166 yards against the Jackets last season -- but coach Dabo Swinney was counting on more production out of backups D.J. Howard and Mike Bellamy.

Instead, their youth showed in a big way as they combined for three fumbles and just one carry longer than 13 yards.

With the open date this coming weekend, Ellington will get a much-needed break and hopefully be healthy for the Wake Forest game. The redshirt junior suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the year but it's an ankle injury that kept him out of Saturday's loss at Georgia Tech.

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