The annual date with the triple-option

CLEMSON - Take nearly everything you know about the 2013 Clemson defense and throw it out the window. It's Georgia Tech week.

Next Thursday night, Paul Johnson brings his service academy-like offense back to Clemson for the annual divisional crossover game with the Yellow Jackets.

"Everybody knows that Georgia Tech is always that game of the year where you've always got to focus, because it's really, literally, all about eyes," said Robert Smith. "No matter what, you have to focus on your eyes all the time. It's like no other."

Certainly not like any team that Clemson has played this season. The odd part is Clemson has back-to-back dates with triple-option teams. Nine days after the Georgia Tech game, The Citadel comes to town for the Tigers' home finale.

Georgia Tech, as usual, is among the nation's top teams in rushing offense. On average, the Jackets are rushing for more than 310 yards a game. That's fifth-best in the country.

"They have a real good system and they believe in it. That's what makes it work," Smith said.

Quarterback Vad Lee, who's had a recent bout of the turnover bug, has rushed 138 times for 394 yards with six touchdowns. Justin Thomas, his backup, could also see some time under center. He's rushed for 182 yards and two scores.

The B-backs, David Sims and Zach Laskey, have combined for 1,037 yards and 15 touchdowns rushing.

Robert Godhigh is the best A-back on the roster -- he's got 473 yards and three touchdowns.

Even though Smith has just one career snap against Georgia Tech, he knows the drill this week.

"A lot of things go into it, the eyes, the technique, aggressive, physical, smart -- everything," Smith said.

To go along with the extended week of film and game prep, Smith will draw on his experience as a high school quarterback to help feel his way through Thursday night's game.

"Ever since I was in high school, teams that run that option gave us a problem, so I know what to look for and I know what to expect. I also know what the quarterback is trying to do, what the offensive coordinator is trying to do," Smith said. "We all know the option, what you want to do is lure everybody to sleep then want to take that shot over their heads."

Smith said, "We have to be real physical. We know it's going to be almost like Boston College, a real physical game.

"You have to be able to watch your aggression. You can't be too aggressive, lured down, then get the deep ball thrown over your head, so you've got to be aggressive, but you've also go to be smart, too."

CUTigers.com Top Stories