Brent Venables Part 1:
Deshaun Watson Part 1:
ATLANTA — Clemson snapped a five-game road losing streak in the series against Georgia Tech on Thursday, as the Tiger defense was once again dominant against the Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack in a 26-7 victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium. With the win, No. 3 Clemson moved to 4-0 on the season, 1-0 in the ACC. Tech fell to 3-1 overall, 0-1 in league play.
Brent Venables’ stingy unit allowed only 22 yards of total offense in the opening half and 124 for the game. Offensively, the Tigers were efficient in the opening half behind the passing of Deshaun Watson, who was 32-48 for a season-high 304 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson wasted no time in announcing its presence, as the Tigers put together a perfect 75-yard drive that ended with Mike Williams’ first receiving touchdown of the season, a four-yarder from Deshaun Watson. He marched Clemson into scoring position on its next two drives as well, the second of which ended with a Wayne Gallman one-yard plunge for a touchdown and a 14-0 score after a quarter.
The Tigers put together a great scoring chance late in the second quarter, but Watson was intercepted after a miscommunication with his receiver. Georgia Tech returned the ball two yards, but fumbled into the endzone and the play resulted in a safety for the Tigers. Following the free kick, Clemson took advantage by getting in Tech’s redzone again. Watson threw a laser for a touchdown to Jordan Leggett, his first score of the 2016 season.
The Tigers’ dominance was on display in the opening half. Clemson ran 56 total plays, compared to just 21 for Tech. The Yellow Jackets were stuffed for only 22 total yards, most of which came on the final play before halftime. Clemson owned a 325-yard advantage as well in the first 30 minutes of play.
The Jackets finally reached the scoring column in the fourth quarter, but Clemson answered with a career-long tying 47-yard field goal from Greg Huegel to close out the game’s scoring.
The Tigers return home for a showdown with Louisville, who is ranked No. 3 in the latest AP poll. The game was announced earlier this week as an 8 p.m. kickoff televised by ABC.
Clemson Team Notes
- Tonight marks the first time Clemson has left Grant Field with a perfect record since 1903. Previously, the Tigers lost their last 11 times when entering the game in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets with a perfect record.
- The Tigers snapped a five-game losing skid in the series in Bobby Dodd Stadium. Clemson’s last win in Atlanta prior to Thursday came in 2003, when co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott was a senior wide receiver for the Tigers.
- Clemson scored a safety for the second straight year against Georgia Tech. In the 2015 game at Memorial Stadium, Jadar Johnson blocked a punt in the Tigers’ 43-24 win.
- Clemson ran 56 plays in the opening half, compared to just 21 for Georgia Tech.
- The Tigers held the Yellow Jackets to just 124 yards of total offense Thursday, lowest figure by a Paul Johnson coached Georgia Tech team.
- Clemson is now 71-6 under head coach Dabo Swinney win outgaining the opponent in total offense.
- The Tigers are now 65-7 all time under Swinney when leading at halftime and 70-4 when leading heading into the fourth quarter.
Clemson Individual Notes
- Deshaun Watson passed for a season-high 304 yards Thursday, on 32 completions.
- Watson led the Tigers to a touchdown on their opening possession, making it nine straight over the course of Clemson’s three games. The streak ended on a missed field goal on Clemson’s second possession.
- Watson completed his 500th career pass in the second quarter to Mike Williams.
- Watson now has a 22-2 record as Clemson’s starting quarterback.
- Williams scored his first touchdown of the season on a perfect four-yard fade on Clemson’s opening possession. It was his first score sincethe opening possession of the 2015 season, when he suffered a neck injury that forced him to miss the season.
- Ray-Ray McCloud posted the first 100-yard receiving game of his career, matching his previous best with eight catches Thursday.
- Jordan Leggett entered the game with just one catch on the season, but had four in the first half of play, including his first touchdown on a nine-yard strike from Watson.
- Leggett tied John Mcmakin (1969-71), Dwayne Allen (2009-11) and Brandon Ford (2009-12) for the Clemson tight end record with his 12th career touchdown catch.
- Freshman wideout Cornell Powell caught a season-high five passes.
- Wayne Gallman scored his 20th career rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
- Adam Choice had his top rush of the season, a 16-yard scamper in the second quarter.
- Carlos Watkins’ first-quarter sack was the 500th tackle for loss recorded under defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who joined the Clemson coaching staff in 2012.
- Dorian O’Daniel recorded his first sack of the season, and first since the 2014 season. Both sacks have come against Georgia Tech in Atlanta.
- Van Smith intercepted his first pass of the season in the fourth quarter, returning it into Georgia Tech territory.
- Greg Huegel matched his career long with a 47-yard field goal.