LOCATION: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA (55,000)
RADIO: 104.9 WCCP FM
SPREAD: Georgia Tech by 3
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 48-32 in his seventh season with the Tigers. He is 3-3 against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is 25-19 in his fourth season with the Yellow Jackets. Coach Gailey is 1-2 against Clemson.
SERIES: Georgia Tech has a 44-23-2 lead in the series with Clemson dating to a 23-0 Tiger win in Augusta, GA in 1898, just the 11th game in Clemson football history. The series was incredibly close in the 1990s and that trend has continued in the 21st century. Eight of the last nine games have been decided by five points or less. That includes a streak of six straight games decided by exactly three points from 1996-2001. That might be a first in college football history. We aren't talking by three points or less, but exactly three points.
GEORGIA TECH KEY PLAYER: WR Calvin Johnson. Johnson single handily kept the Yellow Jackets in the game last year against Clemson, catching eight passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns, including the game winning score with just 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter. His height and ability to adjust his body in mid-air creates match up problems for every defensive back he'll face this year.
INJURIES: Clemson- RB James Davis (wrist) doubtful; WR Kelvin Grant (ACL) out. Georgia Tech- RB Reuben Houston (personal) out, DL Darryl Richard (knee) out, DB Djay Jones (leg) doubtful, DT Joe Anoai (ankle) doubtful.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't mention it much to the players. The players may be talking about it some because we have a lot of guys from Georgia and we lost that game. Right now, with the way this team has responded with the situations we've been in ... we won't use that much as a motivating factor. It won't be addressed much from a coaching perspective." -- Tommy Bowden on talking with his team about last year's loss to Georgia Tech.
FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60's under mostly sunny skies for Saturday's 3:30 kickoff. Winds will be out of the northeast at 5 mph.
* Gailey: Tigers are Unpredictable
* Game Notes
* Wednesday Clemson Football Notebook
* Downer Not Overthinking the Situation
* Closer Look: Georgia Tech
* Don't Believe the Hype
* Koenning: No Answers for Johnson?
* Clemson - Ga Tech Moved to 3:30 PM
* Tuesday Player Audio
* What We are Hearing...
* Bowden's Tuesday Press Conference
* Monday Clemson Football Notebook
* Monday Tommy Bowden Comments
* Ga Tech Parking & Traffic Information
* Depth Chart
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - Georgia Tech has quietly put together a strong defensive unit this season. Overall, the Jackets rank 11th in the country in rush defense, and 18th in total defense. Georgia Tech also uses a three-deep, three-under zone, which means they'll rush five players at the quarterback while keeping their secondary in zone coverage. The idea is to force the quarterback into mistakes, and even if he does beat you, it won't be deep because of the zone coverage. Simply put, the Tigers must provide protection for Charlie Whitehurst. If Whitehurst has time to throw, Clemson will move the ball at will. If he doesn't, it could be a long afternoon in Atlanta. "There are holes under there to hit receivers," said Bowden. "But you have to the protection to get the ball off. And then, with their style of play, they have the potential to bring six or seven or even an eight man front to help them against the run."
When Georgia Tech has the Ball- The big key for Clemson will be to stop big WR Calvin Johnson, but don't forget about RB P.J. Daniels. Daniels has 112 rushes for 494 yards and two touchdowns on the season. The Tigers must also pressure QB Reggie Ball, who has been erratic at times, without letting him break contain. Johnson is one of the premier receivers in the country and remains Tech's biggest threat with 32 catches, including four touchdowns this year. At 6-4, he towers over most defensive backs and has the athleticism that rivals a small forward on the basketball court. "The receiver (Johnson) is good as any in the country, especially in the red zone with the jump balls. We saw that last year," said Bowden. The Tigers must also work on missed tackles, which was somewhat of a problem last weekend against Temple.
Special Teams - Clemson's Jad Dean leads the nation in field goals per game but Cole Chason continues to struggle in the punting department. As a result, walk-on punter Jimmy Manners may see his first action of the season Saturday. Freshmen Tyler Grisham and Aaron Kelly will get their second start as the Tigers' starting kickoff returners after limited action against Temple. Georgia Tech's Ben Arndt averages a very respectable 42.4 yards per punt (27th in the nation), but kicker Travis Bell has struggled, making just 5-of-10 field goal attempts, including missing each of his last five tries.
Intangibles - Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey received a nice bonus in preparing for Clemson when he found out his game at Miami last weekend was cancelled due to the effects of Hurricane Wilma. As a result, the Jackets have had four extra practices to prepare for the Tigers. Surely, Clemson will have to adjust on the fly, as Georgia Tech will show several offensive and defensive schemes that the Tigers have yet to see on film. Don't be surprised to see the option with Reggie Ball and P.J. Daniels.
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-Game show will be broadcasting live Saturday morning from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, with the last two hours coming to you live Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or on the world wide web on wccpfm.com.
QB Reggie Ball
RB P.J. Daniels
WR Calvin Johnson