5 Keys To Beating the Bees

Most people think the Clemson-Georgia match up two weeks ago was the biggest game of the young season. But, with no disrespect to those who despise the Bulldogs, Saturday will be the most important game of the year for the Tigers as they try and move to 1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Not considering the Seminoles, Georgia Tech, behind only N.C. State, is the most widely considered threat to finish ahead of Clemson in the ACC standings. Finishing second in the ACC brings a great deal of difference in terms of bowl priority, as well as significant bragging rights and recruiting one-upmanship.

The winner of Saturday's game will have a leg up on the chase to the top of the conference. Here is a look at what it will take for the Tigers to get a much needed win Saturday.

Make The Clutch Play
6 straight Clemson-Georgia Tech games have been decided by exactly three points. As amazing as that statistic is, the game Saturday seems about as evenly matched as any of the ones in the previous 6 years.

Don't fool yourself, each year this series comes down to making the clutch play. Last year it was Woody Dantzler to J.J. McKelvey, two years ago it was George Godsey to Kerry Watkins, three years ago it was just Joe Hamilton. The point being that whichever team has the most players that step up in the critical parts of the game typically wins.

The Tigers lacked that big playmaker in the opener against Georgia, and Georgia Tech has played two cupcakes to open their season. Consequently, determining who that playmaker is going to be is purely a guess.

Saturday, Clemson needs a hero if they are going to win. Applications can be sent to CUTigers.com!

Control The Offensive Line Of Scrimmage
The loss of Derrick Brantley hangs a huge cloud over the Clemson offensive line. The line has been solid, but unspectacular in the first two games, and losing Brantley does not bode well long term for this offense.

Jermyn Chester stepped in last week and actually graded the highest of any offensive lineman for the game. His play this Saturday will again be a focal point. If Chester can give a repeat performance of the Louisiana Tech game against the Yellow Jackets, it will help ease some concern.

But Chester's play alone won't solve all of the Tiger potential problems on offensive line. Better run blocking is needed to spring Yusef Kelly for more big gains. And while pass protection was better last week than in Athens, Georgia Tech brings a much better defense to Death Valley than Louisiana Tech did last Saturday.

Frustrate And Confuse Suggs
After two weeks of watching film of the Clemson-Georgia game, the Bulldog coaches have commented publicly that the poor play of David Greene had more to do with the amount of pressure and knock downs he got than his lack of ability. The Tigers need a similar performance Saturday.

At Tennessee, A.J. Suggs completed 58% of his passes in 4 career starts. Georgia Tech has a bounty of good receivers led by Kerry Watkins, and if Suggs gets into a groove, he and his receivers will be able to hurt the Tigers all afternoon long.

The good news here is that the Tiger defense has shown the ability to take both starting quarterbacks it has faced this year out of their rhythm. Suggs, who will be playing in front of a hostile crowd for the 1st time in a Yellow Jacket uniform, must get the message early and often. If he does, expect Suggs to make the same mistakes David Greene and Luke McCown did.

Seal The Deal
After having success in the red zone against Georgia, the Clemson offense took a huge step backwards last week versus La Tech. Clemson was forced into 4 field goal attempts and 1 fake field goal attempt to end drives. 5 times in the red zone should produce at least 3 touchdowns and two field goals…not 4 field goals and a turnover.

While the game Saturday will not be a shootout like past year's contest, scoring touchdowns when penetrating the red zone will be critical for the Tiger offense. Moving the ball at will against the Rambling Wreck will not be easy, so the opportunities must be taken advantage of every time if the Tigers want to be a winner Saturday afternoon.

Note to Aaron Hunt: Even if the Tigers have to settle for a field goal attempt, it is imperative that you make them like you did last week! Don't let your misses be a Peach State thing!

12th Man Take Over!
Georgia Tech as played in front of 45,000 friendly fans in Atlanta versus Vanderbilt and 16,000 basketball fans in Connecticut. Death Valley on Saturday should be a nice change of pace.

For the first time in several years, Clemson flags have been seen flying on cars during the week…so Tiger fans are ready to roar. In addition, it is fun (and not fruitless) to stand up and get loud while the defense is on the field. That is something that has not been around for the past 4 or 5 years…and it feels great.

The sellout crowd in Clemson Saturday should play a big role if the excitement is what I think it will be. If the Tiger offense can give Clemson a lead, the noise level while our new defense is on the field should be deafening for the Yellow Jackets. Anything to keep Suggs from feeling comfortable on the field will be a huge advantage for the Tigers.

This crowd and this game has the making of a throwback to the late 80's when Death Valley was a true home field advantage.

Why any prognosticator would pick anything but a 3-point difference in this game is beyond me considering the last 6 years of this series. Trends are made to be broken, but this trend and this game has all the makings of a nail-biter.

The difference this year is that the defenses rule the roost, and we won't see a 45-42 shootout.

Rhymer's Prediction
Clemson-20, Georgia Tech-17

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