Jackets, Tigers are on the right track

ATLANTA --- While Clemson's offense and Georgia Tech's defense finally seem to be hitting their strides, both could see their troubles return.


Their matchup Saturday is a showdown between the nation's 55th-ranked total defense (Georgia Tech) against the No. 80 total offense (Clemson).

Clemson's problems are in the passing game. Coach Dabo Swinney puts as much blame on dropped balls as he does on quarterback Kyle Parker's low passing average (162 yards per game to rank eighth in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Tigers (3-3, 1-2 ACC) had five drops two weeks ago in a loss at North Carolina and six in a victory last week against Maryland. Running backs and tight ends were responsible for all the miscues last week.

"I definitely think it's going to turn around, and it's going to get better, but we're not where we need to be as a passing team," Swinney said Wednesday. "We haven't really thrown the ball a lot, but (defenses) start loading up on you and overcommitting. We have good players. We just have to get it to the right guys."

Georgia Tech's defense has suffered from a lack of turnovers. The Yellow Jackets (5-2, 3-1) managed six takeaways in last week's win over FCS opponent Middle Tennessee, but they had only seven through the first six games.

Coach Paul Johnson attributes some of the earlier problems to players who are still adjusting to their roles in the 3-4 scheme installed by first-year defensive coordinator Al Groh. It's been difficult for the Jackets to bring consistent pressure up front, which obviously has resulted in a low number of interceptions. Before playing Middle Tennessee, Georgia Tech ranked 85th nationally and was tied for 10th in the ACC in takeaways.

But the Jackets have won three in a row while allowing an average of 18.3 points.

Against Middle Tennessee, safety Jerrard Tarrant and cornerback Dominique Reese combined for two interceptions, one sack and one forced fumble.

"We got some turnovers in the last game, and that is an area that we talked about," Johnson said.

Saturday's games

- Georgia Southern at The Citadel, 1 p.m. (No TV)

- Georgia Tech at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. (ABC-Ch. 6)

- South Carolina at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (Fox Sports South)

- Georgia at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m. (CSS)



Wed, 11/22/2017 - 00:22


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