NO.2 CLEMSON LOSES RETRO-STYLE DEFENSIVE SLUG FEST 10-3 TO NO.5 UGA OWING TO PICK-SIX
- 2021-09-06 10:43:44
CHARLOTTE, NC - Well, I haven't been this off on one of my score predictions in a while. I knew both defenses were great, but I had the Tigers winning 31-17. I wasn't expecting a throwback to the early '80's between these two rivals with no offensive touchdowns scored! I thought Georgia would have trouble passing the ball, which they did, finishing with just 135 yards through the air, but I expected DJ to have much more success with all the weapons at wide receiver and tight end they have. He just had no time to throw the ball deep and wasn't at his best when he did have time. Starting center Mason Trotter was out, so Matt Bockhorst moved from guard to center, and the Tigers started sophomore Paul Tchio and freshman Marcus Tate on the offensive line for the first time in their careers. Jordan McFadden also moved from left tackle to guard. All of that compounded the fact that Georgia has a fierce defensive front and resulted in 7 sacks, the most allowed by the Tigers in a long time. At least 2 or 3 of the sacks were on DJ holding the ball too long. He needs to work on his internal clock. The Tigers also abandoned the run game early, and that allowed the Bulldogs to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback. Clemson running backs only combined for 7 rushes in the game, and the Tigers ran just 60 plays, the fewest I can remember in years.
Fret not, though, Clemson fans. It's just one game, and it was the opener against a national championship caliber team. The good news is that the Tigers held Georgia's offense to just 3 points even without Tyler Davis! If not for the pick-six, the game would have gone to overtime. The Tigers will be just fine on offense, so don't go jumping off any bridges until you see how they perform against ACC competition. I believe they will light up the scoreboard, just like they have over the last several years, and they will be much better if they get a playoff rematch with Georgia.
I'll have more in a bit! In the meantime, post-game interviews and notes are below.
- Clemson played a third straight contest against an AP Top 5 opponent for the first time in school history. Prior to the current stretch, Clemson played back-to-back games against Top 5 teams four times, including the 2015 College Football Playoff (No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 2 Alabama), 2016 College Football Playoff (No. 2 Ohio State and No. 1 Alabama), 2018 College Football Playoff (No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 1 Alabama) and the 2019 College Football Playoff (No. 2 Ohio State and No. 1 LSU).
- The game was only the fourth season-opening game of two AP Top 5 teams since 2000, according to The Athletic's Matt Brown. The others include No. 1 Alabama's 24-7 win against No. 3 Florida State in 2017, No. 4 LSU's 40-27 win against No. 3 Oregon in 2011 and No. 5 Miami's 16-10 win against No. 4 Florida State in 2004. Prior to 2004, the two most recent such games were in 1999 (No. 3 Penn State 41, No. 4 Arizona 7) and 1986 (No. 1 Oklahoma 38, No. 4 UCLA 3).
- Clemson and Georgia met with both teams ranked in the AP Top 25 for the fifth time in series history.
- Clemson and Georgia faced off with both teams in the AP Top 10 for only the second time in series history, joining No. 8 Clemson's 38-35 defeat of No. 5 Georgia in 2013.
- Clemson lost the game despite winning the turnover margin, 2-1. It marks only the sixth time in 174 games under Swinney that Clemson has lost a game when winning the turnover margin.
- Clemson allowed only 256 total yards. Prior to Saturday, Clemson was 67-2 when holding opponents to 275 or fewer yards under Dabo Swinney.
- Clemson entered the game having won 89 consecutive games when holding opponents under 23 points, a streak that dated to the 2010 season.
- Clemson surrendered only 10 points, marking the eighth time in history that Clemson has held an AP Top 5 opponent to 10 or fewer points. Clemson is now 6-2 against Top 5 teams when holding them to 10 or fewer points, with the only other loss coming in the Sugar Bowl against LSU to end the 1958 season.
- Wide receiver Justyn Ross made Clemson’s first catch of the season in his first game action in exactly 600 days, dating to the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 13, 2020 against LSU.
- Ross finished the game with four catches for 26 yards in his return to action.
- Wide receiver Joseph Ngata recorded his first career 100-yard receiving game, finishing the game with six catches for 110 yards.
- Ngata’s previous career high in receiving yards was 62 against Charlotte in 2019.
- Ngata’s six receptions doubled his career high, surpassing his previous mark of three, recorded three different times in his career.
- Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei completed 19-of-37 passes for 178 yards.
- Uiagalelei’s first career interception came on his 12th pass of the evening, the 129th pass attempt of his career. His interception-free streak of 128 passes concluded 37 attempts shy of the Clemson record for most pass attempts without an interception to start a career, held by Cullen Harper (first 165 passes of his career that spanned 2005-07).
- Clemson recorded the game’s first takeaway when a Clemson punt hit a Georgia player and was recovered by long snapper Jack Maddox.
- Linebacker Baylon Spector recorded his first career interception in the third quarter, picking off a third-down throw by quarterback J.T. Daniels.
- Defensive end Myles Murphy pushed his career sack total to 5.0 with his first sack of the season.
- Punter Will Spiers started his 57th game to tie the school record held by tackle Mitch Hyatt (57 from 2015-18).
- Spiers, linebacker James Skalski and wide receiver/holder Will Swinney each played in their 57th career games to tie Chad Diehl (2007-11) for eighth in school history.
- Kicker B.T. Potter converted a 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Potter has made 12 of his last 13 field goal attempts, dating to last season.
- True freshman guard Marcus Tate and true freshman safety Andrew Mukuba both started, marking only the second time since 1973 that Clemson has had two true freshmen start a season opener (tight end Jeff Wells and center James Farr in 1980).
- Clemson played its third neutral-site season opener in school history (including games in Atlanta against Alabama in 2008 and against Auburn in 2012) and its fourth off-site opener, including one against Alabama in Birmingham in 1904.
- Clemson opened a season against another Power Five Conference opponent outside of the ACC for the first time since 2016, when Clemson earned a 19-13 win at Auburn to kick off a national championship season.
- Clemson concluded a streak of 127 consecutive games without losing back-to-back contests, the longest such streak in ACC history. It had been the longest streak in the nation prior to Saturday evening.
- Captains for the contest were tight end Davis Allen, wide receiver Justyn Ross, linebacker James Skalski and linebacker Baylon Spector.
Never miss the latest news from CUTigers!
Join our free email list