No. 15 Clemson expects tough game vs Georgia Tech

BY PETE IACOBELLI AP SPORTS WRITER CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – It would take several more stunning upsets for No. 15 Clemson and coach Dabo Swinney to look past struggling Georgia Tech. Swinney said the Tigers (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be focused and ready for the Yellow Jackets (2-3, 1-2) on Saturday, no matter how bad Georgia Tech looked in last week's 49-28 home loss to Middle Tennessee.
"We've had some knock down, drags out with these guys but we haven't won much as of late," Swinney said. "It's a huge game for us." Georgia Tech has been a thorn in Swinney's side from almost the moment he got the job midway through the 2008 season. The Yellow Jackets spoiled Swinney's head coaching debut four years ago at Death Valley. They beat Clemson twice the next season, including the ACC title game. And last season, Georgia Tech ended the Tigers' 8-0 start and national title hopes with a 31-17 victory in Atlanta. "Oh man," Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. "That was an awful loss." The game certainly seems like a mismatch with the Yellow Jackets having lost two straight. Middle Tennessee of the Sun Belt Conference ran for 264 yards and Georgia Tech ranks in the bottom half of the ACC in giving up nearly 400 yards a game on offense. "This is a team that I know they're coming off a tough loss to Middle Tennessee, but they've had two overtime losses at Virginia Tech and then against Miami," Swinney said. "I think everybody knows the kind of team that Georgia Tech is and the kind of coaching staff that they have. We're going to have to play a great game." Clemson has had several of those this year, at least on offense. The Tigers surpassed 500 yards of offense for the third time in five games last week, putting up 576 yards in a 45-28 victory over Boston College. It's the defense that has kept Swinney guessing this year. The Tigers allowed 420 yards to Boston College, although it tightened things up in the second half to take control. Clemson's defenders, though, have rarely looked good against Georgia Tech's triple-option schemes. Yellow Jackets quarterback Tevin Washington accounted for 176 yards and a touchdown in the victory, continually running past and through tacklers. Washington's on a tear again this season with 11 touchdowns, although it's largely been overlooked in Georgia Tech's slow start. "We've got to bounce back from a really disappointing game on Saturday," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "We get thrown right back into the fire against a quality opponent in Clemson." Swinney has stepped up the team's tackling at practices this week. The Tigers have had trouble with missed tackles, opening the way for too many big plays this season. Clemson was stung for 667 yards in a loss to No. 3 Florida State two weeks ago. This past Saturday, Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig threw touchdown passes of 42 and 31 yards and tailback Andre Williams had a 30-yard scoring run. Tigers defensive end Malliciah Goodman said Georgia Tech's offense is one of the most difficult to prepare for all year because Clemson doesn't see the option attack much. Clemson's run into problems when defenders try to do too much instead of playing their assignments. And Clemson can't worry about payback for the Yellow Jackets starting the team's late-season slide - the Tigers lost three of four to close the regular season - or things will break down again. "We just have to stay focused, don't think about getting anybody back," Goodman said. "Don't get too emotional with it. You know your job. Go do your job." The Tigers will have star receiver Sammy Watkins back for Satruday's game and eager to make an impact. Watkins missed the Boston College trip because an abdominal virus, the third game he's missed this season. Once again, receiver DeAndre Hopkins filled the void with a record-setting performance. Hopkins caught a school-record 13 passes in Clemson's opening victory over Auburn. He tied a Clemson record the next week with three touchdowns against Ball State. Last Saturday, Hopkins had 11 receptions for a school record 197 yards against Boston College. Clemson's quarterback Boyd said Watkins ready to play. "He looks healthy and full speed," he said. "Should be fun to get him out there." © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

High School Golf

Newnan golf lineups sweep region titles

A streak of region golf championships continued for Newnan’s program while another one may have taken root on Tuesday. Either way, bot ... Read More


High School Tennis

Northgate teams end successful year

The end of the high school tennis season may not have produced a celebration for Northgate girls and boys lineups. But it sure gave the prog ... Read More


High School Tennis

Lady Cougars advance to Sweet 16

Newnan’s girls tennis team picked up a key doubles victory from senior Emily Ferguson and partner Ansley Knight that allowed the Lady ... Read More


High School Baseball

Trinity drops tough 8-6 loss in region play

There have been years where at Trinity Christian baseball team could have looked at an 8-6 loss in region play as a moral victory. Not in 20 ... Read More


High School Soccer

EC, Northgate lineups drop non-region contests

It’s been a busy week already for East Coweta soccer teams. After falling to Parkview on Monday night, both the boys and the girls tea ... Read More

Vikings host Indians tonight

This year’s Coweta Cup in high school lacrosse begins tonight following a weather-delayed opener. East Coweta’s boys travel to N ... Read More