Following each game, each phase of the Clemson team will be given a letter grade. Here are this week…
Tigers Sting Jackets
By the time the mauling was over, Clemson had put together a 31-7 thrashing against the Yellow Jackets Saturday night in an overflowing Memorial Stadium.
"From what I've heard and watched on old film," Dustin Fry said, "this was old-style Clemson football."
The Tigers (7-1, 4-1 ACC) ran an incredible 321 yards on only 38 carries, which comes to a ridiculous average of 8.4 yards per attempt.
Sophomore tailback James Davis had 21 of those attempts for a career-high 216 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman C.J. Spiller added 16 rushes for 116 yards and a touchdown.
The 216 yards by Davis is the most by a Tigers tailback since Raymond Priester set the school record of 263 yards against Duke in 1995.
It was also the first time in school history that Clemson had a 200-yard rusher and a 100-yard rusher in the same game.
"I've been looking forward to this for a year," Davis said. "It really means a lot to me to come out and play a great game against the team from my hometown."
And this wasn't against Louisiana Tech, Temple, North Carolina or Florida Atlantic. This was against the seventh-best rush defense and the fourth-best total defense in the nation.
"We weren't supposed to be able to run against them," said Tigers center Dustin Fry. "That's all we heard all week. But we knew what the deal is. It's not like rushing for 300 against Temple. This is Georgia Tech."
Even with starting left offensive guard Roman Fry going down on the third play from scrimmage, the Clemson offensive line absolutely manhandled the front seven of the Yellow Jackets.
On nearly every snap, there was a massive surge by the offensive line, which ultimately allowed the tailbacks to chew up big chunks of yardage.
"It's a pretty good feeling to have running backs like James Davis and C.J. Spiller," said left offensive tackle Barry Richardson. "They can make the offensive line look good. When you have two backs making plays like they did tonight, it makes us tough to beat."
Not to be overlooked, the job done by the Clemson defense on Yellow Jackets quarterback Reggie Ball and Johnson was nothing short of spectacular.
Johnson was held without a catch and Ball completed less than 50 percent of his passes. In two games against Georgia Tech (5-2, 3-1 ACC), Tigers defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has held Johnson to only four receptions.
"This was a game we started working hard to win on Sunday of last week," said Tigers defensive end Gaines Adams. "Coach Koenning did a great job in having a great plan against Georgia Tech. The key was the defensive line. We got pressure on them early and kept it coming the entire game. This was a special win."
The coaches for the Yellow Jackets never had an answer on how to slow down the heavy pursuit of the front seven of Clemson. For that matter, they never had an answer on how to slow down the four defensive linemen.
"Clemson did a great job of keeping us off balance," Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey said. "We will definitely have to study the film and make sure that this doesn't happen again."
Oddly enough, even though the Tigers shut down Georgia Tech's offense and had plenty success rushing the ball, they only led 7-0 at halftime.
But things quickly opened up for Clemson in the third quarter when it scored 10 points, seven of which came on a 50-yard run by Spiller.
The Tigers added 14 more in the fourth quarter, and once again it was Spiller scoring from 50 yards out, except this came on a swing pass.
"The defense gives us an opportunity to play like this," Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "When we're not behind, it gives us a chance to wear a team down. I was real impressed. Everything the defense does allows us to play this way."
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