We are just a day away from Clemson’s season opener against Georgia Tech, who will face off in a Labor Day night matchup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with expectations for this Clemson team to come out the gates in a decisive fashion.
After an underwhelming campaign for the Tigers last season, where the team managed to win six straight to end the season, finishing with a 10-3 record, this group needs to show up against Georgia Tech and start the team off on the right track. The question is, can they?
With one of the best defenses in the country, it shouldn’t be a problem though the defense can only keep points off the board and maybe put some on it any given game. The key is whether starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei and the offense can get things going.
A week one matchup against Georgia Tech is a solid test for this team to prove that they can produce up to expectations.
Here at Clemson Wire the staff broke down their predictions for the Tigers matchup with the Yellow Jackets. Here’s a look at what we’re thinking.
Alex: Clemson-38, Georgia Tech-7
Ken Ruinard / staff
I’m riding with Dabo and the Tigers in a big way this week. At an early glance, this Tigers defense headlined by Bryan Bresee, Trenton Simpson, and Myles Murphy looks like they could contend for the best Clemson defense of all time. I have absolutely no worries about this defense in week one. My concern, like seemingly everyone, is whether the offense will show up and take the next step. The offensive line needs to perform at a higher level this season, though most of the weight will be on starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei’s shoulders. Personally, I think he’s going to surprise a few people. I see the Tigers dominating on the ground with running backs Will Shipley and Kobe Pace, which will open up more room for Uiagalelei to air it out downfield, hopefully, at least.
Justin: Clemson-36, Georgia Tech-13
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports
Last year, these two teams played a competitive game that ended with a six-point victory for the Tigers. I don’t think it will be nearly that close on Monday. On paper, Clemson’s defense has the advantage over Georgia Tech’s offense at every position. Like last year, I don’t see the Yellow Jackets moving the ball much, even with the move from Brent Venables to Wes Goodwin at defensive coordinator. The X-factor in this game is Clemson’s offense. It’s a brand new season, which means a clean slate for what was one of the worst offenses, statistically, among Power Five schools last year. If Uiagalelei can deliver when asked, Clemson’s trio of capable running backs should be enough to lead the Tigers’ offense to at least 30 points.
Abby: Clemson- 38, Georgia Tech- 10
Ken Ruinard / staff
While there’s no doubt the Tiger’s defensive front, which is already drawing comparisons to the historic 2014 and 2018 fronts, will be dominant from the get-go, I expect all the attention to be on Clemson’s offense.
With there being so many questions surrounding the quarterback’s improvement (or lack thereof) after last season, all eyes will be on quarterback DJ Uiagalelei. The biggest key for Clemson’s success on the offensive side will be Uiagalelei’s ability to bring efficiency, speed and accuracy to the pocket, something the second-year starter struggled with last season.
If the Tigers can open up the run game early and take advantage of the immense depth at running back coupled with Uiagalelei delivering on his offseason improvement, Clemson will have no problem taking home a dominant season opener win on Monday night.