Dabo Swinney and the Tigers had another strong win, taking down Georgia Tech 41-21 in dominant fashion in front of their home crowd.
Early in the game, Swinney and his staff made one of the most questionable calls I and many of us have likely seen all season. The Tigers called a fake punt on their own 21-yard line in the first quarter on fourth and 9… Yes, on their own 21-yard line.
Clemson punter Aidan Swanson could not pick up the first down, running for 4 yards. The Yellow Jackets got the ball on the Tigers’ 25 and got a rather easy score to put them up 7-0. After the game, Swinney explained why they made that decision.
“The fake punt, we said we were going to call it going into the game, and we just didn’t quite execute it just right, but that’s OK,” Swinney said. “I told them hey, it may not work, get ready to play defense, but don’t worry about it, we’ll be alright no matter what. We’re going to be aggressive, and we just didn’t quite execute it the way we needed to.”
Clemson went for it on fourth down multiple times in this matchup and was often successful. This decision, however, made no sense.
“It was kind of weird in that we had some fourth-and-shorts, but a couple of them were just field position; where you are, you don’t have a lot to gain. But I felt confident about our defense, and then I felt confident in our plan,” Swinney said of the aggressiveness on fourth downs.
“I just thought we were efficient. Cade (Klubnik) was in a good rhythm, and our protection was good. … But we felt like we could win the trenches, we felt like we could run the ball, and we had to get some dirty yards today, and we did it. So, that was definitely a difference in the game for us.”
Luckily for the Tigers, it didn’t cost them, as they were able to take over the game in the 2nd quarter.