Georgia Tech’s defense saw a slight improvement in week three from their week two performance against USF, but the Jackets evolving defense will have a new set of challenges on Saturday against Clemson including the Tigers two-quarterback system.
Very few programs in the country an win with a two-quarterback system and while we’re only three games into the season. The Clemson Tigers are one program that has been able to use such a system and use it successfully. In doing so they’ve given defensive coordinator Nate Woody a ton to think about.
On Saturday, senior quarterback Kelly Bryant will get the start. A capable quarterback, Bryant won’t put up eye popping numbers for the Tigers but does enough to get the job done. Last season, he passed for 2,800-yards and 13 touchdowns while completing just over 65% of his passes. He did however throw eight interceptions along the way.
But when Bryant isn’t in at quarterback, Tech fans for the first time over the next four years will see freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence take snaps behind center. The former top overall recruit in the 2018 recruiting class, Lawrence has played in each of the Tigers first three games this year and so far has looked the part of a future star quarterback.
The Cartersville High School standout has completed 60% of his passes so far this year for five touchdowns and one interception. Last weekend against Georgia Southern, Lawrence threw for 194-yards on 12 of 19 passing attempts while throwing a touchdown. He also threw his first pick of the season.
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That being said, both quarterbacks will challenge a Jackets secondary that through three games has had it’s up-and-downs. While the Jackets currently have the 30th best passing defense in the country (in terms of yards allowed), they are also allowing 67.6% of all attempted passes to be completed so far this season.
The Jackets will have to tighten up on defense against the Tigers if they hope to have a chance to pull off an upset victory especially with Clemson’s dangerous wide receiving core. Combined, the two quarterbacks are 55-for-86 this season, a completion percentage of 63%. The Tigers are not a dink and dunk offense either as they average 9.6 yards per attempt his season. The Jackets will need to close any potential windows as the Tigers will take advantage of any seam they find in the passing game.
The one bright spot surrounding the Clemson signal callers are neither are true dual threat quarterbacks. Both quarterbacks don’t have elite speed or agility to break off long runs though both can roll out of the pocket and hit a receiver down field. They’ll take yards when they can get them, like Blake Barnett did in the 49-38 loss to USF but neither should terrorize the Jackets on the ground. The Jackets will more likely see Bryant take off rather than Lawrence but they’ll have to be careful either way.
The difficult part with dealing with the two quarterback system is, once you think you have figured out on quarterback and his tendencies, the other quarterback can be subbed in allowing for the other to have a “reset” in a way. For the Clemson offense, changing quarterbacks won’t hurt them all that much, if any, but for opposing defenses, it surely can throw off a rhythm and change the complexion of the game.
One noteworthy tidbit to pass along is that Saturday’s game is a homecoming game in a way for Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence grew up just 45 minutes away from Bobby Dodd Stadium and will surely will have friends and family at the game to cheer him on. If Lawrence becomes the hot hand on Saturday, don’t be surprised if the former five-star recruit tries to light up the Jackets secondary in front of his “hometown” crowd.