Clemson vs.

ATLANTA – Overcoming a sloppy, sluggish start all too familiar, fourth seed Clemson topped Georgia Tech 41-10 Monday night as the Tigers look to return to the top of the ACC after falling short of expectations in 2021. DJ Uiagalelei, who has been the subject of off-season scrutiny, was the subject of scrutiny. After a lackluster campaign in the second year, he had 19 of 32 passes for 209 yards and touchdowns. The rookie also added a massive 9-yard trajectory with 1:43 to play in the third quarter to push the lead to 24-10, putting the game out of reach for the yellow jackets.

A goalless game after a quarter with both sets of offenses struggling out of the gate, the first spark of the night came from Clemson’s Carson Donnelly, who stopped a Georgia Tech kick and returned it to the 5-yard line. That set up a four-play touchdown drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown by Will Shipley to finally put the Tigers on the scoreboard.

Uiagalelei got things moving on the next drive when he led the Tigers in an eight-game run and threw his only pass of the night – a 6-yard pass to Beaux Collins at the back of the end zone to make it 14-0.

However, Georgia Tech had its chances. Quarterback Jeff Sims found EJ Jenkins for a 13-yard drop halfway through the third quarter to cut the score to 14-10. However, the Tigers’ stifling defensive front prevented the Yellow Vests from continuing to drive for the majority of the night. Sims finished 23 of 36 passing for 164 yards, one touchdown, one interception and 41 yards dash.

Here are the top takeaways from Monday night’s game.

Clemson has a QB . fight

OK, so it won’t be “official” until the end of September after Foreman and Louisiana Tech come to town, but anyone can watch. Despite decent stats on paper, Uiagalelei is still worn out in an offense that used to be a force under former quarterbacks such as Trevor Lawrence, Deshaun Watson and Tajh Boyd.

Uiagalelei, who was feeling disoriented early in the first quarter, was essentially relegated to the “one read and bail” quarterback for the majority of the night. Although he had a bit of pressure in the face, forcing him off his mark, he didn’t look much different than he did last year when he completed 55.6% of his passes and threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9).

Clemson fans longed for freshman Cady Klopnik, and they fulfilled their wish for the ultimate leadership of their team. Klopnik, the potential five-star player and No. 6 player overall in the most recent recruiting category, was a 4 of 6 pass for 50 yards and a touchdown—a nice 3-yard touchdown pass to Will Taylor for a 10-play, 66-yard drive.

Yes, the game was in the books at that point. However, when you combine Uiagalelei’s first three quarters and his lack of production last season, you should at least consider a full-time switch – or at least an extended experience.

Clemson’s defensive front is the real deal

The Tigers were widely seen as having one of the most talented defenses in the country, specifically up front with Brian Prey, Tyler Davis, Miles Murphy and KJ Henry along the streak. They lived up to that hype on Monday.

These four lived in the Yellow Jackets’ backcourt, forcing seven tackles to lose and only allowing 4.5 yards per game. At night, the Tigers’ defense gave up only two conversations to finish third in 16 attempts.

Henry was the star of the show with six tackles, 2.5 of which were for a loss, one sack and a forced trip. He was the biggest force from the start when he hit Sims in the first play of the game, blocking Andrew Mokuba.

Tonight was Henry’s night, and the opposing attack coordinators will have to focus more attention on him moving forward. This will only open up more space for the rest of your teammates to take damage.

But the offensive line needs work

Clemson’s defensive line was a force, but the same couldn’t be said for the other side of the line of melee. Tigers only delivered one sack, but stats don’t always tell the whole story. Uiagalelei was running for his life, and the yellow jackets, who often only brought four with them, were disrupting the running game behind the line all night.

The offensive line has been an upcoming concern of the season, and coach Dabo Sweeney must feel worse about his exit from tonight’s game. The Tigers face a tough convention competition with Florida and Miami – defenses that looked strong in the first week – and a trip to Notre Dame is still on the agenda. Those can be hard games for Clemson in the trenches.

If this issue is not fixed, it is difficult to envision this team as a real threat to do the college football game.

Jeff Collins must prove he’s worth staying

Collins is now 9-26 as the head coach of the Yellow Jackets, and tonight’s game against Clemson was a great example of why he disappointed. Simply put, some of the decisions were downright terrible.

In one of his more outrageous choices, Collins chose to take the 10-second replay to set the 33-second clock at halftime when Clemson had already lined up to bet despite having all three time-outs in his back pocket. Then, he burned all three of his second-half timers just before the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

What’s more, Collins took the ball out of Sims’ hands in fourth and second while dropping 14 points on Georgia Tech’s 42-yard streak early in the fourth quarter, even though Sims was the captain at the time. Clearly Clemson was the better team on Monday, but even some better situational call-ups may have made things more interesting. These kinds of decisions may be more expensive in tighter games this year.