Georgia Tech's defense has swagger, but also gives up big plays

by - Senior Writer -
Travis Etienne will take aim at the Georgia Tech defense Saturday (ACC photo).
Travis Etienne will take aim at the Georgia Tech defense Saturday (ACC photo).

Georgia Tech’s defense has made big plays and given up big plays, and they are playing with a little bit of swagger.

Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott met with the media this week to discuss the Tigers’ trip to Atlanta this weekend (noon, ABC), and he said that the Yellow Jackets have shown glimpses of promise, despite giving up a whopping 64 plays of 10 yards or more and 24 that covered 20 or more yards.

"They're a lot more confident. They're playing hard and with some swagger,” Elliott said. “They're showing some ability to be flexible. Against UCF, they changed up their scheme a little bit and went from four-down to three-down and played prominently three-down in their game. Great length on the back end. I think six of the back-seven are veterans. The defensive line tries to get after you.

"You really like what you're seeing in terms of ‘game respects game.’ And what I mean by that, is those kids are playing hard. They're playing really, really hard for their coaches down there. It's going to be a good challenge for us. I think it's an opportunity for our guys to understand how to become consistent. If we want to get where we want to go at the end of the season, then we have to be consistent week-in and week-out."

Elliott said Georgia Tech’s relatively new coaching staff is showing promise on the recruiting trail.

“They're not backing down in any recruiting battle. In the past, Georgia Tech may have had like a niche kind of guy they were going after,” Elliott said. “But now they're throwing their hat in the ring for some big boys. And you look at some of the guys they signed last year, and they're doing a great job."

Elliott wants to see more out of his offensive line this week.

"Still think we continue to be led by the offensive line, they were physical at the point of attack,” he said. “Feel like we can do a better job of perimeter blocking -- we did well vs. Virginia but not so much this week. Some guys, here or there, tried to to do too much. Some costly penalties."

One of those is left tackle Jackson Carman, who was briefly pulled from the win over Miami after a penalty.

"His effort is great. But he's a guy that because he's so talented, sometimes he can get away from his technique,” Elliott said. “He's such a physical guy. He wants to mash people, he wants to be physical. Sometimes he can get himself in some awkward body positions by being a little bit too aggressive. So overall, he's playing winning football for us but it's great for us to be able to challenge him to say let's take it every single play. Let's stay locked in and not try to do too much."

He then said that more than one player tried to do too much against the Hurricanes.

"I think when you get into a matchup like that, a top-10 matchup, a team with such history and tradition as Miami, there's going to be a lot of emotion,” Elliott said. “And you've got to control those emotions. And sometimes you'll get caught up in trying to use your talent or trying to be too physical to the point where it costs you fundamentals. So it was at all positions. A play here or here at offensive line. Even at tight end, running back, and wide out, guys trying to do too much as opposed to guys having that focused intensity and controlled passion. So going out and playing hard without sacrificing technique."

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