On a hot and humid evening in Athens, the Clemson Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs battled for supremacy and recruiting bragging rights in the cradle of the South. Many figured there would be issues with Georgia's front seven, but it was Clemson's returning front seven that allowed 329 yards rushing by UGA's cornucopia of blue-chip running backs.
Clemson's offense was decent, especially opening the season on the road after losing stars Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd. They put up 291 total yards and 21 points while shuffling between two quarterbacks, but most of that came in the first half. Leonard Floyd and company clamped down and severely limited yardage in the second half after adjustments were made. Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knew Clemson was going to pass the ball as the UGA lead grew in the second half, so he adjusted his wrecking crew, and the snowball effect was evident.
Todd Gurley was the story for UGA as he, his offensive line, and cadre of back-ups dominated the Clemson front seven as the Tigers' defense tired. Gurley finished the game with 15 rushes for nearly 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. He probably thought he was playing high school ball again. Clemson's front seven was supposed to be the team's strength, but tonight's display showed no signs of their preseason hype. UGA's new quarterback Hutson Mason was not required to do much due to the efficacy of the running game. He only ended up passing for 131 yards on a mere 26 attempts.
What to take from this game? Clemson's front seven isn't that bad, because UGA's team is actually that good. The UGA offense should have their way in the SEC East against any defense not named Florida, and will give the contender out of the SEC West a run for their money in the title game. Likewise, Clemson's defense will regroup and cause problems against most ACC teams. Balance will be restored and a solid season can more than be salvaged as as the team improves.