Clemson will welcome Georgia Tech and first year head coach Geoff Collins into the friendly confines of Memorial Stadium Thursday night to kick off the 2019 season. The Tigers have owned Tech of late, winning four straight in the series and seven of the last nine.
The defending national champs come into the opener favored by as much as 36.5 points. By all accounts, it’s the largest spread the Yellow Jackets have seen in program history, and more than doubles the 17 point spread we saw in the 2018 matchup between the two teams.
On the surface the 36.5 points looks like a big number for a conference matchup, but in this case the big number is justified. Death Valley is one of the most difficult places to win in all of college football and Clemson is 34-1 at home over the last five seasons. Add in a first year head coach who is attempting to transition to a spread offense with a roster full of players recruited to play the option, and all signs point to a one sided affair.
The Yellow Jackets coaching staff have done everything they can to give themselves a fighting chance. They aren’t releasing the traditional depth chart. Instead they put out a list of players that are “above the line.” It consists of 66 players who are ready to play and could see action. They’re also not naming a starting quarterback, but by all accounts Lucas Johnson is best suited to run the new offense. Last season’s starter, Tobias Oliver should also see some playing time in certain situations, as could James Graham.
Clemson returns most everyone off of an offense that just won it all. An offense led by the best QB in the country. Despite having some turnover on the defense, the Tigers still hold a sizable advantage from a talent standpoint at every position on the field.
If this Clemson team is as good as advertised, this game should serve as an opportunity to get everyone in gear and ready to roll for the week two matchup with Texas A&M. The Tigers coaching staff should have no issues getting all the reserves plenty of snaps. The only real question is whether or not Clemson covers the big number.