Clemson vs. Georgia: Game Grades, Analysis for Tigers and Bulldogs

Andrew Hall@DudeYouCrazyCorrespondent IIIAugust 31, 2014

Georgia's Todd Gurley
Georgia's Todd GurleyDavid Goldman/Associated Press

A powerful running game and defensive adjustments made the difference on Saturday as the Georgia Bulldogs ran away from the Clemson Tigers for a 45-21 victory.

Check out the game's final stats here and take a look at first- and second-half game grades as well as analysis below.

Clemson Tigers Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeSecond-Half Grade
Pass OffenseBD
Run OffenseBD
Pass DefenseBB
Run DefenseCF
Special TeamsFC
vs. Georgia in Week 1

Clemson Tigers Grade Analysis

Pass Offense:  The Tigers came out firing and moved the football to a very competent degree in the first half.  Both Cole Stoudt and Deshaun Watson had success in finding open receivers down the field.  Unfortunately for Clemson, things fell apart in the second half as Bulldog adjustments on defense kept both passers from finding any semblance of a rhythm. 

Run Offense:  Similarly, Clemson ran the football well in the first half.  C.J. Davidson found holes and ran hard. His backup, D.J. Howard, also churned out yardage.  In the second half, however, things fell apart—partially because Georgia got out to a larger lead which made the slowness of a ground attack unattractive.

Pass Defense:  Clemson's efforts against the pass were admirable throughout the night, but it was clear that the deep ball was not a priority for Georgia's offense.  Nevertheless, holding Hutson Mason to just 131 yards on 26 attempts is quite a feat given his weapons at wide receiver.

Run Defense:  The Tigers run defense was practically non-existent.  Georgia racked up 328 yards as both Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb averaged more than 13 yards per carry.  Clemson couldn't stop runs up the middle or to the outside.

Special Teams: Special teams play was equally unimpressive for head coach Dabo Swinney's squad.  The Tigers allowed a 100-yard kickoff return to Gurley and missed their lone field-goal attempt.  If these holes aren't patched up, the Tigers could be in trouble all year.

Coaching:  Swinney's team was outmatched in every phase of the game, and it showed—particularly late in the game.  Swinney's commitment to playing two quarterbacks was understandable this early in the year, but at times it seemed like the swaps did as much to halt momentum as the efforts of Georgia's defense.  The Tigers' inability to stop the run and abysmal offensive performance in the second half showcased this team's shortcomings.


Georgia Bulldogs Game Grades
Position UnitFirst-Half GradeSecond-Half Grade
Pass OffenseB-B-
Run OffenseB-A+
Pass DefenseC-A
Run DefenseCA
Special TeamsAA
vs. Clemson in Week 1

Georgia Bulldogs Grade Analysis

Pass Offense: Mason, the consummate team player, will always remember this win.  But he won't remember it as an outstanding individual performance.  To be clear: Mason was more than adequate, but the Georgia passing attack was not a focal point of Georgia's offense on Saturday.

Run Offense:  It's hard to get much better than 41 carries for 328 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.  Gurley was Heisman-like with his 198 rushing yards on just 15 carries, Chubb was a highlight reel with 70 yards on four touches. A host of other backs found success, too.

Pass Defense:  For much the first half, Georgia's secondary seemed susceptible to the pass.  A number of halftime adjustments by defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt altered alignments and created confusion for Clemson passers.  As a result, the Tigers were completely unable to move the ball through the air in the game's final two quarters.

Run Defense:  Equally futile were Clemson's attempts to run the football late in the game.  Admittedly, this was not a point of emphasis as the Tigers fell behind by multiple scores, but a swarming Georgia defense snuffed out the running game more often than not.

Special Teams:  Georgia's special teams play was stellar on Saturday.  Kicker Marshall Morgan was perfect, kick coverage was (for the most part) solid and aggressive, and the return game was much-improved.  Gurley will get the attention for his 100-yard return—and rightfully so—but Reggie Davis was also a threat returning punts.

Coaching:  In hindsight, it's clear that Georgia's somewhat ho-hum first half was at least partly strategic.  Offensively, a fresh Gurley took over the game late after carrying the ball just four times in the first two quarters.  Defensively, the Dawgs came alive following adjustments.  When all was said and done, Georgia's coaching staff came away with a huge win against a good opponent.

All stats courtesy of


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