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Clemson Football: Defense, Special Teams Make Big Plays Early, Offense Shows up Later in 41-10 Win Over Georgia Tech

Carson Donnelly, Clemson Tigers Football

Carson Donnelly had one of Clemson's two blocked punts as special teams made a huge contribution to the Tigers' 41-10 season-opening ACC victory over Georgia Tech on Monday night in Atlanta.

The 41-10 final may not have been indicative of how tough the challenge was, but Clemson turned up the heat in the second half and eventually crushed Georgia Tech in Week 1. The Tigers can improve in many areas, and Dabo Swinney and his staff will analyze everything to make sure the team is better in Week 2.

Related: ACC Football Week 1 Notebook

When the coaches look at the film, here are some things that they will notice.

Clemson Football: 3 Takeaways from the Tigers' Win over the Yellow Jackets

1. DJ Uiagalelei was improved over 2021
The quarterback's completion percentage was up a bit over last year's average, as was the average yards per attempt. Not much, but a little. He didn't throw an interception — though he did have the fumble — against one TD strike. He also had a few well-placed passes that were not hauled in by his receivers and definitely looked more nimble running the ball. Overall, it was a nice game, especially since he seemed to become more comfortable as the game progressed. And considering how impressive true freshman Cade Klubnik looked in his stint at the end of the contest, Uiagalelei's progression better continue as the season goes on.

2. Pressure
Georgia Tech felt it all night long. Whether it was K.J. Henry, Bryan Bresee, and company dominating the line of scrimmage or Carson Donnelly and Billy Wiles blocking punts, the Yellow Jackets had major problems handling the Tigers. When given time, Tech quarterback Jeff Sims could make plays by finding the occasional opening in the Clemson secondary. But most of the night, he had Tigers in his face.

3. Offensive line looked a lot like last year
And that's not a good thing. Uiagalelei was sacked three times, and the Tigers averaged just over three yards per rush. Georgia Tech has some talent on their front, but Clemson will face teams with bigger, badder defensive lines during the course of the season. True freshman tackle Blake Miller had a rough night, and he will undoubtedly have better days as he gains more experience, but considering the group had problems at times in 2021, this is hardly a Miller-only concern. With Furman and Louisiana Tech up before a trip to Wake Forest, the Tiger offensive line will have some time to gel.

Written by Jon Kinne, who has been part of the Athlon Contributor Network for three years, focusing on the ACC and Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.