Clemson Football Oppo Research: Georgia Bulldogs

Clemson Football and Georgia will score more than they did in 2021 but the defenses will have the advantage when they open the 2024 season in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Nov 25, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs mascot Uga on the sideline before a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs mascot Uga on the sideline before a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Hyundai Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports / Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

In some ways, the new Clemson Football season still feels so far away, but the reality is today is June 1st. Here at Rubbing The Rock, June means one thing: it's time to start oppo research for the new season.

The good news is that Clemson kicks off the new season against Georgia. The bad news is that Clemson kicks off the season against Georgia.

What: Clemson Football vs Georgia Bulldogs

When: August 31st at noon

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia

Series History: Georgia leads the series 43-18-4. They have won the last two meetings, the most recent of which was in 2021 at Bank Of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clemson’s last victory in the series was in Death Valley in 2013.

Georgia 2023 Statistics

All stats per against FBS competition only

Points per game: 39.5 (5th)

Yards per game: 491.6 (6th)

Points allowed per game: 16.3 (7th)

Yards allowed per game: 291.3 (8th)

Those statistics sum it up well: Georgia was top 10 in each of those categories. Alabama beat them fair and square in the SEC Championship game, but when I look back I still wonder how they pulled it off. The Bulldogs didn’t have a weakness. It must have been the Nick Saban effect.

Georgia is returning much of the talent from 2023’s team, but not all of it. Star tight end Brock Bowers is in the NFL, along with receiver Ladd McConkey and Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint. Returning quarterback Carson Beck will still have Domonic Lovett and two other wide receivers with starting experience, as well as three incoming receiver transfers who have the potential to work their way into the rotation.

The biggest offseason addition will be in the backfield behind Beck, and he is a name the Tigers know well. Trevor Etienne transferred out of Florida and elected to join the Bulldogs. He is the brother of Clemson great Travis Etienne and was a primary recruiting target of Clemson as a member of the Class of 2022.

Etienne was one of the few bright spots for the Gator offense last season and he will be a big boost for the Bulldogs’ rushing attack, which wasn’t shabby to begin with (17th nationally in 2023). His presence will take some pressure off Beck as he breaks in new pass catchers.

The offensive line returns four starters, so there won’t be much of a drop-off there, if any.

If there is a potential area where the Tigers might be able to take advantage of turnover, it would be in the Georgia secondary. Defensive backs coach Fran Brown departed to take over the Syracuse program. Safeties coach and co-Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp is returning to a staffing position with the program. Additionally, three DBs from last year’s group were selected by Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

That said, and stop if you heard this one before, that doesn’t mean Georgia’s cupboard is bare. Malaki Starks and former Clemson verbal commitment Daylen Everette both return to anchor the secondary.

Georgia returns a lot of experience to the front seven (or six, depending on their scheme), so Clemson’s best shot to move the ball against them will be to take advantage of any dropoff in play by the secondary since this will be their first time playing with new coaches and multiple players who aren’t as experienced as the crew that led the defense last season.

To take advantage of any room the Bulldog secondary gives the Tigers, Cade Klubnik will need to be quick on his reads, find the open players, and release the ball quickly and accurately. Klubnik’s problem in college football has been consistency. Sometimes he is good enough to move the ball against Georgia, but the question is whether he will be able to do it consistently all night.

In most games, the presence of Phil Mafah in the backfield will help take some of the pressure off Klubnik, but Georgia’s defensive front is very good. Mafah is very good, but Clemson will need their offensive line to be very good to break even.

While Georgia’s offense does have talent, Clemson’s defense is very stout too. I expect both defenses to have an advantage over the offenses. I expect both programs to eclipse the 10-3 final from 2021 but don’t expect a shootout.