ATLANTA -- Taken as a body of work, this has been a season of improvement in several areas for the Georgia Tech football team. With three games left in the regular season there is little doubt that the Yellow Jackets are a better group than the one that started the season nearly three months ago.
Whether are not the Yellow Jackets are improved enough to challenge Clemson on Thursday night remains to be seen. The Tigers are ranked No. 8 in the nation and have lost only once this season. And it's never easy to take a team into Death Valley.
"Clemson is a tough place to play and they've got a lot of explosive athletes," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "So look at it as an opportunity to go in and measure ourselves as a team and see if we've made the progress we feel we've made in the past couple of weeks."
Johnson listed three areas that the team has showed the most improvement, particularly during the current three-game winning streak: pressure on the quarterback, blocking on the perimeter and running the option.
The quarterback pressure has been accentuated by senior Jeremiah Attaochu, who has two sacks in each of the last two games, and Euclid Cummings, who had a pair of sacks against Pitt.
The blocking has always been solid with A-back Robert Godhigh and reserve Synjyn Days has joined him in that category. As far as receivers, junior DeAndre Smelter seems to enjoy throwing a block, too.
As far as the effectiveness of the option, Johnson said, "I would like to think we're better at the mechanics of the option, although at times it doesn't seem like it. But from what I see in practice, I know we're better at it."
Tech is also remarkably better against the run. It's helped the Yellow Jackets limit opponents to 18.8 points -- an improvement of nearly 10 points over last year's 28.3 average. It's the 10th best improvement in the nation this season.
A win would keep Georgia Tech's chances alive for a second straight appearance in the ACC Championship game.
Tech is tied for first place with Virginia Tech, Miami and Duke with two conference losses. But Virginia Tech and Miami own the tiebreaker over Georgia Tech because of head-to-head victories, meaning both would have to lose another conference game. Virginia Tech closes with Maryland and Virginia and Miami finishes with Duke, Virginia and Pitt.
Notes: The starting time for the Alabama A&M game has been set for 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 23rd. It will be televised on ESPNU.