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SPORTS LIBRARY, Clemson, football

With the football season less than 60 days until kick-off, we take an early look at the Tigers' 12 opponents for the 2019 season starting with the opener vs. the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Head coach

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Gone is former head coach Paul Johnson, and taking over the reins of the Yellow Jacket program is Geoff Collins, who left the Temple Owls.

Collins compiled a 15-10 record in his two seasons at Temple, including an 8-4 record and 7-1 mark in the American Athletic Conference in 2018, when the Owls’ only conference loss came at No. 8-ranked and undefeated Central Florida. His 15 victories at Temple are the most ever by a head coach in his first two seasons at the school.

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In 2017, Collins’ Owls won the Gasparilla Bowl with a 28-3 victory over Florida International, good for Temple’s first bowl win since 2011.

Collins’ 26-year career also includes a pair of stints at Georgia Tech, first as a graduate assistant and tight ends coach under head coach George O’Leary from 1999-2001, then as recruiting coordinator under head coach Chan Gailey in 2006.

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As a recruiter, he helped Georgia Tech land the highest-rated recruiting class in program history in 2006, and in 2007, he helped Alabama sign the No. 1 class in the nation, which included running back Mark Ingram, who went on to become the first Heisman Trophy winner in Crimson Tide history in 2009.

Yellow Jackets on offense

Collins brings with him a familiar face from his time with Temple to lead the Yellow Jackets’ offense in offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dave Patenaude.

Patenaude is a 28-year collegiate coaching veteran.

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Under his direction, Temple put together two of the three highest single-season passing totals in school history (3,273 yards in 2017, 3,297 yards in 2018) and ranked 24th nationally in scoring offense this past season. Individually, TU running back Ryquell Armstrong ranked second in the American Athletic Conference and 14th nationally in rushing (109.8 yards per game) and wide receiver Randle Jones ranked third in the AAC and 13th nationally in yards per reception (19.35 average) this season.

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“Dave has produced record-setting offenses his entire career,” Collins said of Patenaude. “He did a great job for us the last two years at Temple. I’m excited about the fast-paced, spread, pro-style offense that we’re going to run here at Georgia Tech. With his experience, the transition is going to be awesome.”

Yellow Jackets on defense

Also joining Collins from Temple is defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Andrew Thacker.

Thacker was promoted to Temple’s defensive coordinator in 2018 after joining Collins’ TU staff in 2017 as linebackers coach. With Thacker as coordinator, Temple’s defense scored eight defensive touchdowns (No. 1 nationally), forced 31 turnovers (No. 3 nationally), recovered 13 fumbles (No. 3 nationally) and intercepted 18 passes (No. 4 nationally).

“Andrew did a really good job for us the last two years as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach,” Collins said about Thacker. “He helped put together one of the best defenses in the AAC thanks due to his connection with the players, his motivation and his knowledge of the game.

"His stepdad [former Gainesville H.S. head coach Bruce Miller] was a legendary high-school coach in the state of Georgia. I’m excited to have him back home.”

The early line

The Tigers are 34-point favorites, according to Las Vegas' early line.

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Zach Lentz is a Clemson University alumnus who got his start working with the Tigers basketball team from 1999-2004. Now a resident of Orangeburg County, he reports on Clemson sports as a correspondent for The Times and Democrat. He also serves as a co-host of Solid Orange, seen at 11 p.m. Wednesdays on WACH FOX 57 in Columbia. He is editor of www.ClemsonMaven.io

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