CLEMSON -- Dwayne Allen saw the void Saturday night in Atlanta. There was space between the safeties in the Georgia Tech "Cover 2" scheme, a weakness the Clemson tight end normally exploited, but Allen's turf toe prevented him from reaching the vacant zone.

Not only was star running back Andre Ellington (left ankle) missed in the loss and hoping to use the bye week to heal, but Allen was not 100 percent and needs full health for the Clemson offense to operate at full capacity. With Ellington and Allen injured, Clemson was essentially down two of its top three offensive skill players Saturday.

"I couldn't get downfield," Allen said. "I couldn't push off the way I wanted to. There was one instance where Tajh (Boyd) threw one over the middle for me and I couldn't get it. Usually I would be able to get up and make that catch. It was very frustrating. I was looking forward to having a good game and helping the team out ... and I wasn't physically able to do that."

Allen has played three straight weeks with the injury, catching 14 passes for 130 yards in that time, but dropping his yards per catch average from 14.1 to 12.4.

Allen is unsure when he'll be 100 percent.

"With this injury, you just have to give it time," Allen said. "It's feeling better. It's getting strength back."

Practice doesn't make perfect

Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said his defense had an excellent week of practice leading up to the Georgia Tech game, a night when Clemson allowed 386 rushing yards.

"You can take every single play on that tape and find multiple reps in practice with that play versus that call executed correctly," Steele said. "It breaks down for different reasons: some people out of nervousness, some people out of eye discipline, some people out of physical discipline."

'A very average defense'

Clemson's defense appeared to be making strides in midseason, holding Virginia Tech to a field goal and Virginia Tech and Boston College to just two plays of 20 yards. But in the last three weeks, Clemson has allowed 15 plays of 20 yards or more and allowed 38 points per game.

"We are a very average defense," Steele said. "Take a huge percentage of our plays and we are very effective ... but we still have the ability at inopportune time to give up big plays."

Depth charge

Mike Bellamy is now listed as a co-third-team running back along with Roderick McDowell, a step down on the depth chart.

"I got into his ear after the game and let him know it was fine," Allen said of Bellamy, who lost a key fumble. "We know the type of talent he has."