NoleGameday

Florida State at Clemson- Game Preview

Clemson (8-0) Bio Flash:

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (8th year here, 69-26 record)

Key Players: QB Deshaun Watson, CB Mackensie Alexander, RB Wayne Gallman, DE Shaq Lawson

Last Year’s Record: 10-3 (6-2 in ACC)

Quick Analysis:

Around 3:30 PM on Saturday, the buses will make their way around Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. Stepping off these buses will be Dabo Swinney and his number one ranked Clemson Tigers team. The last time Clemson had this much hype around the program was the 2013 season. After beating Georgia to open the season, expectations skyrocketed. They reeled off five more wins in a row and climbed the polls to be ranked third in the country. The only thing standing in their way? Unbeaten, fifth ranked Florida State. The general opinion was that Clemson was back, and this was their year. Led by superstars such as Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and Vic Beasley there was good reason to believe Clemson could run the table. The Tigers were playing at home in Memorial Stadium, in front of a wild crowd of 81,500. Winning at Death Valley is a daunting task for any team, and most experts predicted a Clemson win. That was not the case. Clemson fumbled on their first possession, and quickly fell behind the ‘Noles. The Tigers went down 27-7 at halftime, and fans started to head for the exit. Florida State went on to win 51-14 behind the arm of future Heisman winner Jameis Winston.

 

Once again, the Clemson Tigers welcome the Florida State Seminoles to Death Valley amidst great expectations. This time, however, things are different. Florida State doesn’t have a once in a generation talent at quarterback. The Seminoles best player on offense has been hampered by injuries and may not be 100%. Most importantly, Clemson is the better football team. Offensively, quarterback Deshaun Watson can make any throw on the field and couples that with his exceptional running ability. Running back Wayne Gallman has carried the ball admirably after concerns about the position. Leading wide reciever Mike Wallace went down with an injury early in the year, but the Tigers’ passing attack has not skipped a beat. Clemson’s putting up 40.0 points per game, good for 12th in the nation. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive end Shaq Lawson is a tackle-for-loss machine and is constantly disrupting opponents’ backfield. Linebacker Ben Boulware is a quarterback on defense, and reads opponents’ plays particularly well. The best player on defense for Clemson is corner back Mackensie Alexander. Perhaps the best defensive back in the country, Alexander seems to do all of the small things right. He is tremendous in coverage, and isn’t afraid to make plays at the line of scrimmage. There is a mountain of pressure on the Tigers going into Saturday’s game. Fortunately, Clemson finally has the players to carry the weight.

4 Things 2 Watch:

1) Starting QB

This is the biggest question going into Saturday. Jimbo Fisher has yet to name a starting quarterback, although all signs point to Sean Maguire to get the nod. A two quarterback system could be utilized too, with packages added to take advantage of Everett Golson’s running ability.

2) Defensive Tackle Impact

In both 2013 and 2014 Florida State had a defensive tackle make a big impact. In 2013, Timmy Jernigan controlled the line of scrimmage and held Clemson to 3.0 yards per carry. In 2014, Eddie Goldman stripped CJ Davidson late in the game to force overtime and prevent Clemson from kicking a would be game winning field goal. Both of those guys are now playing football on Sundays. Look for someone to step up and make big plays on FSU’s front four, especially True Freshman Josh Sweat.

3) Jalen Ramsey

Jalen has had a sort of quiet season thus far. While he has been playing great, he has not been the difference maker many expected him to be in preseason. He’s dropped a couple of interceptions and given up plays he shouldn’t have. Last time FSU visited Death Valley, corner back LaMarcus Joyner had a huge game. He forced two fumbles and added an interception, all in the first half. If FSU wants to win, Ramsey is going to have to make a play.

4) Offensive Line

Clemson boasts an incredible defensive line and Florida State’s offensive line has been shaky all season. If FSU wants any chance in this game, it starts up front. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venebles is known for blitzing heavily, and will likely turn up the heat at home. Florida State’s offensive line has to be able to handle the pressure, otherwise it won’t matter who starts at quarterback.

Forecast:

This game is tricky. The narrative that “this is the world of college football and anything can happen” has been overplayed going into this game. Talent wise, Clemson holds a clear advantage. The only unit Florida State has an advantage over Clemson is Special Teams. It is worth noting that Clemson’s kickoff coverage has struggled at times this year, giving up a touchdown last week to NC State. However, when breaking down every position battle the Tigers hold a comfortable advantage. They are playing possibly the best football in the country right now. Florida State, meanwhile, is still trying to find their rhythm after being upset by then 2-5 Georgia Tech. On paper, this game is an easy call. But college football is not played on paper. That is what makes it so great, that is why millions of people spectate football across the country on Saturdays in the fall. With all that said, the prediction for this week is 34-24 Clemson. Florida State plays them close, but Clemson is too talented and eventually pulls away from the’Noles late. It should be a great game in Death Valley, as both Clemson and Florida State look to take control of the ACC Atlantic.

Ben Brewton
Writer at Nole Gameday covering football and basketball. FSU alum. Follow me on twitter (@Ben_Brewton) and we can talk sports. On the 8th day, God created college football.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *