On October 12 at 3:30 on ABC the Seminoles will be in Clemson, South Carolina to take on the defending champion Tigers.
Clemson is 5-0 on the year with wins against Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Syracuse, Charlotte and North Carolina.
The last time these two teams played was last year in Tallahassee. The Tigers crushed the Seminoles 59-10 in what was one of the most embarrassing home losses in years. The last time that FSU won a game in the series was in 2014, 23-17.
James Blackman will be the starter at QB. Hornibrook will play as well.
Left tackle Jauan Williams is back after missing the last 3 games with an injury.
Janarius Robinson will be suspended the first half of the game for a targeting penalty in the second half against NC State.
Punter Logan Tyler has put his name in the transfer portal. This move opens the door for Tommy Martin to be the full-time punter.
Cole Minshew has returned to practice for the first time since sustaining a neck injury last year. He was working with the third team in practice and most likely will not play this weekend.
Observations from the last game
Hornibrook played a solid game racking up a career-high 316 yards passing to go along with 3 touchdowns. However, he did take eight sacks and I would say four of them were because he held onto the ball too long.
Linebacker Amari Gainer got his first start and did not disappoint. He showed off his talents covering receivers and even proved he is a capable blitzer.
Ricky Agauyo was 1/2 on field goals and was replaced by Parker Grothaus on the two extra points in the fourth quarter. As of Thursday night there is still no word on who will be the kicker on Saturday.
Florida State defense versus Clemson offense
Clemson returns its four most dynamic playmakers on offense from last season, Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins. One big loss was Lawrence’s safety valve and slot man Hunter Renfrow. The inconsistent play of the slot receivers has been one of the biggest issues plaguing Clemson. It was expected that the backups would step in and be contributors but that hasn’t been the case so far. They have the talent but have not been able to get on the same page as Lawrence. If they can figure it out, then the offense will start humming again and Lawrence should be able to cut down on the turnovers.
The O-line returns three starters and another senior but are still having issues figuring out their assignments. These issues are nitpicky, but they all reared their ugly head against North Carolina. Once they figure it out they will be hard to stop. The Florida State defense has been improving in each of the last three games. The biggest leap forward has been from the linebackers, even with two starters lost for the year. In order for the Seminoles to slow down the Tiger offense, linebackers like Leonard Warner, Dontavious Jackson, Josh Brown and Amari Gainer will need to continue their solid play.
Florida State offense versus Clemson defense
The Clemson defense lost quite a bit talent on defense including their entire defensive line, but they do return linebacker/safety/Swiss Army knife Isaiah Simmons. Simmons is able to play the run, play the pass and even blitz whenever defensive coordinator Brent Venables asks him to. So far the future first round pick has been able to rack up 43 tackles, three sacks and has even gotten his hands on two passes. I imagine the Tigers will use him to try to slow down Cam Akers, but the QB will need to be aware of where he is lined up at all times.
Their other playmakers on defense are linebackers James Skalski and Chad Smith as well as defensive end Xavier Thomas. There are two position groups on the defense that are not up to Clemson standards yet and they are corner and defensive tackle. The best way to attack these cornerbacks is near the sideline so the experienced safeties are not able to help them out as much. The Seminoles have the personnel to do just that. Tamarrion Terry, Warren Thompson and Ontaria Wilson headline the most talented receiving corps Clemson has seen so far.
The inside receivers like DJ Matthews and Keyshawn Helton need to be threats in the passing game to help take the pressure off the outside guys. The inexperience of the defensive tackles will be harder for Florida State to take advantage of. Even with Akers sitting at 582 yards rushing (second in the ACC) it will still be up to the interior lineman Brady Scott, Baveon Johnson and Dontae Lucas/Mike Arnold to play great games to take advantage of this sore spot.
The placekicker situation has been shaky for both teams. Agauyo was apparently benched in the 4th quarter versus NC State after missing 4 of his last 5 field-goal attempts. Freshman BT Potter has not been much better going 5/8 on field goals for the Tigers.
Veteran punter Will Spiers has placed 3 punts inside the 20 while his counterpart Tommy Martin has placed 8 inside the 20.
DJ Matthews has been a threat in the return game his whole Seminole career but he is not only return man who has been making plays as Keyshawn Helton took a kick down to the NC State 40 last time out. Clemson is still waiting for someone to make a play in this phase of the game.
Even with Florida State looking like they are gaining momentum after heading the wrong way for a while and Clemson still trying to find themselves, it still appears on film that the Tigers are on another level. I think it will be a good game for 3 quarters, but then the Tigers will pull away. I believe the score will be 44-24 Clemson. The Garnet and Gold will need to play mistake free football and hope to have a plus 2/3 turnover margin in order to have a shot in the 4th quarter.