Saturday at noon on ABC the Seminoles will host the no. 4 Clemson Tigers.
Clemson is 7-1 on the year with wins against Wake Forest, the Citadel, Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Boston College with the lone loss coming to Notre Dame.
Florida State leads the all-time series 20-13, but are currently on a 5 game losing streak to the Tigers. The last time FSU won was in 2014 when the Seminoles prevailed 23-17 in overtime on a Karlos Williams touchdown run.
Observations from the last game
Chubba Purdy was playing it almost too safe in the first half but in the second half he started to let it go a little bit more, which led to more productivity out of the offense.
The defensive backs played too far off the ball many times. This allowed the opposing quarterback easy throws to get third down conversions. This has been happening all year and I’m not sure if it is the players or the coaches making that decision. In the second half the DBs were closer to the line and played better.
Florida State offense versus Clemson defense
Mike Norvell said that he expects Jordan Travis will be able to play this weekend, but we probably won’t know until game time. If Travis is fully healthy I think the Seminoles could hang for the first half. The Clemson defense has been without star inside linebacker James Skalski for about a month and it looks like he will miss this game as well. While Skalski has been hurt, his fellow linebackers Baylon Spector and Jake Venables have been picking up the slack. Spector leads the team in tackles with 46 and has added a couple sacks.
The Clemson safeties have played well but the weak spot of their defense has been the play of the cornerbacks. In order to take advantage of the cornerback issue FSU will need to protect the passer and that will be a huge challenge against this very talented defense.
Ontaria Wilson will need to build off of his huge performance against NC State, in which he caught 7 passes for 117 yards. The play of Clemson’s defensive line has only gotten better during the season due to the emergence of the freshman Miles Murphy and Bryan Bresee. Bresee got hurt at the end of the Notre Dame game and his status has yet to be determined. If he can’t go it may help the offensive line create a couple more holes for Travis.
Florida State defense versus Clemson offense
After missing the last two games with COVID-19 Trevor Lawrence will be back at quarterback. Clemson’s most experienced skill position players are Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers, both players have been major cogs in the offense in the past three years. Etienne has had a great year with 634 yards rushing and 12 total TDs, but he did have one of us worst career performances against Notre Dame. He is too good of a player to expect him to play like that every game.
Rodgers leads the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs but the rest of the receiving group has been finding is footing the past couple games. Receivers Cornell Powell, Frank Ladson and tight end Braden Gallaway are other receiving threats to look out for.
The offensive line is not quite up to the standard Clemson is used to, but they are young and still talented. I think the only way for FSU to slow down Clemson will be to focus on the running game then force them to pass. That strategy may not work against an offense that is this good and a quarterback that will most likely be taken no. 1 overall. I would like to see the defensive tackles Robert Cooper and Dennis Briggs build on the game from last week and help create holes for Emmitt Rice and Stephen Dix to get to the ball carrier.
The special teams unit was a disappointment last weekend especially after that muffed punt in the third quarter. Parker Grothaus made his only field goal attempt and Mastromammo had a decent game. On the other side of the field Clemson’s special teams has been solid this year. The kicker, BT Potter, has been one of the best in the college football this year connecting on 14/17 field goals. Punter Will Spiers has placed 11 of his 27 punts inside the 20 and Amari Rodgers is a dangerous returning man.
If the Seminoles were undefeated and had every player available I still think I would pick Clemson to win. Florida State is in danger of following to 2-7 and over 70% of the snaps are going to first or second year players. Hopefully they will hang around going into halftime and continue improving.