#2 Clemson vs Florida St: Preview & Prediction

Preview: Clemson comes off the bye week ranked #2 in the nation with a 5-0 mark and 3-0 overall. With a plethora of scrutiny and jabs coming from national media. You have seen some “pundits” jumping off the Clemson bandwagon following the Tigers underwhelming 21-20 win at North Carolina. The team that was the overall #1 coming into the season…has now fallen to #2 and look to come off a bye week and regain the respect this program feels it has earned with past performances. The 2019 Tigers look to come out and overwhelm the Seminoles who in year two of Willie Taggarts tenure are starting to show marked improvement. Offensively they have made big strides with the arrival of new offensive coordinator Kendall Briles. And on defense they are trying to build in depth behind a solid first team unit with a defensive line that averages over 300lbs across the front.

Dabo Swinney has faced scrutiny and criticism in the press and with some of the fanbase since the UNC game which saw the Tigers making mistakes and not playing their best game. The result was a drop from #1 to #2 by both polls on the following day. Now two weeks since the 1 point win in Chapel Hill and the Tigers offense is frothing at the mouth to get in between the hash marks and start snapping the ball. With the first half of the season almost gone and the 4 game (redshirt rule) span behind the team. You won’t see the benched emptied as often or as deep in coming weeks. Unless it’s literally way out of hand. Teams like to “peak” at the right times of the season, and this team is the same and status quo in regard to the past 5 seasons at Clemson. If things bear out as in the past, the Tigers should be ready to explode and start showing the ACC and Nation why they were picked #1 at the outset of this season. FSU is coming in with guarded optimism as they still need to show consistency and ability to play a clean mistake free and penalty free game. Even in their wins it has been a struggle for Taggarts teams to avoid penalties and miscues.

At 3:30 inside Memorial Stadium on Saturday the two long time rivals will once again meet as undefeated (in ACC play)… with each team holding its ACC destiny in their own hands. And if this is not your garden variety fathers version of the Seminoles, it is still a roster loaded with talent all over.. Just look at the RB/WR positions on the offense and know the Noles can score at any point in the game from anywhere on the field. But their counterparts in Orange field the same but bring with them an top ten defense that manages to find what any team does best and deny it from them. Stay tuned for an ACC Divisional battle live on ABC TV. CSN will be on site in the pressbox, on the sidelines and at the post game press conferences and player interviews.

When Clemson has the Ball:

Clemson went into the last game with UNC looking for consistency and continuity on offense as the Tigers offense had seen sporadic duties through the first 5 games of the 2019 campaign. The offense with the results of Georgia Tech, Syracuse and UNCC all never in doubt after the 3rd quarters and Clemson emptied each benches and took the starters out. At UNC the Tigers were set to play the starters in a meaningful matter and get them into sync and start to get this offense into a rhythm. Well with a day of unexpected miscues and bad offense the Tigers were not able to achieve that goal. Fast forward to the Seminoles and this Saturday.. the team fresh off a bye week is ready to prove all the “nay-sayer’s” wrong about this year’s version of the Clemson Tigers.

Look for the Clemson offense to run the power run game early and often, peppering in some outlet passes to wr’s in the flats and on screens. The goal is to tire out the FSU defensive line, and get into their depth by early in the third quarter. Then the talent mismatch shows itself in a big way with explosive plays in both run and pass game. Lawrence throws for 300 plus and 3 TD in this one and ET9 adds a 100 yard day on top of that. Amari Rodgers emerges as a threat on 3rd down and in the intermediate passing game ala Hunter Renfrow. A huge stat to remember in this game is FSU’s defensive efficiency on 3rd down is 79th in the Nation. And they are allowing 302 yards per game through the air to come in at an abysmal 121st in the nation. I can see the Tigers taking advantage on these big deficiencies Saturday in a big way here.

When FSU Has the Ball:

James Blackmon is the designated starter at QB for the Noles on Saturday. The FSU signal caller sat the last game versus NCST with a knee sprain and has had the bye week to heal. Alex Hornibrook in his absence performed at a high level in the Noles win over the Wolfpack. FSU walks in with two QB’s that can lead this offense for Kendall Briles. But the workhorse and best weapon on the Seminole offense has to be #3 Cam Akers is averaging around 107 yards per game on the season and is always a threat to break a big one. The key here will be stopping the run and forcing the Seminoles to drop back and pass on 3rd and long and let the Clemson defense try and confuse the FSU QB/WR’s in coverage and pressure them with the pass rush. The Tigers and Brent Venables have always prided themselves on taking away a teams strength. That would be Akers in this case so look for a concerted effort to plug gaps and make the running lanes for the FSU stand out less than desirable. End result when its said and done the Noles are held under their season offensive point average of 33.2 point a game will not be reached… not even close.. Tigers force several FSU turnovers and the Noles revert back to the Taggart teams of last season as they cannot find the offense mojo to find any consistency on the day. Venables and defense yet again bottle up another high scoring team with another wonder-boy coordinator finding out why Brent Venables is consistently named as one of the top coaches in all of college football.

Special Teams:

FSU: PK Ricky Aguayo is 20/20 on his XP’s but is only 50% at 4/8 with a long of 53 on his field goals. A trend that continues after his 11/17 2018 season was a downward sign coming into this year. The Seminoles Punter is a senior in Logan Tyler who came into the year averaging 43.2 yards from last season.

Clemson: Kicker BT Potter is 23/23 on his XP’s but has slipped to 5/8 on his FG attempts with a long of 51. Still a weapon in the Kickoff game so far this season he has 21 touchbacks out of 25 kickoffs. Will Spiers is the Tigers senior Punter and is having his best campaign to date as a Tiger, the tall lanky legacy kicker is averaging 43.4 yards on 19 punts this season.

Prediction: Clemson 42 FSU 17

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