Clemson prepares to face the 4th ranked FSU Seminoles on Saturday, set for High Noon 12pm kickoff. The Tigers winners of seven straight in the series, are for the first time in 46 home games (Louisville 2016) find themselves -2 point underdogs to the Seminoles. Go ahead and mark that down as motivating factor #1 for this game. As Dabo Swinney will definitely squeeze every ounce out of that Orange and remind this team over and over they are “underDogs” in Death Valley. With the recent history both in the series and overall Clemson football is in a very unusual situation.
Here comes the Tomahawk Chops and the FSU Band blaring and throngs of fans hoping the Noles to live up to the pre season “hype” that has driven the FSU brand back to the top of the media’s pet this season. This being the first real road test for the ‘Noles (LSU was a home game in Orlando (neutral)) look for a lot of pre-snap issues along the offensive front as the Noles try to navigate the 110 decibels of crowd noise that will be focused on them from the first snap. Look for FSU to have as set of “scripted plays” on the first drive, designed to get immediate effect looking for a quick score to take the crowd out of this game.
On the other side of the ball the Tigers will be looking to get into the backfield in a hurry with its pass rush trying to hurry and take away the options on the outside and perimeter that is the wide receiver corps of the Seminoles. It’s going to be mandatory in the Clemson defensive game plan to play solid fundamentally, and contain the FSU quarterback in the pocket keeping outside leverage and forcing the quarterback into the pocket while collapsing it. Meanwhile, Clemson DB’s will need to play with leverage and strength to jam the Seminoles wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, as to interrupt timing routes … like slants and screens as these will be the “go to” when FSU attempts to counter the Clemson pass rush. Same will go for the Noles running backs and tight-ends leaking out of the backfield, searching for open zones after wideouts clear them out with vertical routes .
Clemson on the offensive side of the ball will need to stay “balanced” as they have so far this season averaging 486 total yards per game. Running the ball against this defensive front will be a necessity … for Clemson to win this gamer Will Shipley and Phil Mafah will have to combine along with Cade Klubnik for at least 150 yards. If the Tigers can establish the run and draw the Seminoles defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage, then Clemson can potentially find open areas in the seams of this defense and exploit them possibly for “chunk ” plays. For the Tigers to succeed they have to force the Noles to respect the run and when they dedicate that extra safety to the box. Then heavy play action and you chould find an open wideout or tight end in between the line backers and safeties.
Keeping the Seminoles in 3rd and more than 5/6 yards is also going to be very important, as you want to limit the FSU playbook on 3rd down. Limiting the “Big Play” will also be huge for this Clemson defense while 180 degrees the Tiger Offense has to find those same “Big Plays” (20 yards or more) to really get this FSU defense on its heels.
Clemson brings in a Veteran Punter, but a name from the past arrives to take on Kicking Duties for the first time in his career as Johnathan Weitz gets the call from Dabo Swinney to rejoin the team and will be the first guy out for FG’s under 45 yards.
After watching all of both these teams 3 games this season and rewatching the past two weeks and looking at the stats, the head to head matchups, and factors like injuries and home team advantage. We see the Tigers establishing the run, thus setting things up for play action success and drives that eat clock and minimize Jordan Travis’ chances and number of offensive possessions. Keep Travis contained in a busy and collapsed pocket and maintaining edge containment the Tigers are able to keep the big plays to a minimum …..
TIGERS 28 SEMINOLES 24