Florida State at Clemson: Preview and Prediction

Florida St at #2 Clemson

Memorial Stadium, Clemson SC

3:30 pm ABC/ESPN

When the Seminoles take the field on Saturday against the second ranked Tigers, they will do so as huge underdogs. Clemson is favored by 27 points, and FSU hasn’t been that big of an underdog in over 40 years. The talking heads at ESPN can spout off about whatever they like in regards to Clemson’s 21-20 win over UNC two weeks ago, but generally speaking, Vegas knows.

Coming into the season most projected this Clemson team as having the best chance at winning the national championship. Through the teams first five games they haven’t really resembled a team capable of winning it all, but if you have been following this team over the last few seasons, you’d know that isn’t all that unusual.

James Blackman will get the start for the Noles, but Alex Hornibrook is expected to play as well. The two QB’s have similar skill sets as pocket passers and neither will scare you with their running ability. Both can get the ball down the field, with Blackman having the stronger arm, and Hornibrook being less prone to turn it over.

The Seminole offense starts and stops with RB Cam Akers though. He is averaging just over 5 yards a carry, and he is doing it behind a less than stellar offensive line. FSU likes to establish the ground game with interior runs, but Akers has made a lot of plays running outside as well, though most come on runs that start inside. The speed of the Clemson defense should serve them well in that regard. Stop Akers, and you stop this offense.

The Noles aren’t as bad along the offensive line as they have been in recent years, but they’re still not very good, particularly when it comes to pass protection. There is talent at QB and there is talent at the wideout spots, but it doesn’t do much good if you can’t protect. Florida State QB’s have been pressured on 42% of their drop backs, and that doesn’t bode well against this Clemson defense.

New offensive coordinator Kendal Briles has implemented a quick passing game in an effort to avoid having his QB’s take deep drops. The use a lot of RPO’s, play fakes, and have made a real effort to get the screen game going. Despite the poor play up front, the offense has been more efficient than ikt was a season ago.

Coming off of a bye week, Brent Venables has had two weeks to gameplan for this one. As noted earlier, the key to stopping this offense is slowing down the running game, and with two weeks to prep, expect that to happen. The coaching staff has also had an off week to self examine the offense, giving them a chance to see where any adjustments need to be made, and iron out any kinks.

The Tigers have been hearing all the talk from the doubters the past two weeks. Expect to see a much more focused Clemson team. This coaching staff is at its best when it has that disrespect card to play, and the media has given them plenty of ammo to use in that aspect. When Clemson takes the field Saturday, the UNC game will be a distant memory….. Clemson 38 FSU 17




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