#FSU at #Clemson – The Final Countdown

It’s been WAY too long. I’m happy to say Mark Gordon, an occasional writer for us has contributed his preview in much the same format (three positives/three negatives) as the previous. A great read below, check it out. There’s something for Clemson and FSU fans alike.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is once again that wonderful week of the year where I live for five days with butterflies in my stomach and lose about eight pounds from not eating. Yes, it is Florida State week as the #3 Tigers battle the #5 Seminoles in a battle that will likely decide the winner of the ACC Atlantic. There are three things that you can set your watch to this week: 1) Someone will say something AMAZINGLY stupid on Twitter. (Rashad Greene saying he didn’t even know that Clemson had a pre-game tradition until he watched a game on TV this year. 2) Get ready Tiger fans, the ‘Noles will be doing A LOT of taunting directed toward the fans at warm ups. And finally, 3) it will be a knock down drag out, heavyweight fight that will all make us feel like we just went the distance with Mike Tyson after watching.

After taking a look at the expert breakdowns throughout the week, there are just too many ways that this game is being broken down. Just to name a few, we’ve seen Boyd vs. Winston, analysis of Florida State and their schedule, Clemson’s consistency problems, all the way down to the star rankings of each position player on the team. After taking a look at Florida State all week, their competition and their style, I think I can sum them up in four words. They are for real. They are fast, smart, and aggressive. Instead of focusing on the Seminoles, let’s take a look at the Tigers performance so far this year, what fills me with confidence, and what I’m worried about in this week’s matchup.

What I’m Not Worried About

Brent Venables – Easily my favorite man on the planet right now. I LOVE this defensive scheme. He hides his blitzes well and uses his defenses strength (the front 7) to support the weakness (the secondary). That is why Brent has his defense at 10th in the country in points against so far this season. The only critique that I could possibly come up with for his defense is to maybe get the play calls in a little faster. This was exploited in the Syracuse game where the ball was snapped four times while Clemson players were still looking toward the sideline.

The Left Side of the O-Line – I think that I can count the number of times that someone has been coming clean on Tajh Boyd’s blind side this season on a couple of fingers. Kalon Davis and Brandon Thomas have been absolute anchors on the Clemson offensive line. The play of these two horses fills me with nothing but confidence.

Adam Humphries – Anybody else notice how much better our special teams has gotten since this kid became the full-time punt returner after a shaky week one special teams performance? Also, with Clemson’s struggle to find a solid #2 receiver, his speed and intelligence have given a huge burst of energy to a wide receiving core that badly needed a leader behind Sammy Watkins.


What I Am Worried About

Chad Morris – No I’m not worried about how many times they flash his salary across the screen per game (it’s sitting at about three times per game right now). What I am worried about is the way this offense has turned one-dimensional very quickly. He abandons the run game VERY quickly, and the tempo has significantly decreased as Clemson seems to be slowing to the pace of their opponents. Balance the run with the pass and look for short to intermediate routes instead of always looking for the long ball and this problem could quickly be a thing of the past.

The Right Side of the O-Line – To me, this has been a glaring problem since Georgia. Shaq Anthony is raw and is going to be counted on with the struggling (understatement) Gifford Timothy behind him on the depth chart. Tyler Shatley also hasn’t been the mainstay that we would like to see on the offensive line this year. Look for FSU to try to exploit this by bringing pressure from the right side to make Boyd scramble early and often.

Linebacker Containment – This linebacker core is solid to say the least. The one thing that worries me is that they seem to have a problem with the play fake, and picking up assignments from tight ends and receivers out of the backfield. If Nick O’Leary isn’t stopped, this game could get ugly. Spencer Shuey and Stephone Anthony are run stopping and tackling machines, but need to hold contain and not bite on the run fake or it could be a long day for Clemson’s secondary.

To me, the strategy is simple, play your own game! We saw last week that Clemson has a tendency to play to the strategy and speed of their opponents last week in the Boston College game. Play 60 minutes of Clemson football, and I think the Tigers come away from Saturday night with a win and a trip to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte.


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