CLEMSON — One of the bigger subplots early this week has been the Las Vegas line on Clemson-Florida State, which opened at 13 points and widened to 14.5 points by Tuesday afternoon.
Some have suggested this is a “lack of respect” for Clemson, although that scarcely matters given the source of the disdain – oddsmakers and college football fans.
Still, Clemson coaches and players have received numerous questions about the matter.
Coach Dabo Swinney said he isn’t surprised by the line.
“On the outside looking in, I’d probably pick them too,” he said. “But I’m not on the outside. I’m on the inside. It’s (ESPN College) GameDay, a top-four team in the country and playing well with a great quarterback. It might be a lack of respect on people looking at it from the outside, but they’re a really good team. Outside of Alabama or LSU, I don’t know of anybody that would be favored going to Tallahassee.”
Senior center Dalton Freeman concurred.
“Going in as a 14-point underdog ought to be a little bit of motivation for us, but you know what, they deserve it,” he said. “They’ve been picked to win the division, some people have picked them to win the national championship. And we’re just a team trying to get a win.”
Is the big spread excessive or realistic?
“That’s not for me to decide,” Freeman said, “but we’ll see on Saturday.”
OL competition: Swinney said he “anticipates” the offensive line that started against Auburn – junior left tackle Brandon Thomas, sophomore left guard David Beasley, senior center Dalton Freeman, junior right guard Tyler Shatley and sophomore right tackle Gifford Timothy – being available to start at Florida State. Beasley missed last week with a sprained MCL, Shatley left the game with a sprained ankle and Timothy was limited by ongoing knee soreness connected to an August knee surgery.
“We’ve had a chance to play several guys,” Swinney said. “It’s not like guys have been starting forever, just have a right to start. You have to practice. Whoever practices the best, that’s who’ll start the game.”
He said Beasley and sophomore Kalon Davis, as well as Timothy and redshirt freshman Shaq Anthony, will compete Tuesday and Wednesday, with their performance determining starting roles.
Shatley said he expected to practice fully Tuesday and Wednesday and is receiving physical therapy, with the hope his ankle will be 100 percent by Saturday night.
Freeman praised redshirt freshman Ryan Norton, who played heavy snaps at guard against Furman, but said he hoped for more “continuity” among the starting five this week.
“I feel like we played really well vs. Auburn,” he said. “We had our first five in there and we played the entire game. I thought we did really well. We went into Ball State and there was a little bit of a dropoff but we were mixing guys in. last week I thought we were doing a pretty good job and we started rotating guys in the second half as well.”
Moving inside: Swinney said Clemson practiced indoors on Monday – a typically light day – but hoped to move outside for Tuesday’s heavier practice.
“That’d be really big if we can get out there and go full-speed, get some competitive work done like we need to,” he said. “We don’t control that, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Hosting the Jordans: Swinney and Clemson hosted the family of late Belton-Honea Path offensive lineman Ben Jordan at Saturday’s win over Furman. Jordan, 16, passed away two weeks ago following a massive blood clot. He had attended several of Swinney’s football camps and was a Clemson fan.
“It’s a tragedy,” Swinney said of Jordan’s passing. “It’s a reminder that none of us are promised tomorrow. We’re all blessed and very fortunate to be able to wake up, breathe, go to work. If you’ve got that, and your family is healthy, what else do you need?”