Earlier this week, we took a look at the new-and-improved Seminoles offense – the defense, though, runs the show in Tallahassee.
Running out a deep-and-talented four-man front, FSU ranks No. 1 in total, rushing and scoring defense – No. 1 in the ACC in sacks as well.
They’ve gone 154:35 without allowing a point, held teams to 19 points or less in their last 11 games (Clemson has scored less than 20 points three times under Chad Morris, losing all three) and racked up 11 tackles for loss per game in their two full contests this season.
Two of the Seminoles’ opponents so far were from the FCS-level, skewing the stats a bit, but they were even more dominant against Wake Forest last week.
FSU-Wake Forest Defensive/Special Teams Notes
* The Seminoles have allowed three trips into the red zone all season, and none of them came last week against the Deacs.
* FSU allowed two plays of 10 or more yards – Wake Forest averaging 0.89 yards per play on the rest.
* The Demon Deacons had four drives of negative yards in the first half, punting eight times and turning it over downs the other – for a zero percent average on third down conversions.
FSU first-half defensive dominance against the Deacs
|Wake Forest Field Position||Plays-Yards||Possession||Result|
|WF 16||3 - (-2)||:53||Punt|
|WF 5||5 - 44||1:54||Punt|
|WF 5||3 - 5||2:05||Punt|
|WF 15||3 - 3||1:39||Punt (FSU up 7-0)|
|WF 19||5 - 14||2:05||Punt|
|FSU 43 (After fumble)||3 - (-2)||1:28||Punt (FSU up 14-0)|
|WF 18||7 - 7||2:54||Punt (FSU up 21-0)|
|WF 13||3 - (-3)||1:36||Punt (FSU up 28-0)|
|WF 25||6 - 19||3:30||Downs (FSU up 31-0)|
* A major issue inflicted on the Deacs was poor field position, as on kickoffs – Jimbo Fisher dared Wake Forest to return, using Dustin Hopkins’ strong leg to sky kickoffs and his coverage team to swarm the ball. FSU punter Cason Beatty also pinned his two punts of the half at the 5 yard-line. Tanner Price and co. had an average starting position of the 14.5 yard-line, outside of the one time in FSU territory because of an E.J. Manuel fumble. It makes you wonder if they’ll test Sammy Watkins and Tiger return game, or just surrender the 25. I tend to think the Seminoles will at least try to pin Clemson back, with the crowd behind them.
* FSU got an early look at what Clemson will do Saturday, with Wake running 18 plays out of the Pistol formation just in the first half. Obviously, very different athletes running it between the Demon Deacons and Tigers – the problem the Deacs had was just having one reliable target in Michael Campanaro, who led the country in receptions per game coming in. FSU’s athletic secondary held him to two catches for 8 yards. Jim Grobe’s club did hit its biggest running play out of the Pistol – Seminole linebackers playing it wrong and Deacs running back Josh Harris exploding for a 34-yard run.
* The plan was clear for the Seminoles last week - don't blitz - just let your superior athletes read the play and bust it up. And they did, amassing 11 tackles for loss and really only blitzing once-maybe-twice in the first half. From the secondary to linebacker to the d-line, FSU is stout, and it will be fun Saturday night seeing elite skill players on both sides going at it.
Clemson v. Clemson
We’ll continue to break down this year’s edition of Chad Morris’ scheme against the record-breaking 2011 campaign.
Through three weeks, 2012 has the edge in points (39.7-38.7), plays (80-77.3), explosive plays (11.3-11) and yards per carry (5.2).
The ACC champs edge year two in third down conversion percentage (53.1-50), passing efficiency (173.79-166.9), yards per pass (9-8.69) and total yards (522.7-517.3).
Individually, Tajh Boyd hasn’t had to post the big numbers in the passing game compared to last season, averaging 249 yards to the 303.7 after Auburn last year – six touchdown passes and a pick compared to 10 and an interception in '11.
As you might suspect, Andre Ellington’s production is up, from an even 100 rushing yards per game with three scores to 109.3 per and four touchdowns.
DeAndre Hopkins, with a heavier load the first two games, has 10 more receptions and is averaging 42.6 yards more per game.
2012 Clemson offense v. 2011 Clemson offense (Through 3 games)
|Category||'12 Clemson||'11 Clemson|
|Scoring Offense||39.7 PPG||38.7 PPG|
|Total Yards||517.3 YPG||522.7 YPG|
|Cmp. Pct. (Tajh Boyd)||73.3||67.3|
|Yards Per Pass (Tajh Boyd)||8.7||9.0|
|Plays per game||80||77.3|
|Explosive plays per game||11.3||11|
|3rd Down Pct.||50||53.1|
|Yards Per Carry||5.2||5.0|