Attention turns to No. 5 FSU showdown

Boston College's Chase Rettig fumbles after being hit by Clemson's Tony Steward during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Vic Beasley picked up the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Boston College's Chase Rettig fumbles after being hit by Clemson's Tony Steward during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Vic Beasley picked up the fumble and ran it in for a touchdown.

CLEMSON – Just minutes after the scoreboard hit triple zeroes Saturday, the countdown clocks on the WestZone flat screen TVs had already reset, toward next week’s showdown with No. 5 Florida State.

The play in the first three quarters suggested that clock had reset mentally much earlier for the Tigers, but Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris is more than willing to admit they just didn’t perform.

“We’re going to get the best of everybody. Whoever we play we’re going to get their absolute best,” Morris said. “I don’t think these guys were looking ahead – I don’t think our offense was looking ahead. That’s an excuse.

“I just don’t think we executed well upfront. We got to get better and be more consistent.”

Nevertheless, it didn’t take long for the questions to take a Florida State angle – a little too early for the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

Swinney on FSU: 'It's a big dang game'

Top-5 showdown on deck

“I don’t know guys. I’m just going to kiss my wife here,” Brent Venables said. “We’re going to have our hands full. They have as good a collection a talent as we have in college football.”

By the fourth quarter, ESPN announced College GameDay was TigerTown bound for a second time in eight weeks, a first for the show, and besides both teams’ national ranking, the head-to-head QB battle is already well-hyped.

Both Tajh Boyd and FSU redshirt freshman Jameis Winston are Heisman contenders, as they sit 1-2 atop the ACC in total offense (Winston – 315.2 yards per game, 19 TDs; Boyd – 328.3 YPG, 20 TDs).

“He is going to be a ridiculous player,” Boyd said. “He just goes out and lays it all on the line and that’s what it’s all about.”

JUST HOW THEY DREW IT UP

With its highly successful rate versus the Tigers, the Eagles’ playaction rollout was starting to get predictable by the second half, and that put the onus on Clemson to actually stop it late.

Third-and-eight and down three in the fourth quarter, B.C. quarterback Chase Rettig rolled left – and junior Clemson linebacker Tony Steward was waiting on him.

“That particular call, we expected him to scramble weak and Tony (was) right there ready to scrape,” said Venables. “He did a great job and that was the play of the game.”

Steward grabbed both the sack and strip, and Clemson’s defensive playmaker all season, junior end Vic Beasley, was right there for the 13-yard return to the endzone and a crucial late two-score lead.

“When I saw the ball I thought, ‘Ah, yes!” Beasley said. “I was waiting for this moment my whole career – it was my turn, I guess.”

SLOW START

Clemson took the opening kickoff for a 16th-straight time Saturday (third-longest streak in the nation) – a situation that had been pretty successful for them this season.

The last two games, they hit big-play touchdowns to score in a combined 1:24 on the game clock, and on the season, they had scored the previous four games.

That wasn’t in the cards versus B.C., however, and instead, they didn’t score on their first six possessions, which was their longest streak since 2010 (N.C. State, eight).

Clemson’s consecutive quarter-scoring streak was stopped at 21, which stretched back to the third quarter of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Part of the rocky start was turnovers, and more specifically, fumbles. Going in, the Tigers were plus-nine in turnover margin with one offensive fumble, but by the 2:14 mark of the second quarter, the Tigers had already fumbled three times and lost the ball twice.

“That’s something we haven’t done,” Morris said. “To lay the ball on the ground twice and we actually had five (total) – lost two of them. That’s very uncharacteristic of us.

“From a coordinator standpoint, you try to look for opportunities when you can coach hard and make corrections. This is definitely one of those opportunities.”

SHUT DOWN

Boston College running back Andre Williams wasn’t just racking up yards coming into Death Valley – he was destroying defenses.

Leading the nation at 153.6 yards a game, the senior posted 8.6 yards per carry in the two contests coming in, Army and Florida State.

Saturday, the holes weren’t there – and so went the opportunities to get out in space and break off long runs. He was held 2.9 yards per carry, with his 24 attempts totaling him under 100 yards for just the second time this season (70).

“We wanted to physically outmatch them,” said Venables. “Obviously that starts upfront, setting the edge. We had to point inside-out with a big, physical line. We couldn’t let him play behind his pads. He had a couple runs there and he’s a good player. Our guys brought hat time and time again and played with physical toughness.”

IMPRESSIVE EAGLES

Rest assured, Boston College won’t be overlooked by the returning stars from Clemson and Florida State next season.

B.C., which finished 2-10 last season, held leads on the pair of top-6 teams for 54:34 on the clock in a three-week stretch. They were 24-point underdogs going into both games.

BOYD RECORDS SECTION

They come week-in, week-out, but Clemson’s signal-caller again moved up in the career records area.

With a 14th-career 300-yard passing game (second in ACC history now), he became Clemson’s all-time passing yard leader (9,836). In total yards, he moved into second place all-time past former Georgia Tech great Joe Hamilton (10,788).

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Comments » 17

TigerNE writes:

My biggest fear is our O line. Morris has talked about it time and again. Unless we step up controlling the line and especially protecting the corners - will we get some blocking from TEs????? - Boyd will be running from disaster too much.

The good news is Boyd is agile enough that he avoids sacks better than most. But if he isn't given time it will be much tougher to make big plays on an FSU defense.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to TigerNE:

My biggest fear is our O line. Morris has talked about it time and again. Unless we step up controlling the line and especially protecting the corners - will we get some blocking from TEs????? - Boyd will be running from disaster too much.

The good news is Boyd is agile enough that he avoids sacks better than most. But if he isn't given time it will be much tougher to make big plays on an FSU defense.

That's the trick...can't really run consistently so far this season and Boyd's under pressure a bunch in the passing game. Need lots of improvement facing FSU's d-line.

CUNo1Fan writes:

Yep, the O line was supposed to be one of our big strengths being that we returned 4 starters from last year. They really need to step it up next week against FSU. I'm afraid BC may have given a pretty good blueprint to slowing our O down significantly. We didn't help ourselves in that regard either with 4 fumbles and losing 2 of them in the first half or blowing what would normally be sure points on two different FG attempts.

TigerFan95 writes:

The turnovers, dropped passes, penalties and overall lack of continuity were frustrating to watch yesterday but dont concern me as much as the horrible play of our O-line. Those guys up front have been a huge disappointment to me all season and they seem to be regressing each week. Unfortunately I think its a personnel and coaching problem that cant be fixed this season. I just hope we can keep finding ways to win.

lhaselden writes:

The only bad game our OL had was against NCSt. ya'll are nuts... the only problem I saw with our O yesterday was 5 fumbles and dropped passes... Sammy dropped at least 2. The problem with our running game was BC's LBs.. them boys are good and hit hard.
I was impresses with the running of ZB then I see on the stats that RM had more yards.
That was a hard nosed game yesterday... a game worthy of the Leather Helmet.

Bigboots writes:

Other than the turnovers and botched field goals, the plays that concerned me in the BC game were the third and long conversions.
This is something we've seen before. I don't know if our DB's are told to play soft or what the problem is, but we have a way of making the opponent look superhuman on 3rd down. And we didnt do a good job of containing the QB on bootleg rollouts. This basic maneuver negated our passrush on multiple plays yesterday.
Tighten up!

rsb8931#286014 writes:

For two and a half quarters yesterday we saw Clemson play an average football game and maybe even a little below average. Considering how lousy we played in the first half in all phases of the game, we were down only 7 to 3. We played a lot better in the second half, but still lacked that offensive magic we have had for most of the year. We mangaged to play quite well on defense and we did stumble around and win the game by 10 points and that's after giving away at least 6 points on field goals. We never miss field goals until yesterday. We played as bad a game yesterday as we could possibly play, but we won the game. I have an idea next Saturday night the Clemson team on the field will not resemble what was out there yesterday.

33dtb writes:

in response to CUNo1Fan:

Yep, the O line was supposed to be one of our big strengths being that we returned 4 starters from last year. They really need to step it up next week against FSU. I'm afraid BC may have given a pretty good blueprint to slowing our O down significantly. We didn't help ourselves in that regard either with 4 fumbles and losing 2 of them in the first half or blowing what would normally be sure points on two different FG attempts.

O-Line situation has "been fixed" every year since "late/grate" TB figured out that he was too smart to need an O-Line.
Sabsn doesn't believe that, either of his team or Clemson's.

Bigboots writes:

Sabsn is a narc.

CUNo1Fan writes:

in response to Bigboots:

Other than the turnovers and botched field goals, the plays that concerned me in the BC game were the third and long conversions.
This is something we've seen before. I don't know if our DB's are told to play soft or what the problem is, but we have a way of making the opponent look superhuman on 3rd down. And we didnt do a good job of containing the QB on bootleg rollouts. This basic maneuver negated our passrush on multiple plays yesterday.
Tighten up!

Don't know what you are looking at on this one, no D is going to be perfect on third down conversions but the Tiger D leads the nation in third down D. Let me repeat that the Tiger D is #1 in the nation in third down D. BC only converted on 3 of 15 third downs and and was 0-1 on fourth downs. So you saw 3 successful third down conversions out of 15 attempts against the team that leads the nation in third down defense and you are very concerned with that and we make teams look superhuman on third down conversions - Really? I can find a lot of things that concern me much more - get a clue about what is really going on before you post junk.

Bigboots writes:

Who said anything about 4th downs?
Watch the game and then see what you think.
Get someone to explain third and long to you.
I said nothing about all third downs or any other random statistic.
Third and long. Simple as that. Defense could improve on third and long.

putter2 writes:

We must pressure, pressure, pressure the QB. Rushing front four all the time will not work. FSU QB is young and slow but he will pick you apart if you give him time. We should show many defensive fronts and keep them guessing. Play calling on offense should be focused on what works not just because it is on a play sheet. Good Luck Tigers!

f8thwlk writes:

I have a feeling that the Tigers will be ready for FSU... Just a gut feeling. There just might be the heart of a champion beating in the collective chest of this team.

f8thwlk writes:

Look at it this way, Clemson is exactly where they should be at this point in the season...Plus, they are battle tested.

clemvol writes:

As old as this saying is "To be the best you have to beat the best" never rings more true than this Saturday. The Seminoles are not supermen, they are the same kind guys that strap on the pads like everyone else. You have to reach down for everything you have for every snap of the ball and bring a mean nasty attitude that florida state will not forget for a long time. This is just another obstacle that will be taken care of by the Tigers. The only thing left is for the fans to give everything like the Tigers will give everything. Now, lets get this done.

Tgr4Lf writes:

Can I just say that I am tired of hearing about the Florida State Seminoles!! They have played a total of NOONE, and BC dropped 34 on them. This year, this team, our attitude is different. We can win the shootout or the street fight. Bring them on, the Valley will be rocking, and our boys will be ready to smack them in the mouth.

clemvol writes:

in response to Tgr4Lf:

Can I just say that I am tired of hearing about the Florida State Seminoles!! They have played a total of NOONE, and BC dropped 34 on them. This year, this team, our attitude is different. We can win the shootout or the street fight. Bring them on, the Valley will be rocking, and our boys will be ready to smack them in the mouth.

Now this is the kind of post i like to see. All we need now is all 86,000 plus with this kind of attitude moving "death valley" every time the "criminoles" have the ball and we will have something going. I especially like the "smack them in the mouth part". Maybe a few teeth will be lost. Go Tigers

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