Inside Clemson-FSU: Seminoles offense breakdown, pt. 1

Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. scores at touchdown past Clemson safety Rashard Hall and Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian in the second quarter.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. scores at touchdown past Clemson safety Rashard Hall and Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian in the second quarter.

Part one in our in-depth look at the matchup centers on FSU’s tendencies in ACC play and what went wrong at FSU last year…

Florida State Run/Pass Calls in ACC Play

Total runs: 106 – total passes 102.

1st down runs: 56 - Passes: 50.

2nd & long runs: 19 - Passes: 21.

2nd & mid runs: 12 - Passes: 2.

3rd & short runs: 3 – Passes: 2.

4th down tries: 0.


* Tomahawk Nation reviewed every pass Jameis Winston has made this season against FBS competition – and one of the areas they confirmed the numbers in is Winston’s desire to throw it past the sticks. Some numbers for you…

- Using the ACC play example, he’s averaging 11.9 yards per pass attempt on first down. Let that sink in. He’s averaging well over a first down for every pass attempt, just on first down.

- Per TN’s numbers, he has more conversions (13) than failures (11) on third and long and is converting 66.7 percent of third-and-9+ downs.

- Also per TN, Winston has a 59 percent success rate on passing downs (really good). FSU is ranked third in the nation in passing down success (Clemson is No. 28).

- Overall on third down, the redshirt frosh is completing 75 percent of his throws at 12.4 yards per attempt with four touchdowns and one of his two interceptions on the season.

- Per the Tallahassee Democrat, FSU’s first-team offense has had 34 percent of its plays go for 10 or more yards this season, which is better than both nation-pacing Baylor (32.7) and Clemson (21).

* The run-to-pass ratio is pretty even overall and in the either/or downs with the exception of 2nd and midway to the marker (12-2 run), while in third and short, FSU isn’t tied down to the run (In box scores Clemson’s playcalling been tracked, Syracuse and N.C. State, they’ve ran it 75 percent of the time on third and short).

* FSU is averaging 5.3 yards per carry on first down in conference play.

* Again in ACC action, the Seminoles are converting third downs at a higher rate (51.52) than their 12th-best national rank (51.02).

Categories FSU Clemson
Yards per play - allowed 7.9 4.7
Yards per pass - allowed 10.65 5.5
Yards per carry - allowed 4.4 4.2
3rd down % - allowed 51.5 18.46
RZ scoring (TD %) - allowed 15-15 (80) 2-5 (40)
Explosive plays (ACC) - allowed (season) 12 4.3
Total Turnovers (margin) - forced (margin) 1 (1.3) 10 (1.5)

What went wrong last year (Clemson ‘D’ v. FSU)

The tale of the tape isn’t pretty. 667 yards. 8.9 per play. 7.2 per rush. 10.9 per pass attempt.

Taking out the end of game kneel-down, nine of FSU's 13 drives ended in a scoring attempt.


Here’s how Clemson attempted to defend FSU last year (the tape Dabo Swinney said Tuesday he had to turn off)…

- I picked the second half intentionally here because we’re seeing what you would expect to be adjustments…

- Clemson is still running its 3-4 and 3-3 looks it displayed all game. Quandon Christian and Travis Blanks are hanging around the line of scrimmage a bunch. Seems like another freshman like Korrin Wiggins or Jayron Kearse will take Blanks’ spot this time around.

- Against the two tight end I, they fill the gaps pretty well and the safety makes the tackle.

- Versus an 11 look in the shotgun, they rush just the three and an FSU receiver drops a sure first down. Against the same personnel a play later, they bring five (three lineman, Blanks, Anthony) and E.J. Manuel hits his big target Rashad Greene over the middle. Bashaud Breeland limits the YAC though.

- Against a typical FSU 21 look, the Tigers bring four, have Christian spy and read the playaction well and cover all of Manuel’s options well (incompletion).

- Facing a bunch formation, Christian plays it great to push the FSU RB out of bounds early.

- Facing four wide for the first time on the drive, Clemson rushes just three with the MLB Stephone Anthony on Manuel and Manuel throws it in the middle of coverage. Punt forced: Six plays, 15 yards. Of course, Clemson will take a whole lot of that Saturday.

- Good first down stop in a formation FSU loves to run out of it (20 gun). But same formation a play later, Darius Robinson loses the ball against the much taller Kelvin Benjamin and he has to interfere.

- FSU hits the receiver out of the backfield effectively – last year and this year.

- The ‘Noles had very little respect for what Clemson could do stopping them on the edge. And with good reason, they ran the QB power for big yards all night. On this drive, it wasn't that bad however.

- First big run of the drive in the first I-look. Poor tackling. Poor gap control. Bad defense. FSU sees a weakness and just pounds it two more times for the score.

- (Outside of the NCAA video game series…) I’m no defensive mastermind, but I’d be surprised if Clemson differed much from what’s worked this season (in favor of the look they showed last year versus the Seminoles). They could stand up Beasley some, but I imagine Venables has more trust overall to run his base four-lineman scheme. On third down, that could see some variations, which we'll show Wednesday.

Check back Wednesday for a look at Clemson’s defensive improvement and a case study of the FSU offense this season (with more video)

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Comments » 3

TigerNE writes:

There's no question Winston is polished for his age/experience and FSU has a full array of receivers. And if there is one area of our defense that should cause the most heartburn for we fans, it's the secondary. I'm putting a lot of faith in Venables to get the next level of performance from each safety and to make the right calls to prevent the gaps we've allowed this season.

rsb8931#286014 writes:

We got beat down there last year by 12 points and we didn't have a defense. We lead them by 14 points with 10:22 on the clock in the 3rd qt. and that's after we didn't score on that overthrown pass from Sammy that would have been a touchdown and we would have been up by 3 touchdowns. So if you ask me, they got lucky to win the game and the only reason they won is because of our lack of any kind of a decent defense. Well, we have a decent defense this year and a better offense and Death Valley. Let's see if they can win Saturday night and if they do, God bless 'em and good luck to you!

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

Jameis Winston just did a really good Geno Smith impersonation. And Tajh Boyd curled up in the fetal position... again.

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