The game of the century of the week is upon us.
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables says there’s a three-pronged plan to winning tonight – and they all went wrong in “a recipe for disaster” against the ‘Noles last year in Tallahassee.
“Who wins that (explosive plays) battle, turnovers and the running game, to me those are the three elements that if you win two out of the three you have a chance to win,” Venables said. “If you win all three, you win 100 percent of the time. If you don’t win any of them, you have no chance to win whatsoever.
“Us limiting them (in explosive plays) and our offense outgaining them in that regard, turnovers and the run game will be a huge part of it. They do a lot of playaction, and playaction is no good if their run game is no good.”
Contrary to the narrative, our friends at Seldom Used Reserve say the Clemson offense is just as explosive as last year – averaging a run of 12 yards or pass of 16-plus every 7.5 plays…like last year at this point on the dot.
In ACC games, the Seminoles are hitting an explosive every 5.7 plays. Clemson counters with a ‘D’ giving up only 4.3 per in conference action.
The turnover battle? Both are in the top-25, but Clemson paces the ACC in a tie for fourth nationally in TO margin (1.5), while the Seminoles are back at No. 23 (0.8).
The run? FSU holds the edge going in both in rush offense and defense.
They trail only Georgia Tech’s option attack in the ACC with 228 rushing yards per game. They rank in the top-25 in yards per carry allowed (3.35).
The Tigers have yet to get the run game going, averaging 172.5 yards per (64th nationally) – the run defense hasn’t been much better (158.3, 65th nationally). Take out that nation-leading sack attack and Clemson is giving up almost 180 yards on the ground per game.
The good news? The 12th defender in orange has helped immensely. At home, they’ve contained opponents to 115.5 per game.
Dabo Swinney talks the crowd factor: This is a special place, and we're going to need our crowd to definitely be at an all time high and the best that it's been to try to create that energy that our team needs and also make it difficult for them, because it is difficult when all that is kind of working against you.
Chad Morris on FSU’s d-line: They are very aggressive. They’re talented. They’re very talented and deep at the positions. They’ll play a lot of guys and they play fast with them. They’re very aggressive upfront. Mario Edwards is one of their defensive ends and he was a part of that team last year. Now has moved into more of a starting role and they’ve got several guys behind him. They’re young. They had the most players drafted last year. They lost some really talented guys, but they have a lot of talented guys behind them that are stepping up and playing.
Venables on FSU’s receivers: They’re all big and fast and explosive and very skilled. They’re the best group of receivers we’ve seen, hands-down, nothing close.
(Nick) O’Leary, the No. 1 guy out of high school, he’s lived up to his billing. He’s a big outlet for them. He runs great routes and has great hands.
Sammy Watkins on trash-talking, press coverage and more: There’s a lot at stake this weekend so I’m sure there will be a lot of trash-talking and pushing and shoving. I can’t wait to be out there on the field.
I’ve been looking forward (to facing (Lamarcus Joyner). He’s a great defensive back. Pretty sure he’s going to be prepared also. They’re going to be doing a lot of press, which I’m prepared for that too. Can’t wait to get off the press and show that I can be physical.
We totally embrace the challenge and there are going to be a lot of big plays out there and key matchups that we have to win to win the game. I think this game is really on the receivers because Tajh is going to have enough time to throw the ball.
Their defensive line is pretty good, but they don’t have a guy like Vic Beasley. We have to accept the challenge to have fun and make plays and it’s really the receivers versus the secondary.
Coach is doing a great job with eliminating all the trick plays and stuff like that. We’re just going to run our base offense. Just be Clemson: fast tempo, running out on the edge and taking shots downfield, which is what we really worked on this week.
Jimbo Fisher on Clemson’s improved defense: I think they are older. They are more mature. I think they are comfortable in their scheme.
I think a lot of things, just like us offensively and defensively as we are growing through the year, I think guys have been in the system longer and they understand it. I think that allows, as you understand something better, it allows your talent to come out and you play much faster, and I think that's what's happening with them.
FSU v. Clemson: Seminoles' offense v. Tigers' defense (ACC play)
|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)|
FSU v. Clemson: Tigers' offense v. Seminoles' defense (ACC play)
|Yards per play - allowed||6.6||5|
|Yards per pass - allowed||9.7||5.8|
|Yards per carry - allowed||3.9||3.4|
|3rd down % - allowed||40||19.4|
|RZ scoring (TD %) - allowed||14-17 (71)||7-9 (44)|
|Explosive plays (ACC) - allowed (season)||10||5.2|
|Total Turnovers (margin) - forced (margin)||6 (1.5)||5 (1.33)|