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The Clemson Tigers' defense of their 2011 ACC Championship, will begin in earnest on Saturday as they travel to Tallahassee to face the Seminoles of Florida State.
The Tigers will be looking to start 4-0 for the second straight season. But, doing it in 2012, will definitely be much more difficult. The Seminoles boast one of the most talented and deepest defenses in the country. And while Clemson is very good on offense, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them.
When Clemson has the ball:
The offensive line will be a huge key to a Tiger victory. Clemson gets back Giff Timothy, as he has been banged up since the Auburn game. The Tigers will start the exact same offensive line that dominated Auburn to the tune of 320 yards rushing.
While offensive line play will be huge, quarterback Tajh Boyd must make good decisions and deliver the ball where the Tigers' receivers can make plays. In 2011, Boyd was efficient through eight games but slid in the final part of the season. Boyd lit up the Seminoles in 2011 for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Boyd must be decisive and accurate.
Andre Ellington, after his 231 yard performance versus Auburn, has cooled off a bit. Clemson will need a inspired effort from Ellington. This will give the Tigers' passing game the chance to make plays, especially if the Seminoles have to respect the run.
Florida State will bring to the table the number one defense in the country. And while the competition hasn't been great, all it takes is one look on film to see that the Noles are really good. Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner leads the nation with 6.5 sacks.
The Seminoles will rotate seven to eight defensive linemen and will bring relentless pressure. I expect Florida State Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops to throw the kitchen sink at the Clemson offense, unless he sees he can get pressure early from his front four. Florida State has only given up three points in 2012, which was a field goal in the opener versus Murray State.
When Florida State has the ball:
All eyes will be on E.J. Manuel, as he will lead the Seminole offense that is currently ranked second in the nation in scoring and 11th nationally in rushing. Florida State will bring to the table a trio or running backs, any of which can tote the skin and give the Tigers problems.
Chris Thompson, Devonta Freeman, and James Wilder, Jr., all rank in the top 10 in the ACC in rushing.
If there is one question mark for the Seminole offense, it is the offensive line. While there is talent there, this is a unit that has not played a ton of snaps together.
Florida State is the only team in the country ranked in the top 15 in scoring offense, scoring defense, total offense, total defense, rushing offense, and rushing defense.
As good as Florida State's defense has been early on the season, Clemson has been the exact opposite. The Tigers have allowed over 350 total yards in each game this season. They also rank 84th against the run. If there is one bright spot for the Clemson defense, it is the fact that opponents have only converted (9 of 41) third down opportunities.
The Tigers will need a dominant effort from a defensive line that has been less than stellar early on in 2012. Also, the secondary will need to play much better. The Tigers' back end has been flat out horrible at times this season. Bad angles, poor tackling, and poor ball skills have plagued this group through the first three games.
Florida State has a 17-8 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1970. Clemson has won six out of the last nine, but have only one win in Tallahassee since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992. In each of the last three season, the winner of the Clemson-Florida State game has won the Atlantic Division of the ACC.
Good stuff Fred. Thanks for that. I think this is going to be a fun game to watch.
Its gonna be great, pumped up
Good post Fred...
Personally, I think BV has FSU right where he wants them. They expect to be able to run all over us, but Venables will have some surprises.
I've had the opportunity to watch him closely out here in OK, and he's a dang good football coach. He'll have us ready.
Yeah Rob, I think if we can get a good effort from the front 7 we'll be fine. We know the backend is going to give up a play or two. Make EJ beat us...
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