Roy Martin: Clemson - Florida State Preview


by - Correspondent -
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After a heartbreaking loss to Georgia Tech and a thumping from Texas A&M, the Tigers need to get their feet back underneath them. Maybe the only thing better than having the Utah State game this week, would be an open date.


Instead, they head to Tallahassee to challenge the elder Bowden. It is the ultimate reality show in the world of sports.

Along with that comes the father/son talk, the comparisons, and – most disturbingly – the constant shots of Anne Bowden sitting in a luxury box looking as if she has no clue what is happening.


It is time for the TV execs to make a change. Trade in Mama Bowden for Lauren. Play up the daughter/granddaughter role. She can be just as torn as her grandmother. Besides, she is much easier on the eyes.


That is something Clemson fans could use considering they have lost eleven of the last twelve to FSU, most of which were in a dominating fashion.


OFFENSE

It would be nice to have some sort of valuable insight to offer regarding the offense. You know, throw something out there that has not been mentioned in a while.

Now, I will admit to being dumb, even downright stupid. But, that is not the reason there is nothing new to report.

It is the same hurdles they have faced all along – blocking and catching. The former is the biggest problem and has been more of a constant. The latter is an off and on deal.


In regulation, this offense has averaged 16 points a game through the first three contests. You cannot win games doing that regardless of how good your defense is.

If the offensive line could ever get it going, the numbers could more than double. Whitehurst is as good as they get when he has time and his receivers cooperate. He just has not had help.


Now that Duane Coleman is healthy, the backfield is looking as strong as it has in quite a long time. Reggie Merriweather has been impressive in the last few weeks, as he has combined better than average speed, with some power.


The receiving corps is relatively new. Other than Airese Currie, Curtis Baham is the only receiver who saw much action last year. Mistakes are to be expected. However, they should come in the form of bad routes or timing. Dropped balls should not be an issue.



As for the linemen, Brad Scott better take an economy size pack of Goody’s with him this weekend. He is going to need it.


If Florida State is not the fastest defense in the country, they have to be one of the top five. Their front four are big, quick, and run extremely well. They may not have the well-known names many have grown accustomed to hearing, but it is early in the season. Some of these guys will be very popular when post-season awards are being handed out.

The linebackers are young, but they are good. Ernie Sims was one of the most sought after players in the country two years ago. Buster Davis is a load in the middle at 5’11”, 248 lbs. Do not let his stocky build deceive you; he is more than quick enough to man the position.


The secondary is full of athletes that can run. What is new there?

This defense seems to be better than the one they fielded last year. What is scary is Bobby Bowden says they are as deep as they have been in a long time. That does not bode well for a Clemson offense that is struggling to establish some sort of identity.

DEFENSE

Chris Rix may be the biggest head case in all of college football.

He is an amazingly gifted athlete who has shown flashes of being a top-notch quarterback. He has a more than adequate arm and the ability to make things happen with his feet.

He just cannot get things together mentally. One minute he looks like a Heisman candidate and the next he looks like a guy that could not start at Pickens High. He became the first quarterback in college history to lose to a team five times in a career when he lost to Miami earlier this month.

The success of the FSU offense has been mostly dependent upon which Chris Rix shows up. If the guy that plays to his capabilities comes to play, they can be nearly unstoppable. If the guy who makes freshman mistakes as a senior arrives, the Seminoles nearly always struggle offensively.



What is the best way to combat that? Pound the ball against a defense that ranks 100th in the nation against the run.


Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington are two very good tailbacks. They are quicker than a telephone and do not mind running between the tackles. They have to be excited about facing a defensive front that looked awful last week and has not been particularly spectacular against the run all year.

The Clemson defensive front definitely has their work cut out for them. FSU averages 6’4”, 306 lbs. on their offensive line, which is made up of three seniors, one junior, and a sophomore. Orangeburg native Alex Barron is the anchor and All-America candidate.

The receivers are fairly big and run well. Craphonso Thrope is their big play guy. He was nominated for the Biletnekoff Award and was having a good junior season until he broke his leg against Florida State. Physically, this is the best group of receivers the Clemson defensive backs have faced all year.

Florida State accumulated eleven yards rushing against Clemson last season. There’s a good chance they will have numerous runs over eleven yards this year.



They have a quality line and some outstanding backs. Clemson has yet to prove they can stop the run. There is no need for FSU to risk throwing the game away by putting it in Chris Rix’s hands unless Clemson makes some major improvements. Get used to hearing the names Booker and Washington.


SPECIAL TEAMS



Jad Dean will finally get a shot at kicking field goals. The job is his for as long as he wants to keep it.


Cole Chason has been a pleasant surprise so far. If the offense does not get things going he will see a lot of action.

The return game has the potential to be a game within a game. Clemson has Justin Miller on kickoffs and Chansi Stuckey on punts. Miller has proven time after time that he is dangerous. Stuckey has not had much of a chance to display his skills, but the talent is there.



Florida State has Leon Washington. For those of you that have forgotten, he is that bolt of lightning that took one the distance two years ago as a freshman. He is fast and powerful. The Clemson coverage units will need to play an error free game or he will make them pay.

Xavier Beitia returns for what seems like his seventh season as the place kicker. He has had a couple of big misses in his career, but overall he is a solid kicker.

CONCLUSION

Things do not look good for the Tigers. They seemingly snuck up on the Seminoles last year and easily beat them in Death Valley. That scenario will not play out this year. The Seminoles will be ready and waiting.

There is no question they are a more talented team than Clemson. Their overall athletic ability and depth is a result of being a nationally prominent program for the better part of the last two decades.

The luster of the Bowden Bowl has finally worn off. Most folks are tired of hearing about all of the subplots. They just want to see a good game. The odds makers do not think that will happen. FSU is an eighteen-point favorite.

After last week’s performance, one may argue that Clemson could notch a moral victory if they keep it within eighteen. As we all know, a moral victory is an oxymoron in the game of college football, especially when you’re 1-2.

Clemson is not as far away as some may think. A little improvement on the lines and some better tackling would have this team’s future looking much brighter. Of course, that has been said for three weeks now.


There is no reason to believe it will change against one of the better teams in the country. Until Clemson proves otherwise, daddy still knows best. FSU wins 38-17.

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