Dan Scott: Clemson-Florida State Prediction


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Another football season, another year of predictions. Much to the chagrin of some, I'm sure. Amid much laughter to others, no doubt. But, undaunted, we saddle it up and try yet again (What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results).

Anyway, 2007 season here we come.

WEEK ONE

No. 19 Florida State at Clemson

When Clemson Has The Ball

Among all the coaching changes made by Bobby Bowden, he didn't touch defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. So the Tigers know what to expect from the Seminole defense. The challenge here comes in the trenches, where FSU's talented defensive line will be an immediate test for Clemson's big guys up front. The Tigers' offensive line must create space for James Davis and C.J. Spiller to run effectively, which will have the domino effect of keeping the heat off Harper. Harper, for his part, must hit open receivers when he has the opportunity. Missed chances here can be a killer. Though the Tigers know Andrews' defense well, the unknown aspect of Clemson's offense leads one to think conservatively here.

ADVANTAGE - Slight to FSU

When FSU Has The Ball

Much has been made of Florida State's hiring of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and offensive line coach Rick Trickett, and rightly so. Both have a track record of great success at their respective positions. Word out of Tallahassee is that the entire offense has received more coaching - quality coaching, anyway - since the spring than they had in the 2-3 years previous. That's good news for the likes of quarterback Drew Weatherford and Co. The bad news is the Seminoles are facing a Clemson defense that potentially could be the best in Tommy Bowden's tenure. And with all the hype surrounding the new coaches at FSU, this is the first time they've put the changes in action. There are bound to be some mistakes in the first game in a new system. That, coupled with Clemson's experience on defense, bodes well for the Tigers.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson

Special Teams

All the reports out of Clemson camp are positive concerning the special teams. Mark Buchholz has kicked well, Jimmy Maners has punted well, and the kickoff coverage team has been getting good reviews. Still, none of the good stuff has happened in a game. And until there is actual proof of improvement, again it's wise to err on the side of caution.

ADVANTAGE - Florida State

Intangibles

A new category this year that will take in the old one, coaching, as well as other aspects of the game. The little things, the unknown things, that can change the course of the action. And Monday night, it seems the intangibles will be on Clemson's side. While both schools are coming off disappointing seasons and hope for rejuvenation in 2007, only one has a coach whose job has been under scrutiny during the offseason. All during the preseason there's been a sense of calm, yet also a sense of purpose, coming out of Clemson camp. That, and 80,000 screaming for the home team should work in the Tigers' favor.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson

BOTTOM LINE

With the talent level of these teams never closer, something else will come into play to help determine the outcome. Here, while FSU's new coaches will ultimately prove to have a major impact on the program, the Seminoles have yet to play a real down under new leadership. Clemson may be fortunate to get FSU in Week One rather than Week Nine.

THE PICK

Clemson 21, FSU 13

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