FSU exposes Clemson defense in 49-37 loss

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TALLAHASSEE – Raise your hand if you’ve seen this movie before.

Clemson’s offense played like a champion for three quarters, but poor tackling, blown assignments, penalties on defense and special teams coverage issues erased what was a promising 14-point third quarter lead for Clemson as No. 4 Florida St. went on a 35-3 run late in the game to defeat No. 10 Clemson 49-37 Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Clemson’s offense played well enough to take a 28-14 third quarter lead, and even led 31-21 at one point, but poor tackling and missed assignments allowed the Seminoles to rack up 667 total yards of offense, including 482 yards by quarterback E.J. Manuel, who found plenty of open grass in which to run (12 rushes for 102 yards) and throw (27-for-35, 380 yards).

It all adds up to this – Clemson’s offense has championship potential, but the defense can’t even be called a work in progress after it allowed Florida St. to put together an Orange Bowl-like second half, yet another embarrassment for Clemson’s once-cherished defense on national television.

“Obviously, we took a little bit of a step back tonight,” Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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said. “One thing I will say is – obviously Florida State’s got a really good football team. Playing a team like that, especially at their place, you can’t do certain things to help them. We helped them a little bit in a couple of areas.”

The Seminoles (4-0. 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed until late in the third quarter, taking its first lead at 35-31 on Manuel's 29-yard touchdown pass to Rodney Smith. Clemson (3-1, 0-1) had built that 28-14 lead early in the third quarter on a 52-yard pass from wide receiver Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
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Fort Myers, FL

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to Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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on a wheel route.

The teams combined for 1,093 yards offense as Clemson put up 426 yards against the nation's top-ranked defense.

Clemson needed just 86 seconds to score – the Tigers converted an early third down when Nuk Hopkins outraced the FSU defenders and hauled in a 60-yard pass from Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
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, the first touchdown scored against the Nole defense this season.

A six-yard run by Ellington was Clemson’s second score, and a nifty grab by tight end Brandon FordBrandon Ford
Gr. Tight End
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Wando, SC

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helped give Clemson a 21-14 lead at the break. However, Florida St. ran up 311 yards in the half, a harbinger of things to come.

The Tiger defense held on FSU’s first possession of the second half, and Clemson responded when Watkins took a lateral from Boyd and then threw back across the field to Ellington on a 52-yard scoring play.

Florida St. returned the ensuing kickoff to the Clemson 11-yard line, and that set up the 35-3 run over the next quarter with Clemson’s only points coming on a 50-yard field goal by Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
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Greenville, SC

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“The kickoff return was huge,” Swinney said. “Just a huge momentum swing in the game; it kind of lit a fire for them over there. We couldn’t stop the run. We just didn’t play four quarters. It’s a great game for us to learn and grown from. There is a lot of football left. Certainly we’ve got a lot of improving to do. Our team, I thought, fought hard, but again, right there we had that momentum change in the third quarter and we weren’t able to pull it back. But I’m proud of them for continuing to fight. The touchdown at the end was a nice job.”

Boyd completed 20 of 36 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns for Clemson, his last touchdown a 3-yard pass to Ford with 2:11 remaining in the game.

Swinney said the Tigers must regroup quickly and move on to Boston College.

“As we tell our guys all the time, the season starts tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll get home whenever we get home. We will get back at it tomorrow as a staff. You have to go on the road and win and we didn’t get that done today. We have another opportunity next week to go to Boston College. A place we have only won at one time. So, we have to try and get back on track. Obviously, this is a tough loss because it is a division loss as well and we don’t control our own destiny anymore.”

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson............. 14  7 10  6  - 37       Record: (3-1,0-1)
Florida State.......  7  7 21 14  - 49       Record: (4-0,2-0)

Scoring Summary:
1st 13:34 CU - HOPKINS 60 yd pass from BOYD (CATANZARO kick), 5-75 1:26, CU 7 - FS 0
    10:54 FS - Lonnie Pryor 13 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 6-85 2:33, CU 7 - FS 7
    07:01 CU - ELLINGTON 6 yd run (CATANZARO kick), 10-79 3:49, CU 14 - FS 7
2nd 14:35 FS - James Wilder, Jr. 5 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 4-74 1:21, CU 14 - FS 14
    10:06 CU - FORD 17 yd pass from BOYD (CATANZARO kick), 4-31 1:23, CU 21 - FS 14
3rd 11:48 CU - ELLINGTON 52 yd pass from S. WATKINS (CATANZARO kick), 5-67 1:23, CU 28 - FS 14
    10:09 FS - Chris Thompson 9 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 3-75 1:39, CU 28 - FS 21
    07:07 CU - CATANZARO 50 yd field goal, 9-31 2:57, CU 31 - FS 21
    06:15 FS - Rashad Greene 9 yd pass from EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins kick), 2-10 0:38, CU 31 - FS 28
    02:37 FS - Rodney Smith 29 yd pass from EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins kick), 7-64 2:41, CU 31 - FS 35
4th 13:25 FS - James Wilder, Jr. 5 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 7-77 3:08, CU 31 - FS 42
    08:34 FS - Chris Thompson 27 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 1-27 0:07, CU 31 - FS 49
    02:11 CU - FORD 3 yd pass from BOYD (TEAM rush failed), 11-69 3:08, CU 37 - FS 49

                                     CU       FS
FIRST DOWNS...................       21       27
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   38-136   40-287
PASSING YDS (NET).............      290      380
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  39-22-1  35-27-0
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   77-426   75-667
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      0-0     3-26
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     3-48    5-185
Interception Returns-Yards....      0-0     1-19
Punts (Number-Avg)............   7-41.0   3-35.3
Fumbles-Lost..................      0-0      2-2
Penalties-Yards...............     3-30    11-81
Possession Time...............    27:06    32:54
Third-Down Conversions........  7 of 17  8 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   2 of 2   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      3-3      5-7
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     1-10     2-12

1-0. Florida State-Chris Thompson 15-103; EJ Manuel 12-102; James Wilder, Jr.
9-65; Lonnie Pryor 3-20; Team 1-minus 3.

PASSING: Clemson-BOYD 20-36-1-237; S. WATKINS 1-2-0-52; BENTON 1-1-0-1.
Florida State-EJ Manuel 27-35-0-380.

4-69; JA. BROWN 1-14; COOPER 1-7; D. SMITH 1-1. Florida State-Chris Thompson
8-79; Greg Dent 5-72; Rashad Greene 4-36; Nick O'Leary 3-48; Kelvin Benjamin
2-71; Rodney Smith 2-48; Kenny Shaw 2-17; James Wilder, Jr. 1-9.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-None. Florida State-Nick Waisome 1-19.

FUMBLES: Clemson-None. Florida State-Rashad Greene 1-1; EJ Manuel 1-1.

Stadium: Doak Campbell         Attendance: 83231
Kickoff time: 8:12 pm   End of Game: 11:50     Total elapsed time: 3:38
Officials: Referee: Tom Zimorski; Umpire: Jim Eckl; Linesman: Michael Kelley;
Line judge: Tim Graham; Back judge: Delbert Bell; Field judge: Harris Tyson;
Side judge: Angie Bartis; Scorer: Frank Kosman;
Temperature: 87        Wind: NNW 5mph  Weather: 46% hum. Clear skies

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