Overall note: this was the best game Clemson has played at home since I’ve been watching Clemson football. That includes the Georgia games in ’81 and ’87. It was the best game I’ve seen at the Valley and that includes losses that were also good games like the ’77 Notre Dame game and the ’88 FSU game. So, with that in mind, everything gets an A+. I could pick things apart and give B’s for some parts because of specific things I saw, but that wouldn’t be fair when you consider what the team and coaches did Saturday night. Are things perfect? No. However, for a few hours on Saturday night they were.
The running game: Duane Coleman and Chad Jasmin – a one-two punch that was just what Clemson needed. It was like having one super running back in the backfield. Call it the Chuane Jasman (that’s better than the Duad Colemin). Jasman rushed 26 times for 100 yards. Jasmin showed quickness on the outside and power between the tackles.
The passing game: Charlie was razor sharp at times. The thing to understand is the precision that he operates with. With his performance so far this season, he has elevated himself to the level of Clemson quarterbacks like Rodney Williams and Woody Dantzler. He still has some games to win before he’s on the level of Homer Jordan, who won a national championship, and Steve Fuller, who turned a program around. But give him time. There are times that you see Charlie throwing into coverage around the endzone. But you have to think that it’s a calculated risk there, especially when your defense is playing so well. Also, Charlie stood in against a decent FSU pass rush. He took some hits just as he threw the ball that some quarterbacks would have avoided by pulling the ball down and running.
The bottom line: The offense got a huge lift from the touchdown at the end of the first half. There was a huge difference between 6-0 and 13-0. It gave the defense a TON of breathing room. It allowed the defense to play its same game early in the second half. Give the offense credit for then not going into a shell and trying to be too conservative in the second half.
Against the run: Our much-maligned run defense did the job. Florida State’s power running game was no match for the Tigers. Eleven yards rushing made the difference in the game.
Against the pass: The line got pressure on Rix, enough pressure that he lost his composure and threw two interceptions. Florida State had 358 yards passing, but a goodly portion of that came after the game was effectively over.
The bottom line: You hate to give more credit to the defense than the offense after a game like this where everyone played well, but let’s face facts. FSU never “figured out” the defense Saturday night and the offense doesn’t score 26 points without the defense putting it in position to do so. John Lovett deserves all the credit in the world for putting the team in a position to win by limiting Florida State’s running game and then putting the defensive backs in position to make the interceptions by disguising coverages.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A+
Kicking: What can you say about Aaron Hunt? He’s quietly turned things around. Tommy Bowden has put him in a position to succeed and Hunt has taken advantage of it.
Punting, kicking and kick coverage: I won’t even knock Cole Chason in this game. Jad Dean was reliable as usual.
The bottom line: Hunt’s consistency provided the Tigers with the points they needed in the first half. You can’t say enough about those six points that he provided.
What did Tommy Bowden do to turn things around so quickly? This wasn’t a matter of Clemson matching up poorly against Wake and matching up well against FSU. You don’t turn things around like this just on matchups. There’s more to it than that and I have a feeling Bowden had a lot to do with it.
Motivation: From the first play, the Tigers were into it. They were obviously motivated in front of the national television lights.