Roy Martin: Clemson - Florida State Postgame Analysis


by - Correspondent -
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Florida State is a very good team. Clemson made them look a lot better.


There is no question the Seminoles are the better team. They are physically superior and seemingly had the mental edge despite Clemson’s lopsided victory last year. Mix in a plethora of Clemson miscues and there is your recipe for certain defeat.

Unlike years past, this September has been rather cruel. Clemson now has a much-needed week off to get ready for a new month, a national television audience, and the twelfth ranked Virginia Cavaliers.


Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of this week off is the chance to mend some injuries and psyches.


OFFENSE

Speaking of injuries, Danny Poole and his training staff has to be extremely busy trying to heal all of the bullet holes in the feet of the offensive players.


Clemson fumbled, threw an interception, or dropped a pass on at least nine of their thirteen drives. One interception led directly to a touchdown, and one of the fumbles began a Florida State drive that ended with seven more points on the board.

Kelvin Grant dropped a would-be touchdown two plays after Charlie barely missed a wide-open Chansi Stuckey.

Those are just a few of the mistakes. Not mentioned are the missed assignments, hurries, and knockdowns, all of which can affect the play of the quarterback and the effectiveness of the system. At this point, the offense would probably have trouble executing the simplest play in football – taking a knee.

Charlie had a bad game by anyone’s standards. He had a hand in all five turnovers and only completed ten of twenty-four passes. That is abysmal, but maybe not as bad as it seems.

The deep ball that was intercepted came on third-and-ten. Essentially, it was a punt. Actually, it was better than a punt because Florida State had to start with the ball at their four-yard line.


The interception that was returned for a touchdown was as much of a good play by the defensive back as it was a bad pass by Charlie. Yes, he could have gotten rid of it a little sooner, but Smith made a great break.


His second fumble came under pressure after he had been sacked for a nine-yard loss the previous play.

Is there reason to be concerned? Yes and no.

Charlie is still the same quarterback he has always been. He has been roughed and his receivers have not been a big help. I have counted eleven dropped balls in the last three games, some of which have led to interceptions.

Confidence is a must for any quarterback. It has been hard for him to keep his confidence because it seems that Lady Luck is doing everything she can to make life tough.


Fans should not be concerned about Charlie. Instead, it is the receivers and line that need to be the top concerns. These guys simply are not getting it done. It has been talked about every week. There is not much else to be said.

Perhaps the forgotten position in all of this is running back. Clemson has a quality backfield that can make a lot of things happen. Other than some minor blocking mistakes, this group performed well once again. Unfortunately, they are in the same position as Charlie. They are not getting any help.

DEFENSE


It has been all or nothing with the defense. That was again the case in Tallahassee.

All season long it seems like the defense has produced a series full of big plays or given up the big play and consistent drives.


The defense had four sacks and a number of tackles for loss against Florida State. Not bad considering the opponent. The problem is they were on the field for 89 snaps compared to the 56 for the FSU defense. They simply cannot get off the field.


Tackling is still the major concern. On Leon Washington’s touchdown run, the Tigers missed three tackles. There were various plays throughout the game where there were multiple misses. It is so disheartening to watch a team do that week in and week out because it is something every player knows how to do.


Justin Miller is supposed to be one of the top defensive backs in the conference. He is supposed to be a leader for this unit. He is supposed to be a guy that can be counted on.

Apparently, he has not gotten the memo.

In what has become a common occurrence, Miller was smoked for a 47-yard touchdown. If he is not playing well because he is thinking about going pro, maybe he should think about entering the draft as a special teams player. He has not done much, if anything, to help his stock as a corner.

The defensive line played pretty well. They had a tough challenge having to battle a huge offensive front. Considering their youth and size disadvantage, they did their part.


The linebackers had a decent game. The bright spot was the play of Nick Watkins. He had the best game of his young career and showed why the coaches were so high on him last year as a redshirt. He will see much more time as long as he performs at that level.


One of the things that has exacerbated the offense’s turnover woes has been the defense’s inability to generate them. Their struggles to get off the field will be made much easier if they begin forcing some takeaways. They cannot compete with the Florida States of the world when there is a zero in that column.

SPECIAL TEAMS


If not for the special teams, this game could have been over by halftime.

Justin Miller had a record-breaking day returning kicks. Most return men go four years without a return for a touchdown. He had had two, which now gives him three for his career to go along with two punt returns for a touchdown.


Cole Chason did not have one of his better days. Two punts of 36 yards and another for 25 hurt his average. The coverage unit also gave up two big returns. This punting scheme is designed to get them down field quickly. They have to do a better job of limiting returns.


Jad Dean had his best day of the year. He boomed his kickoffs. Only one of the four was returnable. As I have said before, one of the best plays in football is a kickoff through the end zone. It makes it tough on an offense to have to go 80 yards to get a touchdown.


CONCLUSION


Despite a miserable performance by the offense and an average one by the defense this team was still in the game through three quarters. Call it luck or call it fight, they managed to stick around when it could have been over early on.


No one should lose sight of the fact that Florida States is a very good team. Other than quarterback, they are as good or better than Clemson at every position. Big plays and winning the turnover margin is required to equalize that kind of talent, especially when you are on the road.


Clemson received a couple of big plays from Miller in the return game. Unfortunately, it would have taken five or more big plays to make up for the turnover margin.


There is no shame in losing to a team like the Seminoles. However, there is a lot of shame in losing the way they did. To be outcoached is one thing. To make stupid mistakes is another.


Clemson needed to take this week off to focus on the basics and reevaluate some egos. The chances of having a great season are pretty much lost at this point. Clemson would have to win out for that to happen. And with teams like Virginia, Maryland, N.C. State, and Miami remaining on the schedule, that is not very likely.


They can still salvage a good season. That has to be the motivating factor from here on out. Each week is another chance to get better and work towards a winning season.

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