Undoubtedly, Clemson fans are much more enthused about their Tigers just 7 days later. Whether or not the competition on the field last Saturday was up to the SEC (or defending national champions) standard, the Tigers definitely showed more poise, determination, and fight than the previous two weeks. Both Chad Morris and Kevin Steele made adjustments before and during the game to give the Tigers a win. After seeing both the Clemson vs. Auburn game and Oklahoma vs. Florida St. game, it's needless to say that the Seminoles pose a far heavier mountain to climb than the one we climbed on Saturday. There are some key areas that the Clemson offense and defense need to focus on in order to succeed against a much improved Florida St. football team.
1. Buckle Down on Pass Defense - Florida St. has proven itself to be a passing offense. FSU Quarterbacks have hit a total of 14 different players for 976 passing yards in just 3 games. Two key players to watch out for in the redzone are Rashad Greene and Bert Reed who have combined for 7 of FSU's 10 touchdowns. Clemson has given up 583 yards against the pass, so the secondary will have to keep coverage and come up with some rushed throws.
2. Come on Strong Early - In each of the past three games we've trailed in the first half, and in both of the first two games we entered the locker room down. This is a key area of focus because Florida St. has only allowed 13 total points in all three games first halves combined. Their defense comes out strong, so Clemson's offense must come out stronger. They also do not tire as easily as the Auburn defense, evident by the fact that they only gave up 20 total points in the second halves combined. An early strike for Clemson is a key to beating the Seminoles.
3. Improvise "Rushing" Yards - Our rushing attack was less than stellar through the first three quarters against Auburn. We had very little success running up the middle and weren't producing until the defense wore down. This is going to be even more difficult against an FSU defense that has only allowed 231 rushing yards in three games. This issue is again compounded by the questionable Andre Ellington due to his hamstring problems. We were, however, successful with screen plays giving us good yardage and field position. We have to get our dynamic running backs the ball with some space to run, and screens could be the answer.
4. Get HOT in the RedZone - Our redzone success this year has fallen to a 69.23% (9/13). In order to keep FSU on their toes, the offense has to score when given the chance. Not only does our offense have to get hot in the redzone, but our defense does as well. Florida St. comes in with an 84.62% redzone efficiency (11/13) while our opponents have racked up a 90% redzone efficiency (9/10).
5. Eliminate the CHUNK plays - Clemson fans know that most of Clemson's offense comes in chunks and we're proud that we can move the chains quickly. However, fans also know that we can give up just as many chunk plays. Auburn showed that we can give up big runs, while Wofford showed we can give up long passing touchdowns. One key to our defensive strategy has to be to close the edges on the run and buckle down on the deep ball.
Nay sayers will nay, but Clemson has a definite shot at taking down the ranked Seminoles on Saturday. Momentum is on the Tigers side, while much of the nation will be on FSU's side. If Chad and Kevin can keep the players focused and willing to make key adjustments then Clemson could be out to its best start in a LONG time.