FSU: 4-4, 2-3 in the ACC.
Mickey Andrew's FSU defense is quite possibly the absolute worst in the entire country aside from recent 1-A addition Western Kentucky. Its certainly the worst one he's ever fielded in his tenure as a DC at Clemson and FSU. One item of worry is his announced retirement: Will it encourage his defense to play to their potential for the first time this year? They still have young guys with alot of potential over there, many of them more highly rated recruits than ours.
I think its more likely Clemson's offense shits the bed. FSU's defense is truly horrible and might play a little better, but emotion and effort is not the problem in Tallahassee, technique is. Kyle Parker should not have difficulties finding guys open downfield and considering our pass-blocking so far, I expect him to have ample time to throw against this FSU D-line. The only question is whether he's going to use his head and not throw balls away too early or give up easy turnovers.
FSU runs a defensive scheme that has never ever been very complex: 2-man, 2-zone, and Robber. More zone than in the past because they suck at man coverage, which itself is affected by their poor pass rush. Its a basic 4-3 Stack and Under front system. They blitz quite a bit. Thus, it surprises me that they are this bad. It is not hard to teach.
We've previewed FSU's offense, and there isnt much else to say that I didnt cover there. Clemson's secondary is the best they've faced so far this year. UNC did ok against them in the first half and stopped the running game before injuries sidelined two of their LBs, and we will have to shut that down and make their offense one-dimensional. Its impossible to shut down Ponder and do the opposite, he's too skilled a QB. Pay no attention to the rib injury, this guy will play. My only expectation is fewer called QB Draw plays and Zone Reads than what they would run with him on a good ankle.
Their running game has potential and given the penchant by our LBs to overpursue and take bad angles at the POA, we could be gashed a few times. If they could play defense, their rushing stats would likely be better, as they've had to throw to keep themselves in games. Watch the FSU play-action game as well.
I expect Clemson to play Robber Defense against pro formations with Brandon Maye spying Ponder, though I also expect Maye to charge up the wrong gap and be left behind a few times. Cover 2 Matchup Robber is possible but will likely just be a basic Cover 2 Zone and 2-Man, out of Nickel and Dime defense. Given their speed and depth at WR, good Man coverage may only be possible for our 2 Cornerbacks and McDaniel.
Some press has been about Bowers, but his backup has more tackles per play average than he does.
Clemson's defense has not allowed more than 2 TDs at home this year. TCU scored once set off by a freak play and BC would not have scored if not for a fumble by Ellington and a missed assignment by McDaniel. CCU would not have scored against the first team defense.
On special teams, we're both average at coverage but we are considerably better at returns with Spiller and Ford. We will need Zimmerman to have a good day to pin them back and make their offense execute. Give them a short field with turnovers and we're in big trouble.
Feel free to comment throughout the games today and tonight.