Clemson got into the meat of its 2023 season today when Florida State came to Death Valley with a #4 ranking and looking to snap the Tigers’ 7-game win streak in the series. Unfortunately the Tiger coaching staff let their players down and FSU walked away with a 31-24 win in OT.
FSU won the toss and deferred. Clemson started well, but after one 1st down, had to punt. FSU also started their opening drive well, moving from the 20 out near midfield, but the Tiger defense forced a 3rd-&-8 that the Noles couldn’t convert.
The Tigers responded with a good drive that saw Beaux Collins make a nice one-handed catch on 3rd down. The Tigers were also helped by an illegal participation penalty on an FSU player when he stayed in the game after his helmet came off. Just past midfield, the Tigers converted a 4th-&-1 to keep the drive alive. An offensive pass interference penalty pushed the Tigers back across midfield, but a couple of passes to Will Shipley and Tyler Brown gave the Tigers a first down at the Nole 17. A false start penalty and a collapse by the offensive line on a 3rd down run by Cade Klubnik led to a FG by walk-on Jonathan Weitz that put the Tiger up 3-0. When FSU got the ball back, the Tiger defense feasted on them and forced a 3-&-out after Jeremiah Trotter Jr. sacked Jordan Travis on 3rd-&10.
After the punt, the Tiger offense took over at their 49 as the 2nd quarter began. A run and a catch by Phil Mafah moved the Tigers into Nole territory. Brown made a diving catch to put Clemson at the FSU 6 yard line. A defense holding penalty gave the Tigers 1st and goal inside the 1. A couple of plays later, Klubnik went under center and pushed it in. It was nice to see the Clemson offense power their way in from that formation for a change. After the extra point, the Tigers led 10-0 with 11:33 left in the 1st half. On the ensuing FSU drive, the Tiger defense played tough but the Noles moved into Tiger territory as their receivers began making some catches. They eventually scored on a nicely execute pass that the Tiger defense completely misread. The score was now 10-7 Tigers.
Troy Stellato and Jake Briningstool made some big catches as the Tigers moved down into the red zone. I’m still convinced that Brinigstool is a vastly underused weapon for Clemson. Shipley snuck out of the backfield and caught a pass over the middle that he took into the end zone. The extra point made it 17-7 with a little over 2 minutes left in the half. Clemson went to a 3-man rush and gave Jordan too much time to pick apart the secondary as FSU moved into the red zone and then scored on a Travis run. I put that one SQUARELY on the shoulders of defensive coordinator Wes Goodwin. You simply can’t give a QB like Travis that kind of time to throw the ball. Goodwin is, in general, just too timid for my taste. Defenses just have to be aggressive in today’s game to succeed. Talking to ESPN just after the half ended, Dabo agreed that the 3-man rush was a mistake on that last FSU drive.
FSU started the 2nd half with a 41-yard pass to the Clemson 34 and a couple more passes got them into the red zone. After getting called for an illegal formation penalty on 4th-&-1, they decide to kick a 48-yd FG and tie it up 17-17. Clemson responded with a dud of a drive.
The defense started getting pressure on Jordan and got the ball back to the offense. Klubnik had a nice run after almost getting sacked and put the Tigers at the Nole 47. A face mask penalty moved the Tigers to the 14. Klubnik threw a beauty of a pass to Briningstool just as he was about to sacked to set up 1st and goal at the 1. A couple of plays later Shipley got his first rushing TD of the season. Clemson led 24-17.
The Tiger defense did a good job getting after Jordan and forced a punt, putting them at the 25. Mafah got a couple of good blocks on the right side of the line and ripped off a 46-yard run. Then disaster struck. FSU had been disguising corner blitzes all afternoon, nearly getting to him on several occasions. This time they did and it turned it into a scoop and score. The game was tied again at 24-24.
A couple of uneventful drives by both teams later, FSU ripped off a good punt that was downed at the Tiger 3. Despite a good effort by Mafah, the drive stalled and Clemson punted. FSU took over at their 18. The defense, aided by a holding penalty against the guy trying to block Xavier Thomas. On the next play XT got by two blockers and forced a 4th down. The punt return gave the Tigers the ball at their 43.
The Tigers drove down the field and got a 1st down at the FSU 12 but then the Noles defense tightened up and forced a 29-yard FG attempt. Wide left. The game was going to go down to the final minute. The Tigers forced a 4th and 10 with 18 seconds left and FSU had to go for it. The pass fell incomplete with 12 seconds left. Shipley had a nice run up the middle but the offense didn’t get on the ball and spike it and the clock ran out. Overtime.
FSU got the ball first and scored a TD on a pass to Keon Coleman, who had given the Tigers fits all day. Clemson got there possession and had a 3rd-&1. They made the stupidest play call I have ever seen. Bubble screen out wide??? WTH? You have two powerful runners and the line has been getting movement up the middle and you call that???
Between Goodwin’s timidity on defense and stupid play calling like that, I put this defeat squarely on the coaches. Clemson’s coaching staff really needs to look inward if Clemson is going to salvage anything from this season. There was no reason why the Tigers shouldn’t have won this game, other than the ineptitude of the coaching staff. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.