Written by Ernie Casanova
CLEMSON, SC-- It was a weekend filled with questions and possibilities throughout college football, with some of those questions being answered and discovered in the matchup between the Florida State Seminoles and the 4th ranked Clemson Tigers. Clemson came into this game one win away from a third consecutive ACC title game berth, while the Noles’ needed to win three of their last four games for a bowl berth of their own. It was a tough battle between both teams, but the Tigers handed this Seminole team another loss, convincingly, by a score of 31-14. Clemson improves to 9-1 (7-1 ACC), while Florida State drops to 3-6 (3-5 ACC).
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was tremendous for the team yet again as the Tigers look to be a legitimate force with him constantly under center. The Clemson defense was dominant the entire game, beginning on their opening possession. They shut down all hopes of Florida State possibly having a postseason as the Tigers look forward to their own. Clemson will now take on the Miami Hurricanes in what should have game of the year potential, in the ACC Championship on December 2nd.
The Clemson offense did what it usually does; pound the ball on the ground and throw short passes until it breaks the defense open. What breaks defenses open for them? A Bryant scramble that happens right before our eyes. As the Tigers’ offense were struggling early on, their defense kept coming up with big stops to get them the ball back. Bryant had a 16 yard run in the first quarter that showed Clemson how to wear down this Noles’ team. From that point on, the game was a breeze for the defending national champions up until the closing minutes, as they held the Seminoles scoreless in the first two quarters.
At the half, Bryant completed 12 of 15 passes for 80 yards and also had 41 rushing yards as he scored the first touchdown of the game on a two yard run. He has been the most efficient player offensively for Clemson and while healthy, he allows Clemson to reach their full potential. He finished with 20 of 30 passes for 151 yards passing and had a fantastic quarterback rating of 108.9. Bryant repeatedly makes the right throws to keep the chains moving and extends drives with his legs to create more opportunities for this team. While not every possession is a score, the consistency in getting Clemson to the red zone each time is what they benefit from the most.
Bryant was second on the team in rushing with 60 yards on 19 carries. First on the team and leading the running back group was Travis Etienne. He finished with 97 rushing yards on 14 carries and scored the second Tiger touchdown of the day on a 28 yard run. That score was set up by a 35 yard punt return from wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud as the Noles’ simply had no answer for the spectacular team play from Clemson. Etienne finished the game with two rushing touchdowns and his second one sealed the game with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter. Clemson running back Adam Choice also contributed with a touchdown of his own, along with 40 yards to bring the team rushing total to 227.
While not gaining much yardage in the air, Bryant completed passes to 12 different receivers, allowing the team to move the ball and open up the field. Leading the receiving corps for Clemson was wide receiver Hunter Renfrow who finished four catches for 35 yards. He had a crucial first down conversion as the Tigers were trying to maintain possession after a turnover late in the game. Going 8 for 15 on third down, the majority of those short completions were first down conversions and that was key for the team as they had 24 total first downs. While the Seminoles’ defense proved to be troublesome at times for Bryant in the pocket, this Clemson team did what they needed to do to maintain the lead. Although the offense puts up the points, a big assist came from the other side of the ball.
Offenses can be great at times on their own, but defenses can truly set them up as well. The Tigers needed some time to get things going offensively and with four sacks and a fumble recovery at the half, the defense gave them more than enough chances. Clemson’s defense was unstoppable, totaling 10 tackles for loss by seven different players and five sacks with one interception for the game. The defense was also very successful containing the Noles’ explosive running backs, as Clemson held their rushing attack to an average of 0.9 yards per carry and also forced two fumbles.
Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins spoke about the success against Florida State today. “We stuck to the game plan and stopped the run game. We did a good job keeping them to short gains and made them two-dimensional. Our guys played with great effort and energy.”
The Seminoles went 3 of 13 on third down and it allowed the Tigers' defense to get a good amount of rest as their offense took control of the clock, out gaining the Noles in time of possession by 13 minutes.
This was championship caliber defense displayed by the Tigers for the majority of the game and it will only guarantee them success through the end stretch of the season when it matters most.
“That was the next goal for us. You can’t play for the conference title if you don’t win the division. I’m so proud of this team. Nobody really picked us to win the league this year, and not many picked us to win the division, so I’m glad my guys didn’t get that memo. They just went to work. We’ve had a lot of guys step up and earn it.” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney stated after clinching the ACC Atlantic Division title in the process.
Florida State’s postseason hopes took a bit of a hit after a lackluster performance today. Quarterback James Blackman was under duress the entire game and couldn’t catch a break in the pocket. He must shoulder some of the blame too as a few of his passes were badly overthrown and underthrown to receivers who had space in front of them. Blackman completed 13 of 32 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. He also gave the Noles’ fans some hope as he showed flashes of creating some heroic moments.
With 8:53 left in the fourth quarter, Blackman found tight end Ryan Izzo for a 60 yard touchdown catch and run to cut the deficit to 17-14. Fans around the country have seen this before, as he is purely capable of comeback win in an extremely hectic environment. After an ensuing fumble by Clemson, on the first play of the new drive Blackman threw an interception that sealed the deal. It was a rookie mistake, yet he gave the Tigers’ fans a worrisome five minutes until up until then.
It was a great game all around with some exciting moments, but it was most certainly a dominant effort by the Tigers over the Noles’. The Clemson Tigers will take on Citadel Bulldogs on November 18th at 12:20 PM ET to keep pushing for a playoff spot. The Florida State Seminoles will take on Delaware State on November 18th at 12:00 PM ET as they now have to win each of their last three games for hopes of playing in a postseason game.
Written by Ernie Casanova
A Seminole team with five losses? Florida State on the verge of not playing in a bowl game? Those are things we didn’t expect to hear as the start of the season came along. As we are nearing the end of what is so far a tremendous season, this matchup between Clemson and Florida State isn’t holding the same weight today. Only one team is fighting for ACC supremacy, and it happens to be Clemson. Having their own imperfections, the Tigers are an unstoppable force with Kelly Bryant and are looking better than ever after their first loss. FSU should be in some slight trouble against the nation’s 8th ranked scoring defense and a very stout defensive front. The game will take place in Death Valley at 3:30 PM ET this Saturday.
This will be the 30th meeting between both universities, as the Seminoles hold the lead with 20 wins. Although Clemson has won only the last two matchups, they were victories that propelled them into the playoff. With a win, Clemson can clinch the ACC Atlantic and a spot in the ACC title game for the third straight year with a win over Florida State.
Kelly Bryant has been spectacular for the Tigers when healthy and shall look forward to another efficient outing. Although Bryant only has seven passing touchdowns, he has nine rushing touchdowns to go with 548 yards on the ground. He’s the heart and soul of this offense and will be the key to Clemson’s success or failure this coming weekend.
The Tigers passing game doesn’t flaunt eye-popping numbers but can create big plays that will throw this struggling Florida State secondary off at the right time. The Clemson defensive line should have its way and make life hard for the young guns, RB Cam Akers and QB James Blackman. It can take some time, but Clemson will do what many others have done, and that’s to wear down the Noles’ defense, pulling away in the second half.
Florida State has been averaging an underwhelming 192 passing yards per game out of the quarterback position, most in part because of the Blackman experiment. The Florida State offensive line has been subpar in protecting him, allowing 22 sacks with him under center. Nine of those were on road games, and he’s only been in since week three as well. Blackman has thrown the ball average at best with 1200 yards and eight touchdown passes but has shown flashes of coming into his own. The team has a potentially great defense, but their offense just has glaring holes that aren’t quick fixes. Cam Akers is young and looks promising toward the future, but he isn’t ready to carry this team yet.
Full of questions, Florida State is said to be sure of one thing: It comes in averaging 18.6 points per contest on offense and allowing 24 points on defense. As 18 point underdogs, this game will make or break their season. They need to win three of their last four games to keep their bowl streak alive, and it doesn’t look simple.
Clemson is home to the 13th ranked defense, and that won’t sit too well against the Noles. Florida State will most likely have their defense out on the field most of the game as Blackman and Akers try to get the Noles’ offense running. It shall be an interesting game to start, but the Clemson Tigers will be sure to pull away at the right time.
Written by Derek Robbie
Raleigh, NC - In a back and forth offensive affair the No. 4 Clemson Tigers held on to defeat No. 20 NC State, 38-31, in Raleigh, NC. With the victory, Clemson gained control of the ACC Atlantic division and likely strengthened their stock in the College Football Playoff rankings.
On the Tigers first third down, quarterback Kelly Bryant rolled out to his right and tried to force a throw to his receiver that was picked off by NC State’s safety Tim Kid-Glass, giving the Wolfpack the ball inside Clemson’s 40-yard line. On third and long, quarterback Ryan Finley threw his receiver open on a fade for a 40-yard touchdown. Harmon’s trip to the end zone gave his side a 7-0 lead with 13 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
A few drives later, the Tigers forced NC State to punt from inside their own 20-yard line. Clemson’s Ray-Ray McCloud received the ball and zig-zagged his way all the way to the end zone for a 77-yard return. McCloud tied the game at 7 apiece with nine minutes left in the first.
NC State answered back on their next drive which was a long one that ate up a decent amount of time lasting a total of six and a half minutes with 12 plays. Running back Jaylen Samuel ended the possesion with a 1-yard touchdown run that came from a direct snap. Samuel’s rush gave the Wolfpack a 14-7 lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
Clemson also answered back on their following drive. Bryant tried to find his receiver McCloud, but he was interfered with which gave his team first and goal on NC State’s 10-yard line. Bryant ran the ball in the end zone for the score and to tie the game at 14 with 14 minutes left in the first half.
By the middle of the second quarter, the game was already starting to look like an offensive shootout. The Wolfpack answered back when Samuel snagged the ball out of the air for a short 7-yard score giving NC State the 21-14 lead with nine and a half minutes in the second quarter.
Clemson had two 15-yard penalties to bring them inside NC State’s 10-yard line. The first flag was from a defensive pass interference and the second from a controversial roughing the passer penalty. Though they were in prime position to score a touchdown, they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from kicker Alex Spence. The kick cut the Wolfpack lead to 21-17 with just over five minutes in the half.
Both teams missed field goals on their final drives of the first half. NC State’s kicker Carson Wise missed a 34-yarder with 1:42 left in the half. Additionally, Spence missed a 39-yard attempt for Clemson in the final seconds of the first-half.
When asked about his teams’ first-half offensive efficiency, head coach Dave Doeren said, “Well, we were getting first downs, and getting them tired. And their defense was fatigued, we were able to get them misaligned and out of their stances. Ryan [Finley] had a good rhythm playing soft coverage.”
About halfway through the third quarter, the Tigers had 4th-and-1 inside the 50. Clemson left their offense on the field but instead of going for the first down Bryant took the snap and punted the ball downfield, and since nobody on NC State was expecting the punt it pinned them inside their own 1-yard line.
Clemson topped off a 9-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bryant to his receiver Deon Cain. Cain’s touchdown gave the Tigers their first lead of the afternoon with a 24-21 lead with just over three minutes in the third quarter.
The Tigers overwhelming defense forced the Wolfpack to punt after only six plays. On their first play of the drive, Bryant handed the ball to running back Tavien Feaster who ran right up the middle and was not even touched on his 89-yard touchdown. Feaster’s monster run gave his team a 31-21 lead at the end of the third quarter.
NC State responded by scoring on their following drive. The scoring play came on a 15-yard pass from Finley to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers to bring the Wolfpack within three points of the Tigers. Meyers’ touchdown reception cut Clemson’s lead to 31-28 with 12 minutes in the game.
The trend of this game was that when one team scored the other seemed to answer back on their following drive. This happened once again after Meyers’ touchdown. Clemson drove down the field to eventually have Bryant run the ball in for a 1-yard score. Bryant’s run gave his side a 38-28 edge with six and a half left in the contest.
NC State looked like they would answer back on their following drive until they got inside the red zone where Clemson’s defense tightened up significantly. This forced the Wolfpack to settle for another field goal. Due to Wise missing a field goal at the end of the first half, Kyle Bambard took the field to attempt the kick. Bambard made the 22-yard field goal to cut Clemson’s lead to 38-31 with 1:50 remaining.
NC State had the ball at the inside Clemson’s half with less than a minute left, but they could not capitalize due to the Tigers defense tightening up and forcing the clock to run out.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren mentioned there was a laptop on the Clemson sideline which is against NCAA rules. “I’d like to know why there was a laptop on Clemson’s sideline,” Doeren said. “I’d like that to be investigated. Maybe they weren’t doing anything, but I was told its illegal to have technology on the sidelines.”
NC State’s next game is next Saturday at Boston College, but the time has not been announced yet so keep an eye out for that over the next few days. Clemson hosts a struggling Florida State squad next Saturday at a time that will be announced over the coming days.
Written by Ernie Casanova
Clemson, SC-- Smashmouth, action-packed football on a Saturday night will rarely disappoint any viewer. On a gloomy rainy day in Clemson, the Tigers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets faced off in a battle that lived up to the meaning of a physical game. Throughout the the night, it became a blowout win for the Tigers with a score of 24-10 as Clemson improved to 6-1 (5-1 ACC).
With the return of QB Kelly Bryant, Clemson’s offense was back to its regular form as they quickly brushed off the loss against Syracuse two weeks ago. Moving forward and forgetting mistakes are beneficial to a team’s success, but not while they are missing key players. The Tigers’ offense was visibly missing firepower without Bryant, and this might just be the beginning of a run to Charlotte to compete in the ACC title game. That’s how important he is to this team. Clemson jumped to an early lead after recovering a Yellow Jackets fumble and didn’t let go of the gas pedal from there. Facing the 2nd ranked rushing offense in the country, not only did the Tigers’ offense shine but so did their defense.
At the end of the first half, Bryant was 14 of 19 for 143 yards and two touchdown passes, adding 67 rushing yards as well. He finished the game 22 of 33 for 207 yards and the two scores, with one of them coming off of a 38-yard catch and run from WR Deon Cain. That play set the tempo that the Tigers were trying to create as they got the ball rolling. They came out attacking head on and early against a very talented Georgia Tech defense and proceeded to allow the heavy rainfall to slow up the Yellow Jackets. Bryant spread the ball proficiently completing a pass to 12 different players and performed tremendously, disregarding any injury from recent. It will be a necessity for him to keep this kind of play up and help the team contend for a playoff spot, along with staying healthy. At the top of the receiving core was Cain with four catches for 57 yards and Ray-Ray McCloud with four catches for 40 yards. Leading the Tigers in rushing was Bryant himself, although a committee of sorts involving five other rushers contributed to the team total of 221 yards. Coming in second was RB Adam Choice with 54 rushing yards, although Travis Etienne had the lone rushing touchdown. It was a rather quiet game from RB Tavien Feaster and Etienne, but not too important to stress when you have Bryant playing the way he did. What really allowed the team to spread themselves apart on the scoreboard was the other side of the ball: defense.
Clemson’s defense came in ready for a battle against one of the best rushing teams in the country. For the game, the team totaled 11 tackles for a loss by eight different players and four sacks, allowing Georgia Tech to score just 10 points and attain only 230 total yards. This is the same Georgia Tech team that tallied up 427 yards and five touchdowns against a similar stingy defense in Wake Forest. The Tigers came in with a set plan, and they did not allow a play over 25 yards beside a 65 yard run by RB KirVonte Benson early on. They swarmed the rush to start the game at the line of scrimmage and made it impossible for the Yellow Jackets to keep moving the chains, as they went 1 for 11 on third-down conversions in the first half. That set up the offense to gain an early lead and put pressure on the opposing offense who has trouble passing the ball. Clemson proved why they are the 13th ranked rushing defense in the nation and the 7th ranked scoring defense.
The toughness displayed is through the idea that it’s like playoffs right now. Clemson is in the hunt, which is where head coach Dabo Swinney states, “It’s a playoff mentality every week. The rest of the way. And that’s the way it should be. We’ve got about 13 days left to the end of the division race and it ain’t gonna be easy.”
Swinney states that consistency and excelling in given opportunities is where teams are successful. “We’ll find out if we’re good enough when given the chance, but these guys are ready. These guys are locked in and focused.”
Georgia Tech rolled into Death Valley confident they can recreate some of the success they had against Wake Forest in the previous week. With the vaunted Triple Option Offense not coming into fruition throughout the game, Georgia Tech was forced to beat Clemson at what they struggle to do the most which is passing the ball. QB TaQuon Marshall was a subpar 1 of 7 passing for -6 yards and a QB rating of 8.3 up until there were eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. He finished 3 of 13 for 32 yards as he couldn’t give his offense any type of boost but did score their only touchdown on a 22 yard run. RB KirVonte Benson was the lone star on the team as he was the player the Tigers didn’t have an answer for. He totaled 129 yards on 16 rushes and was the only Yellow Jacket with positive yardage at the end of the third-quarter. An abysmal outing from Georgia Tech, this game might have defined their season. Tricky schemes can get figured out, and weaknesses get exposed. Sitting at 4-3, their team is a mixture of great running and below average passing.
Next Up -
Clemson faces NC State in North Carolina for a battle for ACC supremacy on November 4th
Georgia Tech will take on the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville, VA at 3:00 PM ET on November 4th
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