Since 2011, Florida State is 3-2 against the Tigers and have won those games by 18 points per game. Clemson won last season by a margin of 23-13 at home in Death Valley. Both teams are coming off of a bye week heading into this game.
The Tigers are averaging 36 points per game and are passing for 304 yards per game along with rushing 169 yards per game. Clemson is led by one of the most dynamic players in the nation in DeShaun Watson. Watson has completed 63% of his passes for 1,950 yards with 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Watson has also rushed for 289 yards on the ground and one touchdown. This is the area that is the biggest difference from last season. In 2015, Watson rushed for 1,104 yards averaging 5.5 yards per carry with 12 rushing touchdowns. This year, the offense has not relied on Watson’s legs but might need him to make plays on the ground in this game to keep the Seminoles front seven off balance.
Running back Wayne Gallman will be available for this game after suffering a concussion two weeks ago against N.C State.
On the year, Gallman has rushed for 489 yards averaging 5.4 yards per carry with 5 touchdowns. He is tough inside runner that can wear down the Florida State defensive front and can also be utilized in the short to intermediate passing game.
Wide receiver Mike Williams leads the team with 39 receptions for 578 yards with four touchdowns. Williams is Watson’s main target on deep balls and dig routes over the middle of the field. Teammate Ray-Ray McCloud has caught 32 passes for 339 yards with two touchdowns and has the speed to take the top off of the defense.
Defensively, the Tigers are allowing 15 points per game and is giving up 132 rushing yards per game along with 166 passing yards to opposing offenses.
The Tigers secondary has played very well holding opposing quarterbacks to 50% completion percentage and has recorded 11 interceptions through the first seven games. The strength of the secondary allows defensive coordinator Brett Venables the opportunity to blitz off the edge to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Clemson will look to get Florida State into third down and long situations which will play into the Tigers strength of the defense. On the season, Clemson is holding opponents to 28% on their third down attempts.
Entering this game, Clemson in even in turnover margin and has recorded 25 sacks on the season.
The Seminoles are averaging 34 points per game and have a balanced offensive attack that is rushing for 212 yards per game along with passing for 271 yards per game.
Quarterback Deondre Francois is completing 62% of his passes for 1,876 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Francois has looked very good at times standing in the pocket in locating his wide receivers down the field. However, in other situations, he has looked like a redshirt freshman who rushes passes and cannot feel a pass rush from the backside.
Running back Dalvin Cook leads the team with 900 yards averaging 5.6 yards per carry with 7 touchdowns. Cook has not been the same dominant player that he was a year ago, when he rushed for 1,693 yards averaging 7.3 yards per carry with 19 rushing touchdowns. Cook has been used more in the passing game this year and has caught 21 passes for 356 yards with one touchdown.
Wide receiver Travis Rudolph leads the team with 32 receptions for 497 yards with 3 touchdowns. Rudolph will be counted on to stretch Clemson’s secondary to open up running lanes for Cook later in the game.
If Florida State gets into third down and long situations, this could be an issue for the offense. The Seminoles offensive line has allowed 21 sacks through the first seven games and will be challenged against an aggressive Clemson defense that has speed on the edge.
Defensively, the Seminoles are giving 28 points per game and is giving up 155 rushing yards per game. The secondary is yielding 233 passing yards per game and must play better this weekend against Watson and company.
Florida State is +6 in turnover margin and has recorded 24 sacks through the first seven games of the year. The unit is holding opponents to 39% on their third down attempts and will look to pressure Watson into quick throws underneath coverage.
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