When the Florida State Seminoles head into Death Valley on Saturday to take on the Clemson Tigers, there will be plenty of attention paid to the outstanding quarterbacks leading both offenses. Tajh Boyd has been leading the Clemson offense to a high level for years now and has the Tigers on a path towards a BCS title appearance. If FSU hopes to upend Clemson and launch themselves into the national title conversation, they’ll need a huge game from Telvin Smith.
The senior linebacker has been a dynamic leader for the Seminoles’ defense this season. He leads the team with 32 tackles this season, including a team-high four tackles for loss with a sack and an interception returned for a touchdown. The 6-foot-3, 218-pound Smith made the switch to outside linebacker this offseason and has flourished, giving Jimbo Fisher an athletic playmaker who can make plays in the backfield or drop into coverage on slot receivers.
That versatility makes him a key piece in the FSU gameplan when they match up with Clemson. The Tigers boast a countless number of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and try and create mismatches with motion and alignment. Having Smith be able to line up and cover anybody from any formation will decrease the amount of pre-snap movement that the Noles will have to do to get lined up. That will help them minimize the number of times they get caught out of position at the snap of the ball and give them an opportunity to slow down the Clemson attack.
Having a dynamic athlete at outside linebacker like Telvin Smith is a huge boost to the FSU defense. He will have to bring his most disruptive game of the season on Saturday to break up the rhythm of Boyd and the Tigers and could ultimately be a difference maker with a big turnover (perhaps another pick six, even). Florida State must play defense to beat Clemson this Saturday and that defense relies on a huge day from Telvin Smith.