Combination of Factors Result in Clemson Tigers' Demise Against Florida State

By Colby Lanham

On the primetime stage once again, the Clemson Tigers had the chance to at least make a statement punch against the enigma known as the Florida State Seminoles. And the Tigers faltered in the face of the Seminoles’ athleticism and poise of quarterback Jameis Winston as Florida State routed Clemson 51-14 to further establish their ACC dominance.

Quarterback Tajh Boyd played arguably the worst game of his career, completing 17-of-37 passes for 156 yards and a lone touchdown, while tossing two costly interceptions and committing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. The offense itself only amassed 326 total yards as they struggled to gain any kind of consistency.

But the offense was only part of the problem. Any receivers not named Sammy Watkins struggled to gain separation from FSU’s physical defensive backs in man coverage and dropped passes decimated which put to rest any kind of momentum the Tigers could have gained. Boyd was not comfortable in the pocket, often flushed too early, felt pressure when there was none, and didn’t make the necessary reads when he needed to. Watkins had the lone touchdown of the entire receiving corps, while the rest of the group was either not targeted or proved themselves unable to match up against the physicality of Florida State’s defensive backs. In other words, it’s the same story as last season in Tallahassee when it came to the performance of Clemson’s receivers pitted against Seminole defensive backs.

Offensive coordinator Chad Morris also went away from the run too early when it was succeeding and tried to force the pass when he could have still stayed with the running game. Rod McDowell and Zac Brooks had some good plays, but they didn’t get their shots as the Tigers lost any kind of touch with the running game despite their early success with it.

On defense, the unit got stops early, but the offense was unable to capitalize. Eventually, though, the Tigers played their coverages too deep, and Florida State wore down Clemson’s defense with the short passing game. Defensive end Vic Beasley was a non-factor in Clemson’s pass rush thanks to left tackle Cameron Irving. While the Tigers got three sacks, Winston tore apart the Tigers’ secondary for 444 yards on 22-of-34 passing and shined in the national spotlight. Even the good play of Corey Crawford and Stephone Anthony was not enough to beat FSU’s offensive line at the point of attack.

With the loss, the Tigers fall to 6-1 but still plenty left to play for. While the big loss certainly hurts, the Tigers must not let a loss like this beat them twice as they travel to face the Maryland Terrapins.

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