Clemson's Defense Could Not Get Off The Field vs. Florida State

By Travis Patterson

It is hard to pinpoint one reason why Clemson lost to Florida State, because there were so many things that went wrong.  Heading into the game against Florida State, Clemson had only turned the ball over four times.  Well, they ended up matching their season total with four turnovers against the Seminoles, with the first two resulting in first quarter touchdowns.  However, the Tiger defense did not play at a high enough level for the Tigers to have a chance.  Last season Florida State racked up over 600 yards of total offense, and this year’s game just looked like a continuation of last year’s.  Clemson’s best pass rusher, Vic Beasley, was a non-factor for most of the game and whole defensive line was not able to ever pressure Jameis Winston with enough consistency.  The whole defense, with the exception of Corey Crawford, played as if they were lost on every play.

I like looking at certain stats, because I believe that there are certain numbers that can show you why a team won or lost a game.  One of the first stats that I always look at is defensive third-down efficiency.  Is the defense able to get off the field on third-down and force a punt?  Through Clemson’s first six games they were excellent in this category.  Defensively on third-down they held their first six opponents to a total of 23-for-97.  These numbers are terrific for defensive third-down efficiency, but it all came crashing down this past Saturday.  The Clemson defense could not get off the field as they allowed Florida State to convert 8-of-12 on third-downs.  A defense must be able to stop teams on third-down in order to be successful, and the Tigers were not able to do it.

Last season the Tigers allowed Florida State to convert 8-of-13 on third-downs, so there is clearly a problem with this defense when they play the Seminoles.  Clemson allowed 565 yards of total offense this year to Jimbo Fisher‘s team, which sadly is an improvement from last year’s game.  Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables called way too many zone coverages, and the Florida State receivers would just sit down in between the coverage 10-12 yards down the field.  I don’t know if Clemson would have been able to man-up with those receivers, but the zone coverages clearly were not working.

Dating back to last season Clemson has lost three games, mainly because of third-down defense.  In those three losses, they allowed a combined 27-for-46, 58 percent, on third-down conversions.  Those numbers are just awful and show that if a defense cannot stop a team on third-down, then it will be tough to win the game.  Yes, Florida State’s offense is very talented and executed well, but there is a common theme with Clemson’s defense that is troubling.  The Tigers must break out of this habit or else more losses will come in the future.

Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC  Follow on Twitter @tpat20.

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