2012 Florida State Football: 5 Keys for Winning Against the Clemson Tigers
What does 176-3 mean to you?
To Florida State, it's the total points they've scored versus points given up to opponents over their first three weeks of games. This weekend, the Clemson Tigers roll into town along with ESPN's College Gameday. Pressure will be high on E.J. Manuel and his squad to prove that their ranking is legit, and that the preseason hype that surrounded them is actually for real this time around.
If the Seminoles abide by the following five keys, they will have little trouble with their Atlantic Division rival.
Utilize Running Back Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson is good, and against Clemson he has the chance to be the ringer. He's currently averaging an absurd 14.1 yards per carry, which has nowhere to go but down, but might not sink too far against the Tigers.
Clemson allowed Furman running back Jerodis Williams to rush for 4.6 yards per carry last week, and let Ball State's Horactio Banks go for 120 on seven carries with two scores.
Running Thompson early and often only favors the Seminoles.
Go for the Big Plays
If there is one thing the Tigers defense has shown a propensity for, it's giving up the big plays. Even against the non-BCS conference teams, secondary defenders were losing their men, and backs were breaking tackles for chunk yardage.
Jimbo Fisher and staff have to draw up plays to capitalize on a young and inexperienced Clemson defense learning a new system under Brent Venables. There is no reason to play conservative against the Tigers defense. They will provide teams with the opportunity to score and it will be up to the Seminoles to take advantage.
Get Pressure on Clemson Quarterback Tajh Boyd
The Clemson offensive line, which was supposed to be a major weak point of the team, has been surprisingly stingy this year. They haven't allowed a sack in their last 10 quarters of play. Making Tajh Boyd jumpy in the pocket will be key to forcing turnovers and snowballing Clemson in the wrong direction.
FSU, lead by Bjoern Werner, will need to break through the young Tigers O-Line consistently to halt the Clemson offensive machine. Boyd has shown that he will force some questionable passes in a pinch, which is where FSU can capitalize.
FSU needs to turn the powerful Clemson offense into a predictable one. Scoring early and often will likely force Clemson to become more one dimensional. Touches that would have gone to Andre Ellington will morph into Tajh Boyd launches into double coverage 20 yards down field.
Clemson will have enough pressure heading into this game, and having to answer early points will only add to that weight.
Don't Forget About Clemson's Other Reciever
What often happens is a Clemson opponent's defensive staff will put so much emphasis on trying to stop All-American Sammy Watkins, that it brushes off the other weapons, namely DeAndre Hopkins.
In Watkins' two-game absence this year, Hopkins rose to the occasion, scoring four touchdowns, including the decisive grab over Auburn in the opener. A defense won't be able to guard against all of Clemson's dangerous personnel, but they can't completely overlook a guy like Hopkins either.