The Florida State Seminoles suffered a heartbreaking loss against the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday night. To avoid that loss derailing their entire season, the 'Noles will have to bounce back against the Clemson Tigers on Saturday.
In order to open the ACC season with a win, Florida State will have to deal with factors such as the health of E.J. Manuel and a Clemson Tigers team riding high after a big win over the Auburn Tigers. Here are four keys to Florida State getting back on track against Clemson.
Florida State managed just 27 net rushing yards against the Oklahoma Sooners last weekend. The team ranks in the triple-digits in rushing yards for the season as they average less than 100 yards per game so far.
Clearly, Florida State needs to get its ground game going, but this will be especially true if starting quarterback E.J. Manuel is unable to play against the Clemson Tigers. The obvious reason is that without their starting quarterback, the Seminoles may have to rely more on their rushing attack. The less obvious reason is that E.J. Manuel is actually the leading rusher for the Seminoles as well.
With or without Manuel, Florida State's running backs need to step up and start shouldering more of the load on offense. The blame doesn't fall entirely on the running backs, though, as none of them have received more than 17 carries through three games. FSU's coaching staff needs to show a bigger commitment to running the football.
No matter who is playing quarterback for Florida State this week, the Seminoles need more out of that position than they got against Oklahoma.
E.J. Manuel and Clint Trickett combined to go 20-of-34 for 219 yards which is respectable, but the real problem was the fact that they threw three interceptions and just one touchdown. Furthermore, the Seminoles quarterbacks averaged just 6.4 yards per passing attempt, indicating they may not have been taking shots downfield as much as they needed to.
Getting more efficient play out of their quarterbacks will go a long way in helping Florida State take down Clemson.
Florida State got hit for six penalties totaling 57 yards in their loss to Oklahoma. While that is not an obscene amount, it seemed as though those penalties came at the most inopportune times.
One specific example occurred when quarterback E.J. Manuel was scrambling out of the pocket and ended up throwing a touchdown pass. However, the play was called back because of holding. On the replay, it appeared as though Manuel did not need the assistance of the hold to escape the pressure and make the play. The Seminoles did not end up scoring a touchdown on that possession.
Florida State also committed three turnovers. Between the untimely penalties and the three turnovers, the Seminoles may have been lucky the game was as close as it was. In order to rebound against the Clemson Tigers, FSU will have to play a cleaner football game.
While Florida State led the nation in sacks last season, they were only able to drop Landry Jones one time last weekend against Oklahoma. Although the Seminoles did get some other pressure on Jones causing an interception, getting a few more hits on the Sooner quarterback could have helped Florida State's cause.
I hate to put even the smallest amount of blame for the loss to Oklahoma on the defense since they played an overall stellar game, especially when compared to last year's performance against the Sooners.
However, for a team that makes a living getting to the quarterback, and has one of the nation's premier pass rushers in Brandon Jenkins, I have to think getting to Landry Jones a little more would have made a difference.