The Florida State Seminoles lost their second consecutive game after falling to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. In the 35-30 defeat, there were obviously some lackluster performances for Florida State, but there were some bright spots as well.
With this in mind, I have chosen my winners and losers from the Seminoles' latest setback. I am defining my winners as the factors that kept FSU in the game and my losers as the reasons they ultimately lost.
There is no way around it; Florida State is a terrible running team. The Seminoles rank 113th in the country averaging just under 80 yards rushing per game. Against Clemson, Florida State failed to crack 30 yards rushing in a game for the second straight week.
The 'Noles complete lack of a ground game puts extra pressure on their passing game because Florida State cannot keep opposing defenses honest at all. I understand that against Clemson the Seminoles were playing from behind and therefore felt like they had to throw to get back into the game, but that's no excuse for such a pathetic performance.
Even taking the context of the game into account, Florida State has to do better than 1.9 yards per carry over the course of an entire game.
After putting the clamps on the potent Oklahoma Sooners' offense in their previous game, Florida State's defense pretty much just opened the flood gates against Clemson. The Tigers racked up over 450 yards of total offense on a unit that allowed just 310 yards of offense to Oklahoma.
Maybe someone forgot to tell the Seminoles' defense that they had a game this week, or maybe the FSU defenders just felt they deserved a week off after their performance against Oklahoma. Either way, one thing is for sure; Florida State's D did not show up on Saturday.
I like Jimbo Fisher and I think he has Florida State on the right track. That being said, I have some genuine concerns about the way his team looked against Clemson and I think some of the blame has to fall on the head coach.
First of all, the Seminoles got absolutely destroyed on penalties against the Tigers. FSU got flagged 11 times for a ridiculous 124 yards. To me, that is a result of a lack of discipline and mental toughness and I believe responsibility for those issues have to fall on the coaching staff.
My other main concern was Florida State's complete abandonment of the running game. I know that it was difficult to get anything going on the ground, but 15 rushing attempts compared to 38 passing is just absurd.
I'm not one of those old school guys who is allergic to the forward pass, but I do believe there is something to be said for offensive balance. In addition, it may have been nice to try and take a little bit of pressure off of a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first career start by running the ball a little. Maybe that's just me though.
Little, if any, blame for Florida State's loss to Clemson can fall on the shoulders of quarterback Clint Trickett. The redshirt freshman who was forced into action due to an injury to starter E.J. Manuel performed as well as anyone could have hoped and gave the 'Noles every chance to win the game.
In his first career start, Trickett completed 24 of 38 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns. He did also throw an interception but I think just about any signal-caller would take that stat line any day.
I don't think E.J. Manuel is in any danger of losing his job, but he better get healthy quickly just to avoid the start of a quarterback controversy.
Sometimes over the course of a football game, something happens that is much more important than the game itself. That is why Kenny Shaw is a winner for his role in Florida State's loss against Clemson.
If you remember, in the Seminoles' game against Oklahoma, Kenny Shaw was involved in a horrific collision that briefly led me to believe that he may have been paralyzed. It turns out Shaw was knocked unconscious but aside from that he was just fine.
After receiving medical clearance, the fact that Kenny Shaw even played against Clemson was enough to make him a winner in my book. That wasn't enough for Shaw though; he went ahead and caught a touchdown pass in his return to action against the Tigers.
Saturday may have marked a devastating loss for the Florida State Seminoles, but it marked a great victory for Kenny Shaw.