Clemson’s win over No. 22 Florida Sate in Doak Campbell Stadium last Saturday was just as mental as it was physical. While taking some big hits, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois and the rest of the Seminoles’ offensive was also trying to overcome the mental pressure the Clemson defense was bringing.
“That’s what we try to do. We try to get into people’s heads,” Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell said. “Trash talk is a big part of what we do. You can see the intensity that we play with. Every time before the ball is snapped we try to make a play,”
Right after Clemson took a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter, FSU moved the ball to the Tigers’ 34-yard line with under a minute to play, but back-to-back false starts pushed a rattled Florida State offense back to the 44, and then back-to-back sacks followed to quickly end their last rally to tie the game.
“You definitely could see that they were rattled and that’s one of the things with us. We were bringing the pressure all game. I feel they had a hard time dealing with it and that was one of the reasons why they were jumping,” Ferrell said. “They knew we were just trying to tee off at the quarterback at that point.
“That was the main thing. They were just trying to stop the pressure that we were bringing.”
Getting off the blocks and beating guys one-on-one, Clemson’s front seven refused to let up in an attempt to break the pocket down every chance they got. The Tigers pressured quarterback Deondre Francois throughout the game, while six sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
“The amount of pressure that the guys inside are giving us is just amazing. When you push the pocket like that it just demoralizes the whole thing of the pocket so it basically pushes the quarterback right back into the defensive ends hands. It’s just like playing Madden out there. It’s easy for us,” Ferrell said.
Back-to-back sacks by Dexter Lawrence and Christian Wilkins followed by another sack from linebacker Ben Boulware sealed the Tigers’ first win in Doak Campbell Stadium since 2006.
“That’s just natural within the defensive line. It is just kind of the mentality of who is going to make the next play, whose going to get to the quarterback, whose going to get the big hit” Ferrell said. “Hopefully, we have more than anybody else in the country as a team and as a defense. We just playing to win and the sacks will come.”