Elliott likes the way they’re running the ball
As a little boy, Kelly Bryant can remember some of those classic Clemson-Florida State games. Since he really got into football, the Tigers and Seminoles have played pretty much for the ACC’s Atlantic Division Championship every year.
Though that might not be the case for the Seminoles on Saturday when the fourth-ranked Tigers host the ‘Noles in their ACC regular-season finale, it does not take away from the game at all.
FSU (3-5, 3-4 ACC) has struggled since it lost starting quarterback Deondre Francois at the start of the season. But head coach Jimbo Fisher is still trying to bring the team back together and get them bowl eligible. The Seminoles need to win three of their final four games to become bowl eligible.
“It’s Clemson-Florida State,” said Bryant. “It’s a rivalry with everybody on both sides. Whether you’re a Clemson or a Florida State fan, this is a game that a lot of people look at and also a game where we can clinch the division.”
With a win on Saturday, or if NC State should lose at Boston College, the Tigers (8-1, 6-1 ACC) can clinch their third straight Atlantic Division title and advance to next month’s ACC Championship Game. A win will also keep the streak alive where the winner of the Clemson-FSU game has played in the ACC Championship Game nine straight years.
Either Clemson or Florida State has won the ACC every year since 2011. Bryant expects the Valley to be rocking on Saturday because of what is at stake and just the fact it is Florida State.
“It’s going to be an environment where we’re at home. It’s good we get to play in front of our fans and have the opportunity to clinch it but it’s going to be a rivalry game,” he said. “Like I said, they are going to bring it despite whatever their record is. It’s going to be a hard-fought game.”
Elliott likes the way they’re running the ball. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott likes the way his offense is running the football right now.
Since Bryant came back from the Syracuse game, in which he was knocked out in the second quarter, the Tigers have rushed for 221 yards and 227 yards in back-to-back games.
Clemson has now rushed for 200 or more yards on five different occasions this season. However, despite this success, there are a lot of fans wondering why Bryant is getting the bulk of the carries and not running back Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne.
Both have the ability to take the ball to the house on every carry, like Feaster did at NC State this past Saturday when he went 89 yards up the middle untouched.
“In today’s day and age, with the way defenses are trying to play with tempo, you have to have the ability to have run-pass options,” Elliott said. “So there are a lot of called runs to the running back, but because of the structure, the ball gets thrown on the perimeter.
“Again, you have to do that because if not you’re just going to hand the ball off, and so you’re going to get more carries, but then they’re going to be going in loaded boxes so production isn’t going to be there. Anytime you can throw off of the run, keep them honest, and also have the ability for Kelly to be a part of that, I think it keeps people being honest. Now you can have some misdirection to keep them honest which gives us the favorable coverage to try and throw the ball down the field.”
Ferrell can’t believe the season is closing fast. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell talked about how crazy it was that the regular season is quickly coming to a close.
“It just shows how fast this season has gone by,” he said. “You really just have to hone in on the small things and take it day by day and really appreciate it. Coach (Dabo) Swinney made his word appreciate. Just appreciate, not only the games, and the big-time Saturdays, but appreciate coming out here and having a chance to practice and prepare with your teammates and have fun with your teammates the last couple of weeks before it is our last game of the year.”
Bryant isn’t surprised by Renfrow’s fourth down play. Bryant said Hunter Renfrow’s play on fourth down-and-five, where he willed himself to break a tackle and go 16 yards for a first down to set up the eventual game-winning touchdown, did not surprise him.
“It’s just Renfrow being Renfrow,” Bryant said. “Making plays. He’s just a really good route runner who can beat people when they try to play man and the zone coverage as well. He made a good move, got to the sticks, and also broke a tackle to get a few more yards. It just says what we have in that room. Guys like that, you just get them the ball and they will make plays.”