Clemson hopes to do something Saturday night that they haven’t done all year. The Tigers hope to get their first road win of the year at Florida State.
What will it take for the Tigers to bring home a victory and make a strong push for the Atlantic Division title? TCI breaks down the keys for victory!
1. No Turnovers
This should be another close game where the Tigers have a chance to win the game in the second half. If the Tigers hope to bring home a victory they can not afford to turn the ball over on the road.
The Clemson defense has played well the past four games. Florida State is averaging over 34 points per game. The Tigers can’t afford to turn the ball over and give the Noles the short field. If the Tigers can make the Noles drive the length of the field to score the chances of victory will increase dramatically.
2. Redzone Efficiency
For the past few weeks the Tigers have struggled in the redzone. Missed field goals, turnovers, penalties and other mistakes have prevented the Tigers from putting points on the board. Clemson doesn’t have the big play ability with Andre Ellington sidelined with an injury so they will need to drive the ball methodically down the field. The Tigers can’t afford to have 10 plus play drives and come away with no points.
Chandler Catanzaro gets the start again at kicker. It will be critical for him to make the field goals if the Tigers need to try for three in the redzone. Catman has really struggles on the road this season, going back to the miss in overtime that gave Auburn the victory.
First downs are critical when the Tigers get in the redzone. In the past few weeks negative plays on first downs in the redzone have killed drives. The Tigers must execute on first down in the redzone in order to find the endzone.
Coach Napier talked this week about how the team needs to take their focus to another level when they get in the redzone. If they can do that Saturday night they can come home with their first road win of the year.
3. Dominate Performance from Offensive Line
No position will be more important Saturday night than the offensive line. The Noles lead the ACC in sacks and usually do it with their front four. The Tiger’s offensive line can’t afford some of the missed assignments they had against NC State that led to three sacks and helped stop the Tigers in the redzone.
The weakness of the Noles defense is the secondary. The Tigers will try to attack the Noles through the air, but the line must give Kyle time to go through his progressions and find the open receiver. The young and improving receivers still struggle at times to get open so it is critical that Kyle has time to find the open receiver.
The play of the offensive line will also be critical to the Tiger’s ability to run the ball. Don’t expect the Tigers to run for 150 yards against the Noles, but they will need to be effective enough in the run to have balance on offense.
4. Pressure from the Defense
The defense can create some turnovers Saturday night if they can put pressure on the Noles quarterback. Whether Christian Ponder plays for the Noles or sophomore E.J. Manuel gets the nod the Tigers will need to put pressure on the signal caller.
If Ponder plays he will not be 100 percent. Manual played well late last year, but hasn’t seen the field much in 2010. Pressure on the quarterback will be the biggest key to victory on defense this week. If the pressure is there the Tigers should get a few turnovers.
Bowers and the Tiger front four will play one of the top offensive lines they have played all year. Expect Bowers to continue to push for the all-time Clemson sack record. Is this the week where a Bowers sack leads to an important turnover? If so that could go a long way to helping the Tigers bring home the victory.