By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After a tough loss against #1 ranked Oklahoma last weekend, the Florida State Seminoles come to Death Valley in hopes that they can get back on track in their ACC opener against the Clemson Tigers.
The Seminoles started the day off on offense with freshman quarterback Clint Trickett under center, in for the injured EJ Manuel. FSU started off quickly with a great drive that ended in a Seminole field goal after Clemson’s defense stopped them on a critical 3rd and 3. The Seminoles take an early 3-0 lead with a 37 yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
When the Tigers took the field for the first time on offense, I could tell that the crowd noise was getting to Florida State’s defense a little bit. After an incomplete pass from Boyd, Clemson’s offense started rolling with first down catch from Nuk Hopkins, followed by a pass interference call against FSU and a 20 yard pick up by Watkins. The drive ended in a beautiful 24 TD pass from Boyd to Watkins to make the score 7-3 Tigers.
After the touchdown, Clemson’s defense came out swinging, putting pressure on Trickett and wrapping up well while tackling, forcing the Seminoles to punt the ball deep in their own territory.
The Tigers start their second drive on their own 23 yard line, and they began running the ball, something they haven’t been able to do well so far this season. After a penalty against Florida State as Dawson Zimmerman was punting the ball, Clemson’s offense got the ball back and made Florida State pay for their mistake. Right away, Boyd completed for a 50 yard pass to Nuk Hopkins which set up a one yard touchdown run for Boyd to make the score 14-3 Clemson.
When Clemson’s defense got back on the field, you could tell they had a purpose, to keep Florida State from scoring. Although they could not keep the Seminoles from scoring a touchdown, Clemson’s defense continued to keep pressure on Trickett, something they haven’t done well all season.
At the end of the first quarter, Clemson’s quarterback Tajh Boyd is 5-6 for 107 yards and a touchdown. He’s also improved on his running game, making some great decisions and keeping the ball when no one is open. Clemson freshman Martavis Bryant was also a big factor in this drive, as he caught a 33 yard bomb from Boyd to get the Tigers deep into Seminole territory. After an off sides call against the Tigers, Boyd was able to hit tight end Dwayne Allen for a 12 yard touchdown making the score 21-10 Clemson.
As soon as the Seminoles got the ball back, Clint Trickett’s pass was intercepted by linebacker Quandon Christian for his first career interception. Clemson’s offense starts on Florida State’s 20 yard line. Clemson could not convert on third down however and was forced to attempt a 35 yard field goal which was no good. The score remains 21-10 in favor of the Tigers with 9:38 to go before halftime.
For the first time this season, Clemson has come right out of the gate and has played so far a good two quarters of football, minus Catanzaro’s field goal miss.
In the Seminole’s next drive, injured receiver Kenny Shaw came into the game for the first time however even he couldn’t keep Clemson’s defense and the crowd noise at Death Valley from being a factor and Florida State was forced to punt the ball again. Clemson begins on the 22 yard line with 6:15 to play in the half.
Clemson wasn’t able to put anything together in their next drive, giving the ball back quickly to the Seminoles deep in their own territory. A huge hit on Trickett by linebacker Corico Hawkins however kept the Seminoles from getting into a rhythm and forced them to punt again.
Penalties and a sack on Boyd stalled Clemson’s next drive however as the Tiger’s punter Dawson Zimmerman went to punt, he was brutally hit by a Florida State defender and a flag was thrown for the second time today for hitting the kicker. Although the Tigers got the ball back, there was only time for one play before the clock ran out for halftime.
After two quarters of football, Tajh Boyd is 12-15 for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Coming into today’s game, Florida State has allowed on average 195 yards per game and going into halftime, the Tigers have 227 yards of total offense.
Clemson’s offense came out ready to go after half time, starting off on a good drive including a nice pass from Boyd to Watkins. However an interception by FSU’s Warner for a touchdown may be a game changer as it makes the score Clemson 21 FSU 17.
Although Clemson’s offense looked a little shaky to start the second half after the pick 6 by FSU, a pass interference call got Clemson into Seminole territory. At 4th and 4, Swinney intelligently called a time out; however a false start penalty on Clemson quickly turned the ball over to the Seminoles.
A critical stop by the Tigers kept the Seminoles out of field goal territory after a big drive. A shanked punt by Powell of the Seminoles gives Clemson the ball on the 30 yard line. A 19 yard run by Ellington gets the Tiger’s drive off to a good start however an incomplete pass to Jaron Brown keeps Clemson at 3rd and 9. A facemask penalty against the Seminoles gives Clemson both the ball and good field position in FSU’s territory. Sammy Watkins and Adam Humphries both made great plays in this critical drive for the Tigers that ended in a 1 yard touchdown run by Andre Ellington.
Penalties have hurt FSU so far today, as they have 9 penalties in three quarters for 104 yards. However, they’ve been able to convert on long third down conversions so far keeping them in the ball game. At the end of the third quarter, the Seminoles end at the Tigers 30 yard line. Trickett then quickly completed a 30 yard touchdown pass to Rashard Green; however the Seminoles failed on a two point conversion keeping the game 28-23 in favor of Clemson.
The Tigers wasted no time in making their lead a double digit one again, as Boyd connected with Sammy Watkins for a 62 yard touchdown making the score 35-23. After Clemson was able to stop the Seminoles again, the penalties continued to kill the Seminoles as they received another face mask penalty putting Clemson near FSU territory.
However Clemson was not able to convert on that drive and second string punter Spencer Benton had to punt the ball away. However, Benton’s punt sailed for 43 yards making the Seminoles start on the 22 yard line. The Seminoles then got on a roll, with a quarterback keeper and a 32 yard pass from Trickett to Greene. A roughing the passer penalty against the Tigers also helped in getting Florida State into Clemson territory. A touchdown pass to Kenny Shaw makes the game a close one yet again, 35-30 in favor of Clemson.
On Clemson’s next drive, a 34 yard gain by Dwayne Allen and a great run by Andre Ellington got Clemson into Seminole territory. Although the Tigers weren’t able to convert on a 4th and 1 and gave the ball back the Florida State, Clemson’s defense was able to hold the Seminoles late in the game, and sacked Trickett on the Nole’s offensive final play of the game.
On offense, Boyd ended the day completing 23 of 37 passes for 344 yards. The Tigers had 49 carries for 111 yards on the ground to make their total offensive plays and yards, 86 plays for 455 yards. The Tigers take their 4-0 record into a hostile Blacksburg environment next week to take on ACC Champions Virginia Tech.