It was a good ole fashion butt kicking
Florida State embarrasses Tigers
By Will Vandervort
Okay? Who really saw this coming?
Sure, there was the chance Jameis Winston was the better quarterback and could out duel Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, but no one thought fifth-ranked Florida State would come into Death Valley and scalp the third-ranked Tigers the way they did Saturday night.
From the outset, the Seminoles proved they had the better team when linebacker Telvin Smith stripped tight end Stanton Seckinger after a nine-yard gain and defensive back Terrence Brook recovered it at the Clemson 34.
A couple of plays later, the Seminoles were in the end zone and though there was still 57 minutes and 22 seconds left in the game, it seemed as if the game was already over and as it turned out it was as FSU rolled to a 51-14 victory.
“This was very disappointing,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “When you’re going against a team as good as Florida State, you don’t have very much room for error. We fumbled in the beginning, had a busted play, fumbled again and before you know it, it’s 17-0.”
It was the Tigers’ worse loss at home since a 37-0 loss to Virginia Tech in 1998. The Seminoles’ 51 points were the most an opponent scored in the 71-year history of the stadium.
“As good as they are, we did not do anything to prove (we belong) or we could compete on that field,” Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “We absolutely did not play to any type of caliber that we are capable of and that is the most disappointing part because that is not us.
“That is just not us. We did not display the type of players we have. We did not display the type of team we have and that is the disappointing part about it. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but it is not whatever the point differential was.”
It was also the first time Florida State won in Death Valley since 2001. The Tigers had won five straight at home against the Seminoles and 13 straight against Atlantic Coast Conference foes before Saturday night.
All week long Saturday’s matchup of two top 5 teams playing a game at Memorial Stadium for the first time was dubbed the game of the year in the ACC and was supposed to be a battle of two national championship contenders. However, only one showed up.
“Florida State is a heck of a football team,” Swinney said. “I wish we had played better and that is no one’s fault but mine.”
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston proved indeed he was worthy of being a Heisman Candidate as he sliced up a Clemson defense that ranked 10th nationally in passing yards coming, but allowed with 444 yards and three touchdowns. He also had a four-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.
“He performed. He performed at a high level tonight,” Boyd said. “He was very confident when he stepped onto that field and props to that guy. He came in here and played at a high level.”
While the freshman was putting on a show Clemson’s fifth-year senior was having one of his worst games in a Clemson uniform. Tajh Boyd could do very little right. He threw two interceptions and his first quarter fumble was returned 37 yards for a touchdown by defensive Mario Edwards.
Boyd finished the night throwing for a season low 156 yards on 17 of 37 passing and was picked off twice.
“I did not perform the way I’m capable of performing,” he said. “It is my job to be a leader and it is my job to come out and perform highly and compete at the highest level, and I did not do it tonight. There were some things that happened early on that I wish I could have back, but again it just comes with it sometime and you just have to keep on working.”
But Clemson’s performance can’t just be blamed on Boyd. His wide receivers dropped passes throughout the night, a Florida State defense that had produced 10 sacks all year, lived in the Clemson backfield and had four sacks. The running game was non-existent. They turned the ball over four times.
The defense played just as bad. Missed tackles, missed assignments and poor judgment at times allowed the Seminoles to roll up 564 yards. The most embarrassing play came in the fourth quarter when Winston hit tight end Nick O’Leary, who had slipped behind the secondary for a 94-yard pass after the Tigers had the ‘Noles backed up against their own goal line.
“Tonight, they outplayed us,” defensive end Corey Crawford said. “It wasn’t really that they did anything different, they just executed their plan to win better than we did.”
Following a Roberto Aguayo 28-yard field goal, Florida State took a 17-0 lead with 3:07 left to play in the first quarter when defensive end Mario Edwards picked up a Boyd fumble and rumbled 37 yards for a touchdown. Safety Lamarcus Joyner forced the fumble when he came off the edge on a safety blitz.
Clemson was finally able to answer the Seminoles when Boyd led an 11-play, 65-yard drive that he capped with a three-yard touchdown to Watkins. The drive was kept alive when the Tigers Adam Humphries drew a pass interference penalty on a third down-and-10 play from the Clemson 49.
Boyd then converted another first down on third-and-seven moments later when he found Mike Williams wide open across the middle for an 18-yard gain to the FSU three. A play later, Boyd hit Watkins on a slant to get the Tigers on the board with 51 seconds to play in the quarter.
The Tigers had a couple of opportunities to get back in the game following the touchdown, but they wasted a Bashaud Breeland interception with no points and then after getting the ball at midfield they went backwards.
FSU stopped playing around after that as Winston hit Rashad Greene for 11 yards to move the ball out from deep in his own territory and then after a 12-yard pass to Kenny Shaw, he hit Greene again and this time the junior receiver made two Tigers miss on his way to a 72-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.
Aguayo added a 20-yard field with three seconds left in the half to give the Seminoles a 27-7 lead at the break.