Florida State head coach Willie Taggart said Monday his much-maligned offensive line will be no more tested this coming Saturday against second-ranked Clemson’s famous defensive line than they are going against their own in practice each day.
“For us it is not necessarily difficult to prepare because we have one of the top defensive lines in the country as well, so I think going against our guys daily helps our guys,” the Seminoles’ first-year head coach said. “So, from that standpoint, I don’t think it is as difficult.
Though that might be the case, it has not helped the Seminoles too much this season. Despite a new hurry-up offense and a defensive line that gives them good looks, FSU still ranks 11th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in sacks allowed with 18 and last in the conference in tackles allowed behind the line of scrimmage with 61.
The ’Noles (4-3, 2-3 ACC) are also rushing for an ACC worse 98.2 yards per game, which ranks 125 out of 130 FBS teams.
Clemson’s defensive line, aka “The Power Rangers,” is considered the best in the country. Led by 2017 All-Americans Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Austin Bryant, the Tigers rank third nationally in rushing yards allowed per attempt (2.6), fourth in tackles for loss (57), third in tackles for loss per game (9.6) and 14th in rushing defense (107.7 yds/game).
“Our guys are just as talented as their guys are, so it helps,” Taggart said. “We knew going in that was going to be a strength for us, our D-Line. So, our guys get some good competition daily going against those guys, so they will be prepared for them.”
The Tigers (7-0, 4-0 ACC) also have 21 sacks, which ranks 23rd nationally, but it can be a little misleading considering what is actually happening on the field. Clemson got consistent pressure on the quarterback and disrupted plays against Syracuse, Wake Forest and NC State the last three weeks, however, it recorded just five sacks in the three games combined.
Wake Forest also had minus-13 yards rushing while the Tigers built a 42-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Against NC State last week, the Wolfpack had just 42 yards on the ground with about five minutes to play in the third quarter as Clemson built a 31-0 lead.
The Tigers had 10 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against the Wolfpack, an offensive line that has allowed just three sacks all year.
In other words, no one has been able to run the football on Clemson when the games were still in doubt.
But, according to Taggart, his defensive line will have his offense ready to so when they kickoff against the Tigers this Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.