Dabo Swinney is warning fans not to look at Florida State’s record and instead pay attention to its players when the second-ranked Tigers take on the Seminoles Saturday at noon in Tallahassee, Fla.
“They are still Florida State,” Clemson’s head coach said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.
The Seminoles enter Saturday’s game with a 4-3 record and are just 2-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson on the other hand is 7-0 and on top of the Atlantic Division with a 4-0 record. The two teams are just two years removed from a classic down at Doak Campbell Stadium that allowed Clemson to eventually win the Atlantic Division, the ACC and eventually the national championship.
Florida State finished that year 10-3, including an Orange Bowl win over Michigan.
However, things went south in 2017. The Seminoles got off to a bad start with a loss to Alabama where they lost quarterback Deondre Francois for the year with a knee injury. Then head coach Jimbo Fisher and the administration got in a disagreement about the future of the program which eventually led to Fisher jumping to Texas A&M.
With all the turmoil, the ‘Noles finished last season with a 7-6 record and expectations were for a better year under new head coach Willie Taggart. However, the ‘Noles stumbled coming out of the box and lost two of their first three games of the year and were nearly knocked off by FCS foe Samford in Week 2.
The Seminoles wins this year have come against Samford, Northern Illinois, Louisville and Wake Forest with losses to Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Miami. They have won three of their last four games with the one loss being a one-point defeat to the Hurricanes.
“They kind of got off to a slow start,” Swinney said. “New coach, new system, new everything, and I think it took them a couple of games to kind of figure it out a little bit of who they are and get in stride a little bit.
“They really should have won four in a row, but they’re 3-1 the last four games and are really starting to play some good football.”
Florida State is coming off a 38-10 win over Wake Forest this past Saturday where the offense finally showed some promise. Deondre Francois leads the ACC in total passing yards (1,847) and has 13 touchdowns, which is second in the ACC.
The Seminoles are fourth in the ACC in passing offense at 264.0 yards per game.
“Francois is a good thrower and he is mobile,” Swinney said. “They have figured some things out up front in the offensive line as far as getting guys in the right place. That was an area for them early that they were trying to figure out.”
The Seminoles are not trying to figure out anything on the defensive line. They lead the ACC in run defense (103.7 yds/game) and are tied with Boston College and Miami with the conference lead in sacks with 25.
Defensive end Brian Burns leads the ACC and is second in the country with nine sacks and is third in the conference in tackles for loss with 11.5.
“They are typical Florida State,” Swinney said. “They definitely have the best ends we have seen. They are really, really good. (Burns) is second in the country in sacks. He is long, fast and twitchy. They have really good depth at defensive end and defensive tackle and they play them.”