Monday Morning Quarterback
Here is a warning for any team out there that wants to start something with Clemson … don’t poke the bear. Or in this case the Tiger.
Every time an opponent has attempted to intimidate the Tigers with a little pushing or shoving or smack talk before or during a game since 2015, it has resulted in a beatdown. Sometimes, it has occurred in record fashion.
Florida State is the latest victim.
Clemson was already in front 14-0 this past Saturday when the Seminoles got under their skin. The Tigers were going to win the game, there was very little doubt at that time, but I don’t know if they would have beat the ‘Noles in the record fashion they did had Florida State not messed with quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Following Tre Lamar’s 43-yard interception return to the Florida State 30-yard line with 4:52 left in the second quarter, Lawrence kept the ball on a read-option and went around the right side for a 6-yard gain. Everything seemed pretty cut and try until Seminoles’ reserve free safety Hamsah Nasirildeen literally tried to take Lawrence’s head off.
However, what nearly cleared the Clemson bench was the extra little shot Nasirildeen added at the end of the play. With Lawrence still on the ground, the FSU safety took a second punch to Lawrence while the quarterback was on the ground. That, added on to the fact Nasirildeen targeted Lawrence with the crown of his helmet, infuriated his teammates.
Nasirildeen was ejected from the game for targeting, but that did not matter. The Tigers were mad and Nasirildeen’s teammates were about to feel their wrath.
It was obvious by the way Lawrence clapped in celebration after referee Stuart Mullins ejected Nasirildeen from the game that Clemson was going to add some extra juice to what was already going to be a victory. The Tigers concluded that drive with a Christian Wilkins’ one-yard touchdown run from the “The Fridge Package.”
Just before the half, Garrett Williams, whose father, Dayne, played for FSU from 1986-’89, scored his first career touchdown on a belly-series play head coach Dabo Swinney and the coaches worked on during the week. Williams dad scored most of his 24 career touchdowns at FSU the same way.
In the third quarter, on the Tigers’ second play of the half, Lawrence found Amari Rodgers for a 58-yard touchdown pass for a 35-0 lead at the time. Following a 24-yard field goal by B.T. Potter, Lawrence found Rodgers again streaking down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown.
The second Lawrence-to-Rodgers’ connection gave the Tigers a 45-0 lead. However, the Tigers did not back off. While FSU added a couple of more personal foul penalties and had two more players ejected from the game, Clemson added two more touchdowns—and nearly a third—to finish off a 59-10 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The 49-point loss tied for the Seminoles’ worst loss in the program’s history. It was the worst defeat it had ever received in Tallahassee and the 59 points were the most scored on FSU in a home game.
The Seminoles finished the game with minus-21 yards, the fewest rushing yards allowed by a Clemson defense in an ACC game and the second fewest all-time. It was a beatdown.
Miami tried the same tactic prior to the game at the Hard Rock Café Stadium in Miami, Fla., back in 2015. The end result that afternoon was a 58-0 Clemson victory … the Hurricanes’ worse loss in school history.
Later that season, at the same stadium in Miami, Oklahoma made the Tigers mad during a team luncheon the day before the 2016 Orange Bowl. Clemson won that game by 20 points.
In 2016, a couple of South Carolina players tried to get into it with a few Tigers during walk throughs prior to the game that night in Death Valley. Clemson won that game by 49 points, the largest margin of victory by an ACC team over an SEC team in history.
Even in last week’s game against NC State, the Wolfpack said a couple of things that were reported by the media in the week leading up to the game. After Clemson’s 41-7 victory at Death Valley, the players admitted they were fired up by what they had saw and they did their talking out on the field.
So here is a public service message to the remaining four opponents on Clemson’s regular-season schedule—Louisville, Boston College, Duke and South Carolina—and whomever it plays in the postseason. Don’t poke the Tigers. If you do, you’re probably going to be beat in a record-like fashion.