Thursday, November 11, 2010

Clemson vs. Florida State - By The Numbers

Florida State sits at 6-3 (4-2) record on the season, but are looking to rebound from two heartbreaking ACC losses in a row.

The Seminole offense has transformed from a more pass heavy offense last season to an offense that is more dependent on the run. The offense in turn is averaging almost 50 more yards on the ground and 50 less yards through the air compared to last season. This is no surprise as the inconsistency of the wide receivers coupled with a veteran offensive line has Head Coach, Jimbo Fisher, playing to his strengths and away from his weaknesses. The bad news (or perhaps the good news from some Seminole Fans perspective) is quarterback, Christian Ponder, has an injured elbow and is not expected to play on Saturday. EJ Manuel is expected to start in place of Ponder. Manuel filled in for Ponder last year after DeAndre McDaniel’s hit sidelined Ponder and played pretty well. Manuel showed solid accuracy throwing the football along with plus running skills, but did have a tendency to throw interceptions. Manuel is definitely a capable back-up and isn’t a big step down from Ponder, especially an injured Ponder.


Florida State20092010NET +/-'10 NCAA Rank10' ACC Rank
Rushing Offense149.54196.5447.00248
Passing Offense271.85214.00-57.85651
Total Offense421.38410.5444.79411
Scoring Offense30.0833.673.59272
TOP30:4630:11-0:35575
TO Per Game2.001.78.22


The Tigers looked a little better offensively last week against NC State. The game plan and was better. The short throws were able to pick-up yards consistently and allowed Parker to get into a better rhythm. The offense was less predictable than in previous weeks and managed to control the clock and keep NCSU potent offense off the field. Despite a number of positives the offense still was far from being great. They only put up 14 points on TD drives of 21 and 39 yards and less than 300 yards of offense against a defense that is pretty average. Lots of sloppiness with the football including five fumbles and a terrible interception.

Starting tailback and ACC Player of the Year candidate, Andre Ellington, is out again this week. Jaron Brown one of the Tiger's two primary WR is questionable. Jamie Harper will get the bulk of the carries and Rod McDowell will provide relief in place of Ellington.

The offense has to play better this week against a defense that is one of the better units in the ACC. They simple can’t afford to cough up the football like they did against NCSU on Saturday.


Clemson20092010NET +/-'10 NCAA Rank10' ACC Rank
Rushing Offense170.36151.33-19.03647
Passing Offense192.00181.89-10.11878
Total Offense362.36333.22-29.14899
Scoring Offense31.1426.22-4.927010
TOP28:0428:320:289110
TO Per Game1.711.56-0.15


The Seminole defense is playing much better this year after looking completely lost last season. The Noles are allowing over 10 fewer points and over a 100 fewer yards this season and the biggest reason for the improvement is switch from Mickey Andrew’s stale man-to-man cover 2 to a more dynamic multiple formations primarily zone coverage attack under Mark Stoops. They have really squelched the opposing teams running attacks, but have struggled on occasion putting the clamps on opponents passing game. No better example than last week when FSU limited UNC to 34 yards on the ground only to give up 439 through the air.

FSU’s defense definitely matches up well with Clemson’s offense who passing game has been weak all season.


Florida State20092010NET +/-'10 NCAA Rank10' ACC Rank
Rushing Defense204.62106.33-98.29122
Passing Defense230.00226.67-3.337811
Total Defense434.62333.00-101.62313
Scoring Defense30.0019.78-10.22273
TO Per Game2.081.33-0.75


The Tigers continued to trend in the right direction after their best overall defensive performance against NC State.  The Tiger’s  limited the State offense to only 13 points despite being put in a number of tough situation due to turnovers.  They completely shut down the run and limited the Pack’s passing game.  The Tiger’s didn’t give up a single big play in the passing game, which was an area the Tigers struggled in earlier this year.  Da’Quan Bowers was a beast notching two sacks bringing his season total to 12.5.   The defense has been the most consistent unit on the team and has been playing at a high level the last few weeks.  In order for Clemson to have a chance this week this unit is going to have to play another game like last weekend.

Clemson20092010NET +/-'10 NCAA Rank10' ACC Rank
Rushing Defense151.50148.22-3.38586
Passing Defense162.79190.7827.22285
Total Defense314.29339.0024.71354
Scoring Defense20.4317.56-2.87121
TO Per Game2.141.77-0.37



Positional Breakdown

Offense
QB – Push
RB – Advantage FSU (with Ellington on the shelf)
WR – Push (Neither unit is any good really)
OL – Advantage FSU

Defense
DL – Advantage Clemson
LB – Advantage FSU
DB – Advantage Clemson

Special Teams - FSU

This is a huge game for both programs. The loser will be eliminated from contention in the ACC Atlantic Division, which would definitely be considered a disappointing season for both programs. Swinney has a chance to really quiet some of the fans with a big win on the road and reverse The Curse Of The Road Rock.

On paper, FSU is the better team right now especially with Ellington out. The fact the Clemson has played poorly on the road is not encouraging news for the Tigers. On the other hand, FSU has had a couple of heartbreaking defeats the last couple of weeks so the potential is there for the Noles to come out a bit flat. Manuel likely making his first start of the year also works in the Tiger's favor.

Ultimately, I can't see Clemson mustering enough offense against a solid FSU defense, so it will take a killer defensive performance for the Tiger's to pull off the upset. I do think the defense will continue their run of strong play, but it will not be enough to overcome the lack of offense again.

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