Tuesday, September 18, 2012

3 Keys for FSU (or 3 Things for Clemson to Stop)

Previously, we analyzed 5 keys for Clemson to leave Tally with a win. But the onus isn’t entirely on Clemson. FSU can’t just show up and walk away with the Atlantic Division trophy. They need to do a few things of their own Saturday night. Or better yet, there are a few things Clemson needs to prevent FSU from doing to keep FSU from winning.

So, here are 3 things FSU needs to do, or three things Clemson needs to keep them from doing, in order for FSU to win Saturday night:

Keep Doak Rockin’
There are two distinct advantages for FSU coming into Saturday night’s game: FSU’s defense and Doak Campbell. It will be up to Clemson to neutralize the former and FSU to maintain the latter. FSU doesn’t need help getting them started as they’ll have College Gameday followed by eight hours of buildup & PBR. But FSU will need to ensure they put a product on the field that maintains that intensity for all four quarters.

That means early success on defense and big plays on offense. FSU doesn’t need to score every possession, or keep Clemson from scoring, but they need to set tempo and make enough plays to keep the crowd alive.

It also means limiting big plays for Clemson, which is a quick crowd killer.
Stop the Run
One of the keys for Clemson was to establish the run. Clemson doesn’t need to rush for 200 yards to win, but they do need for the defense to respect Ellington, Boyd, & Watkins. And if Clemson can garner success running the ball, it opens up the rest of the offense.

FSU needs to stuff the run, keep Clemson behind the chains, and force them into obvious passing situations. FSU has one of the most talented and deepest defensive lines in the country. If they can be turned loose to rush Boyd, then Clemson will struggle moving the ball effectively. The quick pressure also keeps the deep routes out of play as they won’t have time to develop, and Clemson needs a deep ball or two to score points.

Be Smart Offensively
While Venables has experience preparing for FSU, he doesn’t have the horses to hold them in check for four quarters. But what he will try to do is force FSU to march the field and execute, rather than giving up big plays. History shows us Manuel is prone to a few bad decisions each game, which Clemson can capitalize on.

Clemson’s goal will be to frustrate Manuel by forcing him to use the check down and emergency receiver rather than stretching the field. If Manuel gets greedy or impatient, then Clemson can force a few turnovers and try to steal some cheap points. However, if FSU & Manuel are patient, there will be plenty of yards and points available; enough that if they play smart offensively, the other keys may not matter.

The other key for FSU to win is to stay healthy. Apparently, after cavorting around a few FSU message boards, Clemson only won last year’s game by sheer luck; luck that every starter was injured and the refs were auditioning for NFL replacement gigs.

But in all seriousness, FSU has the advantage and doesn’t need to bring their A-game to win. But anything less than a B-game will spell trouble. If FSU can achieve 1 or 2 of these keys, they should win. If they can’t, or if Clemson is able to keep these from occurring, then we’ll have one heck of a game on our hands.

Formal prediction to come…

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