Florida State has allowed 25 points in its past two games entering Saturday’s showdown with Clemson. That comes after teams averaged 45 points in the previous three games against the Seminoles.
Part of that is likely because of the level of competition as FSU has gone from Louisville, USF and North Carolina to Miami and Wake Forest, but Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said FSU has also simplified its defense.
“Early in the season they were a heavy pressure team. They did some different things and exotic things on third down,” Elliott said. “Now you see them playing a lot more base. … kind of allowing their athletes to go out and play.”
Tigers running back Wayne Gallman agreed Florida State looks different on film as of late, but he’s noticed something else as the key.
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“The heart with which they play the game,” Gallman said. “The last three weeks, I can tell they’re coming out ready to play and fight and play the game.”
The last time Clemson played at FSU, the Tigers lost 23-17 in overtime despite the Seminoles playing without star quarterback Jameis Winston.
Clemson outgained FSU by 90 yards, but blew a 7-point lead. The Tigers missed two field goals, including a 40-yard attempt after a bad snap over Deshaun Watson’s head went for a loss of 23 yards on second-and-goal from the FSU 1.
The Tigers were in the red zone in the final minute of regulation and were stuffed on fourth-and-1 in overtime.
“We should have won,” Watson said Monday. “We had so many opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. We played very well, and we just kind of fell short. … It was a great learning lesson for the whole team, and especially the young guys that got to play.”
LOOKING THE PART
Elliott said Florida State’s defense stands out physically on film, adding the Seminoles are always going to have some of the best in the country at every position.
FSU’s recruiting class has been ranked in the top 5 by the 247Sports Composite rankings each of the past three years. Alabama is the only other team that can make that claim.
“I don’t think we’ve seen two linebackers with the length and athleticism that they have at linebacker,” Elliott said. “Their defensive ends are two of the best in the country. Those two big guys inside are probably the two best interior defensive linemen that we’ve seen to date.”
Florida State’s defense is led by defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who has 10 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles through seven games.