Clemson University

Smooth sailing sets up showdown with Seminoles

Clemson defensive end Andre Branch (40) knocks the helmet off Coastal Carolina quarterback Jamie Childers (7) during the 1st quarter Saturday, October 31, 2009 at Clemson's Memorial Stadium.
Clemson defensive end Andre Branch (40) knocks the helmet off Coastal Carolina quarterback Jamie Childers (7) during the 1st quarter Saturday, October 31, 2009 at Clemson's Memorial Stadium.


The game played out as expected.

The Tigers never broke a sweat, and Coastal Carolina never mounted a serious challenge. That's what is supposed to happen an ACC division co-leader plays a team that has a losing record in the Big South.

Clemson gladly will accept its third consecutive victory, however, even if the 49-3 rout of the FCS Chanticleers served as little more than a tuneup for an important conference contest against Florida State next week.

What do we know about the resurgent Tigers that we didn't know a week ago? Not much.

The Chants' offensive struggles, poor punting and multiple turnovers left Clemson with good field position all day, and the Tigers took advantage.

The succession of touchdowns made the Clemson fans happy, and Dabo Swinney got to clear his bench. Meanwhile, Coastal, which is in its seventh season of playing college football, enjoyed the opportunity to play one of the state's two big boys for the first time.

But past that, the game offered little on the excitement meter. The best part of the day came when the rain stopped and the sun finally broke through in the third quarter; coincidentally, at the same moment backup quarterback Willy Korn entered the game and led a quick touchdown drive.

But don't expect Korn to be on the field when the Seminoles come to Death Valley next week. Florida State has won consecutive conference games against North Carolina and N.C. State to reassert itself in the Atlantic Division race, and it's a good bet the Seminoles will cross midfield more than a few times - a feat Coastal was not able to manage until the fourth quarter on the way to its lone score.

So here's the tote sheet. Easy win, check. No key injuries, check. Backups play, check. But here's the question: Are the Tigers better prepared for the Seminoles?

Swinney believes so. "They did what they had to do and did what good teams do," he said.

He was more than happy to get a scheduling break between last week's big win over a ranked Miami team and the FSU game. That his starters didn't have to go full-bore for four quarters means they should be rested for the Seminoles.

Swinney believes Florida State will bring as good of an offense and quarterback as his team has seen this season.

"They have great players and a great staff that will be ready for the game," he said. "Our players know them well, and we lost to them last year, so this game next week will be big for both programs. We just need to get back to work, and hopefully we will play our best game next week."

Parker, who exited in the third quarter after helping his team build a 28-0 lead, understands the Tigers will need to be much sharper than they were against the Chanticleers.

"I wouldn't say it was too easy," Parker said. "We'll have to be better than today (though)."

The Clemson players are well-aware they haven't executed down the stretch in previous seasons, leaving them shy of the ACC championship game. They hope Saturday's warmup prepares them for the ACC homestretch: Florida State, at N.C. State and Virginia.

"That's what we're working on - finishing the job," safety DeAndre McDaniel said.

Swinney will not be able to hold his fire next week. The outcome was determined so early Saturday that Heisman hopeful C.J. Spiller got a mere five carries, one a 6-yard touchdown run.

But Swinney wanted no part in padding Spiller's stats against outmanned Coastal. He wants his best player to be ready for the games that count most.

"We're about the team," he said.

Next week he'll find out what his team is all about.

Related stories from The State in Columbia SC