Clemson University

Tigers ignore FSU's defensive stats

Dabo Swinney suggested lighting a fire and burning Florida State's defensive statistics in a trash can.

If perhaps anything should light the Tigers' fire, it should be how porous the Seminoles appear on paper, considering Clemson's track record against such apparent sieves.

"You have to throw that out the window," senior running back C.J. Spiller said. "When we played Kentucky (2006 Music City Bowl), I think they were the worst rush defense in the country. But they held two of the best running backs to a few yards."

Out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, FSU ranks No. 93 in scoring defense, No. 97 against the pass, No. 101 against the rush and No. 109 in total defense.

Only one FBS opponent has failed to notch at least 27 points against the Seminoles, who have surrendered yards by the acre; they have surrendered 49 plays of 20 yards or more in eight games, more than double that of Clemson's defense (23).

Such numbers have sometimes proven fool's gold for the Tigers the past few years.

Kentucky's defense was ranked second-to-last in the country in total yards allowed before the aforementioned Music City Bowl, yet Spiller and James Davis combined for 77 yards on 13 carries in a 28-20 defeat.

Last year, Maryland entered with the No. 109 pass defense, yet the Tigers scraped together 151 passing yards, allowing the Terps to clog the running game and steal a 20-17 comeback victory.

This year, Maryland was No. 103 in total defense and No. 110 in rush defense. Clemson's designated ball carriers tallied 101 yards on 26 carries (3.9 average) and the team managed 21 points in defeat.

Senior tight end Michael Palmer hopes the Tigers have learned their lesson.

"I don't think their stats are very good," Palmer said. "But that doesn't mean they're not capable."

Rallying cry. While lavishing FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews with praise, Swinney downplayed the impact that Andrews' retirement announcement Tuesday could have in rallying the Seminoles' beleaguered defense.

"I've experienced that as a player," said Swinney, who played receiver at Alabama. "My senior year, about 7 o'clock Friday night before we played Auburn, coach (Pat) Dye announced his retirement after many, many years. I'm sure it has some type of emotional effect. But the game's played by the players."

Injury updates. Palmer practiced with full contact Wednesday after sitting out last week with a concussion.

"That's the doctor's call to clear him" Swinney said. "He's done everything at practice, so, unless he has some setback between now and Saturday night, I expect him to play."

Meanwhile, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers (sprained MCL) played referee while attending practice in casual clothes. Swinney reiterated Bowers is expected to miss Saturday's game but possibly return next week.

FSU's defensive line could be buoyed by the return of senior tackle Budd Thacker, who has missed the past two games with a sprained MCL. Thacker has practiced this week.

Extra points. Clemson's tight ends have 34 catches, third-most by the position in a single season. They compiled 46 in 1970 and 39 in 1971. ... Swinney, on motivating players this week: "You don't have any problem getting them excited. This is one of them where they probably have a little more skip in their step just because it's a big-time divisional game. It's kind of like the playoffs - a lot riding on it." ... For the second consecutive week, it's a safety's turn to honor former teammate Stanley Hunter by wearing his No. 17 jersey. This time, it will be redshirt freshman starter Rashard Hall, a St. Augustine, Fla., native.

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