CLEMSON — The Florida State Seminoles have been known traditionally for a high-powered offense that featured speed at the wide receiver position, bruising running backs, talented quarterbacks and an offensive line with NFL talent.
This season is no different, as the Seminoles have talent at every position.
In fact, earlier this season against Boston College, the Seminoles played 32 players that were former four or five-star recruits. But those recruits have not played up to their potential through the season, ranking 119th nationally in scoring offense (18.6 points per game), 90th in rushing offense (157 yards per game), 92nd in passing offense (192.8 yards per game) and 36th in total offense (361.8 yards per game).
But the mission for the Tigers this week is to look past the numbers and the records and see the talent that is on the opposite sideline.
“I don't think we've ever beaten them in recruiting. They're No. 1 or No. 2 every year in recruiting,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “They're big, strong and athletic with a lot of speed. They're huge on the perimeter. Their quarterback has gotten better. He's very talented. He can throw it down the field. They do a great job of formation with their max protections.
“They want to run the ball and we've got to be able to win that matchup. This Akers kid is a great back. (Nyqwan Murray), that receiver, he's a great player. They're physical across the board on offense. All you have to do is turn on the tape as a coach and you see a lot of things that will present a lot of problems.”
For the Tiger defense, the focus this week is playing a complete game that can clinch the Tigers’ third straight division title and a trip to Charlotte Dec. 2 for the ACC Championship Game.
But for the Tigers to accomplish that impressive feat, they understand that must first take care of a Seminole team that is playing not only to spoil the Tigers’ season, but to make a bowl game for the 36th consecutive season.
"We're not focused on their record just because we know we're going to get their best version of them,” linebacker Dorian O’Daniel said. “It comes down to us beating them to clinch the division and for them it comes down to them being bowl eligible. Just like N.C. State, they have a lot at stake going into it, as do we.
“So, us as players, we know how difficult that can be as a player. So, we know they're going to be fired up and it's Clemson-Florida State, just like any time we play Florida State--high-stakes, high-intensity, a lot of emotion, so we know what we're getting into."
The season began the downward spiral for the Seminoles in their opening game of the season, when their quarterback Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending injury to his patella in the fourth quarter of the Seminoles game against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"It's unfortunate for them. They still have good players across the board, but any time you’re starting quarterback goes down, I feel like it's kind of hard to rebound and make a run,” O’Daniel said. “A lot of their losses are on the last play, so it's not like they haven't been in close games with good team. So you have to take that into account, but for us, it's just preparing as if they're undefeated."