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Game Preview: No. 5 FSU vs. No. 3 Clemson

Oct. 18, 2013

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INDIVIDUAL STATS COMPARISON

No. 5/5 Florida State Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Jameis Winston 73.2 288.2 17 2
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Devonta Freeman 54 385 77.0 3
Karlos Williams 28 248 48.8 6
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Kenny Shaw 23 466 93.2 3
Rashad Greene 23 407 81.4 5
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Telvin Smith 32 1.0 4.0 1
Lamarcus Joyner 25 2.0 2.0 0
 

No. 3/4 Clemson Tigers(6-0, 4-0 ACC)
Roster | Schedule | Stats | Game Notes
Head Coach: Dabo Swinney
Passing leader
Player Pct Avg/gm TD Int
Tajh Boyd 66.5 297.2 15 2
Rushing leaders
Player Att Yds Avg/gm TD
Roderick McDowell 78 385 64.2 0
Tajh Boyd 66 187 31.2 5
Receiving leaders
Player Rec Yds Avg/gm TD
Sammy Watkins 36 582 97.0 4
Adam Humphries 24 319 53.2 2
Defensive leaders
Player Tkls Scks TFL INT
Stephone Anthony 65 3.0 7.5 0
Spencer Shuey 57 0.0 3.0 0

#FSUvsCLEM infographic

FSU-Clemson.jpeg

Brandon Mellor Brandon Mellor
Seminoles.com Managing Editor
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Key players: Offense

Florida State

5 Jameis Winston

In his most daunting task to date, Winston is not only trying to become the first FSU freshman quarterback to win at Death Valley since Chris Rix did so in 2001, he's trying to be the first 'Noles signal caller of any age to accomplish such a task since that 41-27 FSU triumph 12 seasons ago.

To end Florida State's five-game streak of losses at Clemson, Winston has to maintain the same superstar-level of play that has defined the first five games of his career. He has to make the tough throws, avoid pressure and most importantly take care of the football against a Tigers defense that is much better than the one that gave up 49 points by the Seminoles in FSU's home victory in this series last year.

"We're on a mission," Winston said. "Our goal is to win. And that's our goal to win every single week. I think it's easy to block out that stuff when you have the same mindset every week and you don't look at it as a different game. Of course we know this is going to be one of the better teams we play all year, probably be the best team we play. People are talking about a National Championship type game, that's a great team.

"We have to give them the upmost respect and hopefully they respect us enough so we know it's going to be a battle out there."

 
Clemson

10 Tajh Boyd

Tom Savage (Pittsburgh), Chase Rettig (Boston College) and C.J. Brown (Maryland) are good, but there's no question that Boyd is the best quarterback the 'Noles have -- and poteintally will -- play this season.

A legitimate Heisman contender, the redshirt senior is poised, experienced and can you beat you with his arm or his legs.

Boyd enters Saturday's showdown with a career 27-6 record as the Tigers' starter and is currently eighth nationally in passing efficiency. He's also ninth in the nation in touchdown passes with 15 and 12th nationally in total offense per game with a 328.3 yards-per-contest average.

"His consistency; that's the thing we all get bored with," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That's what you don't want to write about. You want to write about something spectacular. Great players are consistent in how they perform - his decision making, his athleticism, his arm, all those are great attributes but what makes a great player is he does it every week. He's consistent in his performances.

"To me that's key to any great player is consistency and performance over any long period of time and he's definitely done that."

Key players: Defense

Florida State

20 Lamarcus Joyner

Joyner shut down Maryland star Stefon Diggs two weeks ago and now his focus shifts to Clemson superstar Sammy Watkins, who is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in not just the ACC but in the entire country.

Joyner's experience, toughness and ability to play all over the field will be critical to the 'Noles' defensive success as he covers Watkins and helps stop a Tigers offense that is one of the nation's best with an average of 516 yards produced per game.

"That's the tough thing about this team," Joyner said. "They can line up and punch you in the mouth, they can out-think you and out-smart you. You just have to believe in the game plan you go into the game with and hope and pray that that's the best thing for that team because they have a lot of weapons.

"They can beat you mentally and not only physically. It's a big one and you have to embrace this challenge."

 
Clemson

3 Vic Beasley

Florida State left tackle Cameron Erving is going to have his hands full Saturday night against Beasley, who is one of the top pass rushers in all of college football.

Beasley comes into the game tied for third in teh country in tackles for loss.

"One, he's very athletic," Fisher said. "He's extremely quick off the ball. He's agile. What he's learned to do is you see that guys is very comfortable in that position. He's able to transition speed into power as he uses that athleticism on the edge and it gets you going or it can translate into power if you learn on him, he can spin move on you. He's up and under all the time. You can see his knowledge of the position just growing each time he plays. He has all of the attributes - he's has the length and can get his hands on you.

"He has burst. He has athleticism. He can bend his lower body. Can change direction. He's one of those typical great pass rushers."

Four Downs: Key questions for FSU vs. Clemson

1. What effect will the crowd noise have?

Winston and the 'Noles say they are ready for the Clemson crowd noise.

There are few places in all of college football more difficult to play than Death Valley and with ESPN's College Gameday set to be there the atmosphere for this top-five showdown with national championship and Heisman Trophy implications is sure to be nothing short of incredible.

Death Valley is always loud but considering these additional factors, crowd noise is a legitimate concern for the visiting 'Noles as they aim to get back to winning ways in road games at Clemson. All week throughout practice -- as they do before every away game -- the Seminoles have been practicing with crowd noise blasted through the loud speakers.

Despite the looming task, though, FSU's playersdon't seem to be overly concerned with the role that Clemson's crowd will have on the game.

"All the noise stuff, the way we communicate on the field and the way we do things, I don't really think that's going to be a big factor," Winston said. "Momentum, from the momentum standpoint, if the crowd gets into it and their players start getting amped up, that will probably be a big factor in the game, but the noise I don't think has nothing to do with our offense."

2. Can the 'Noles win this one on the ground?

Freeman leads FSU in rushing throgh five games.

The FSU-Clemson narrative is dominated by the Winston vs. Boyd angle, and while FSU's quarterback needs to have a good game for the 'Noles to be in position to win, it's Florida State's running game that could have the biggest impact.

Devonta Freeman, James Wilder, Jr. and Karlos Williams have the poteintal to not only take the crowd out of the ballgame by moving the chains on the ground, they also have the ability to neutralize the Tigers' terrific pass rush. If the Seminoles can generate consistent yards on the ground, Clemson won't be able to pin its ears back and relentlessly pressure Winston.

An efficient ground game also helps set up the play action and Winston's season-long ability to find Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw and Rashad Greene could become even more potent against a Clemson secondary that has struggled at times in 2013.

3. Can FSU shut down Sammy Watkins?

Joyner will likely draw the task of mirroring Watkins all night.

As one of the top pass catchers in college football and probably first-round draft selection in 2014 should he choose to leave school a year early, Watkins is a true gamebreaker -- and a true threat the 'Noles have to be aware of late Saturday night.

"He's a rare talent guy," Joyner said. "You just have to know where he's at all the time on the football field. He's just one of those guys that you have to put him into the scouting report and you have to game plan against a guy like that."

The Seminoles did a good job of limiting Watkins in their victory last year when he caught just six passes for 24 yards. But Watkins wasn't 100 percent in that ballgame as he was suffering from a virus.

One year later, the Florida native is healthy and ready for redemption -- and the Seminoles are preparing for his best shot. In order to shut him down again, Joyner must mirror him at all times and fellow cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby must also be ready to man up should they be asked to do so. Safeties Jalen Ramsey and Terrance Brooks must also play disciplined football in the back end.

"He's tremendously athletic, (he's) big, strong and fast, but his ball skills and the way he reaches out and catches the ball, plucks the ball and then you can get it to him so many ways. You can hand it to him, you can throw it to him quickly or intermediately with great routes, or you can throw it deep. A lot of those guys don't have all the attributes to judge a ball in the deep part of the field or run by or be physical enough to go in the middle or be physical enough to line up in the backfield.

"He is 6'1, 205 pounds, but he plays bigger than that - very strong, very fast and just a complete player and if you watch him, he's very instinctive. It's natural for him to play football."

4. Will the Seminoles end the streak?

Fisher is looking for his first win at Clemson as FSU coach.

Since 2000, Florida State is just 1-8 against teams ranked inside the top three of the Associated Press Poll where Clemson is ranked this week.

In order to move to 2-8, the Seminoles need to exorise their Death Valley Demons in front of ABC's national audience. Since the Rix-lead 'Noles won in 2001, FSU has suffered successive 26-10, 35-14, 24-18, 40-24 and 35-30 defeats on Clemson's home turf.

A streak-busting win Saturday would not only put FSU back in the Death Valley win column, it would also propel Florida State to 6-0 record for the first time since the 1999 National Championship season.

 

FSU injury report

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