CLEMSON – Part of the reason Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables sat before reporters Tuesday to talk about a shaky defense traveling to No. 4 Florida State on Saturday and not former coordinator Kevin Steele, is Clemson’s inability to slow mobile quarterbacks over the last several seasons.
Florida State (3-0, 1-0 ACC) possesses the most physically imposing quarterback in the Atlantic Coast Conference in its 6-foot-5, 240-pound signal caller E.J. Manuel, who is built more like a defensive end than a quarterback.
After failing to use Manuel’s mobility fully in his first three seasons, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher is employing Manuel as more of a running threat this season, showcasing more quarterback option runs which have confounded No. 10 Clemson (3-0) the last several seasons.
Manuel already has 86 rushing yards on 13 carries this season, though he’s played only six quarters. Manuel rushed for 151 yards all of last season.
Said Coach Dabo Swinney: “the option is a concern.”
Brent Venables faced Florida State and Manuel each of the last two years with Oklahoma winning both meetings, including a, 23-13, win at Florida State last year.
Clemson hopes more zone concepts under Venables will slow the quarterback run game.
“If you don’t have some style of option involved ... it’s probably the exception anymore in this day and age with spread offenses,” Venables said. “That’s one more challenge they present… Guys like him, a guy like a Jake Locker or Vince Young, sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everyone. I don’t think we’ll have any problem not covering people, that’s a joke guys.”
Clemson ranks 84th in the country in rushing defense (180 yards per game).
Manuel also has an NFL-caliber arm and a fleet of speedy receivers to target.
Dabo said it: Swinney on being 14-point underdogs: “I know we are a big underdog going down there, but other than Alabama and LSU, who wouldn’t be? … If I was on the outside looking in I’d probably pick them, too. But I’m not on the outside. And I like what I see.”
In search of history: Clemson has never defeated a top-five ranked opponent on the road in its history. Clemson’s best road wins include defeating No. 8 Miami on the road in overtime, 40-37, in 2009 and winning at No. 8 North Carolina, 20-18, in 1981.
Extra points: Clemson is wishing its indoor practice facility was completed. Inclement weather forced Clemson to practice indoors at the cramped indoor track facility on Monday and possibly Tuesday as well. … Clemson is filtering in crowd noise at practice this week to simulate the environment it will encounter at Florida State. “I don’t know if they are Bose or Sony (speakers),” Clemson center Dalton Freeman said, “but they are blowing it up.”