CLEMSON -- The Tigers are becoming masters of the turnaround.
Clemson's football team was 88th in the nation in offense last season. This year, Clemson ranks ninth.
Clemson has not led a single game at halftime yet enjoys a 3-0 record entering Saturday's 3:30 p.m. showdown on ESPN against No. 11 Florida State at Memorial Stadium.
Many wondered recently if Clemson, coming off a six-win season and struggling early in the year, had the confidence to knock off defending champion Auburn. After snapping Auburn's 17-game winning streak,
Clemson entered the Associated Press poll Sunday at No. 21 and Tigers coach Dabo Swinney was asked if he has to guard against his team becoming overconfident.
"I don't think it's hard when you have Florida State and looking at (their talent)," Swinney said. "Maybe if you are playing a nonconference team or something like that … but Florida State is a big rivalry game for us, a big game for our players. I don't think it will be hard at all."
On paper, the Seminoles (2-1) wouldn't seem to be a difficult opponent to get up for as Florida State was tabbed as the overwhelming preseason favorite in the ACC.
But FSU is coming off a loss to No. 1 Oklahoma in which starting quarterback E.J. Manuel left the game and was unable to return after an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Manuel was replaced by 6-2, 180-pound freshman Clint Trickett, who is not the dual-threat athlete that Manuel is. Trickett completed 7 of 15 passes for 135 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
"I'd be surprised if we don't see Manuel," Swinney said.
Despite coming off the third-highest yardage total in program history against Auburn (624 yards), Swinney said the Tigers left yards out of the field, missed opportunities the coaching can use to refocus the team in practice this week.
"We just have to keep improving each week," Swinney said, "and see what happens at end of the season."
Swinney said he is hopeful starting left guard David Smith (shoulder) and starting running back Andre Ellington (hamstring) will be able to play against Florida State. Swinney said Smith remains "more questionable" after undergoing shoulder surgery Thursday ... Ellington tweaked his hamstring in the second half versus Auburn … Freshman WR Charone Peake suffered an ACL sprain and is questionable ... WR/KR Joe Craig returns from his three-game suspension this week but Swinney said he will not practice Tuesday and Wednesday due to a family-related matter.
Watkins national freshman of week
Clemson freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins was named Rivals.com's National Freshman of the week Sunday for his performance against Auburn. Watkins caught 10 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson's 38-24 victory against Auburn.