CLEMSON – Florida State showed the nation a formula to slow Sammy Watkins and the Clemson offense Saturday, holding the Tigers to their fewest yards (426) and yards per play (5.5) of the season. But does any other defense possess the personnel to effectively implement the blueprint and slow No. 17 Clemson (3-1, 0-1 ACC)? Clemson travels to Boston College (1-2, 0-1) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN2).
Florida State employed press coverage with its cornerbacks and often kept two safeties deep to serve as a safety net. Florida State was emboldened to try such an approach because the confidence it had in its talented defensive front to be able to control the run game.
Watkins was limited to 24 yards on six catches.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 237 yards on 36 passing attempts.
“I thought they beat us up,” Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. “They were extremely disruptive with Sammy, they were extremely physical with Sammy. Sammy spent some time on the ground . . . getting re-routed.”
Morris suspects other teams will now try to copy the plan but no other team on Clemson’s ACC schedule has physical corners and the defensive line talent Florida State possesses.
Playing press coverage without two-deep safety help is risky against Clemson’s receivers.
The ACC announced the Georgia Tech at Clemson game on Oct. 6 will begin at 3:30 p.m. and be televised on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Because of the strength and skill of Florida State’s defensive front, Clemson ran less pistol and power packages and opted for more misdirection Saturday night.
“We knew we were going to have to be creative,” Morris said, “. . . to try to slow down the linebacker play: stick their cleats in the ground, freeze their eyes and get the ball out on the edge. Get them flowing and them come back in the middle. I think you saw us do that. Sammy had a couple 12-, 13-yard runs inside the red zone. We were able to do that because of a lot of misdirection.”
Clemson defensive tackle DeShawn Williams: “We have to get some sacks. We need some sacks.”
Opponents have attempted 122 passes this season and Clemson has four sacks and 22 quarterback pressures.
Clemson defensive back Xavier Brewer on the biggest issues he’s seen on defense: “I don’t want to evaluate the whole defense but the biggest issue for me was missed tackles. I missed four and two resulted in big runs. That’s something that just can’t happen, especially in big games. If I want to be a leader on this team I’m going to have to lead by example.”
Tight end Eric MacLain has moved from tight end to offensive tackle. The 6-foot-5, 270 pound redshirt sophomore said he requested the move. He was rated as a four-star tight end. … Clemson players held a players-only meeting Monday. … The Clemson-Florida State telecast drew 4.36 million viewers on Saturday, trailing only the 6.02 million viewers who watched the Notre Dame-Michigan game.