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Scouting Report: Florida State – Clemson

Florida State QB Jameis Winston improved his Heisman chances with 4 total TD against Clemson.

Florida State QB Jameis Winston improved his Heisman chances with 4 total TD against Clemson.

By Dwayne Wilton

The marquee game of the week was the #5 ranked Florida State Seminoles traveling to Clemson, South Carolina to take on the #3 rated Clemson Tigers. On paper, the Tigers had a big advantage playing in Death Valley before their fan base. The Tigers have one of the country’s best pre game rituals, touching Howard’s Rock and running down the hill into the stadium. Many teams are intimidated by the ritual and are unable to keep up with the frenetic pace of the Clemson offense. With a freshman at QB, you would think Florida State might fall into that trap, but Jameis Winston is no typical freshman QB. Winston has a poised demeanor about him that many seniors do not have. The kid has ice water in his veins and his youthful exuberance is contagious. Despite his youth and only having a handful of starts under his belt, he is obviously the leader of this team. The series has in recent years been dominated by the home team. Since 2001, the home team is 10-1. Florida State had not won in Death Valley in 12 years.

Most people wanted to see the two quarterbacks duel against each other. Clemson senior QB Tajh Boyd is a possible first round pick next year in the 2014 NFL draft and he is also a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Winston burst onto the scene in his first collegiate game and he has dominated at a very young age. He is also a hot pick to contend for the Heisman.

The Seminoles seized the momentum on the first play of the game. Clemson sophomore tight end Stanton Seckinger fumbled the ball after making a catch and Florida State defensive back Lamarcus Joyner recovered at the Clemson 34 yard line. Three plays later, Winston hit sophomore receiver Kelvin Benjamin for a 22 yard score to put the Seminoles on top 7-0. The Seminole defense, which played well all night, stopped Clemson on their next possession and forced a punt. Winston drove his team 77 yards in 16 plays to cash in on a 28 yard field goal to increase their lead to 10-0. The drive was a balanced mix of 8 runs and 8 passes which kept the Clemson defense off balance. On Clemson’s next possession, Joyner sacked Boyd who fumbled the ball. Seminole junior defensive end Mario Edwards scooped up the ball and ran 37 yards for a touchdown. The Tigers had to be stunned. The first quarter was not even over and they were down 17-0. Boyd finally got the Tiger offense going and led them on an 11 play, 65 yard drive, capped off by a 3 yard pass from Boyd to junior receiver Sammy Watkins. The score cut the Florida State lead to 17-7.

On their first drive of the 2nd quarter, it looked like Florida State would score again. They drove the ball to the Clemson 34 yard line, but then Winston made his first mistake of the game. His pass was picked off by junior corner Bashaud Breeland and returned back to the Seminole 42 yard line. Clemson, however, was unable to capitalize on the turnover and had to punt the ball back to Florida State. After both teams traded punts, Winston struck again. He hit junior receiver Rashad Green for a 72 yard score to put the Seminoles up 24-7. On Clemson’s next possession, Lamarcus Joyner continued his assault on the Tiger offense. Joyner picked off Boyd in the red zone to stop a Clemson scoring threat. The Seminoles closed out the half with a 12 play drive that got them to the Clemson 6 yard line and they cashed in on a 24 yard field goal to put them up 27-7 at the half.

Florida State got the ball to start the half. A face mask penalty on the kickoff return gave them excellent field position at the Clemson 42 yard line. Winston completed a 27 yard pass to Benjamin and a 17 yard pass to Green for the score, extending their lead to 34-7. A 45 yard punt return by Clemson gave them the ball at the Florida State 40 yard line, but on 4th and 4 at the FSU 34 yard line, Boyd was intercepted by Seminole corner Ronald Darby to end the scoring threat. The Seminoles took over and a 27 yard pass from Winston to junior tight end Nick O’Leary put Florida State at the Clemson 6 yard line. Two plays later, Winston ran it in from 4 yards out to increase their lead to 41-7.

The Seminoles began the 4th quarter with a 7 play, 57 yard drive that ended with running back Devonta Freeman scoring from 2 yards out. The touchdown put the Seminoles up 48-7 with 12:17 left. On the Tigers next possession, they drove to the Florida State 1 yard line, but the Seminoles defense stepped up and kept the Tigers out of the end zone on 4th and goal. After stopping the Tigers at the 1 yard line, Winston connected with O’Leary for a 94 yard gain to the Clemson 5 yard line. O’Leary ran over several defenders on the play. The Tigers held and the Seminoles kicked a 20 yard field goal to extend the lead to 51-7. Clemson took over with 4:41 to play. They pulled all their starters and put in backup quarterback Cole Stoudt. Stoudt led his team down the field and scored on a 2 yard QB sneak with 0:13 seconds left to make the final score 51-14.

The Seminoles defense thoroughly dominated from the very start of the contest and kept Clemson out of sync. The pass rush was impressive and put pressure on Tajh Boyd all night. The secondary shut down the Clemson receivers and made plays to turn the ball over to their offense.

I can’t say enough about Jameis Winston. The kid brought his A game into one of the toughest environment’s in college football. He had a calm demeanor and it’s obvious this kid has fun playing the game. The Seminoles respond to him and there is no doubting his leadership. This win has vaulted him into the discussion for the Heisman trophy. If you compare his numbers to Johnny Manziel’s at the same point of the season, Winston has better numbers. The latest ESPN poll shows Winston #2 in the Heisman race. His 444 yards passing and 4 TD’s (3 passing, 1 rushing) will definitely help his case. Is it possible that a freshman could win the Heisman two years in a row?

The Florida State win was the most points ever scored by a visiting team at Death Valley and vaulted them to #2 in the first week of the BCS rankings. This Saturday they will host the NC State Wolfpack who comes into the game with a 3-3 record. They will now have to show they can handle success. In the past Florida State has lost to teams that they should not lose to after big wins. They will need to stay consistent and continue to win if they want a chance to play in the BCS Championship Game.

I have never seen Clemson look so out of sync. You have to give a ton of credit to the Florida State defense. Tajh Boyd had a 27-6 record coming into the game and he seldom loses at home. They have to be ready to put this game behind them. This Saturday they will travel to Maryland to play the Terrapins who have a 5-2 record. The Tigers should win, but they can’t have a hangover from this game and allow one loss to become two losses.

Here are my notes on the draft eligible players that played in the game. I will start with the winning team.

Florida State:

James Wilder Jr, RB, Jr: NFL bloodlines, son of former Bucs RB James Wilder. Gets tough inside yards. Lowers his shoulder and takes on defenders. Good short yardage and goal line back. Left with a concussion in the 1st half. 5 carries for 12 yards.

Devonta Freeman, RB, Jr: Slashing running style. Patient, follows his blockers. Able to get the tough yards. Determined runner. Good vision. Bounces off tacklers. 21 carries for 84 yards 1 TD. 1 catch for 11 yards.

Karlos Williams, RB, Jr: Former free safety. Powerful running style. Good speed. 3 carries for 19 yards.

Rashad Greene, WR, Jr: Good hands. Willing to go over the middle. Gets good yardage after the catch. Great speed. Has the ability to stretch defenses. Slips tackles. Good on screen passes. 8 catches for 146 yards 2 TD. Had a 72 yard touchdown catch.

Kenny Shaw, WR, Sr: Athletic. Catches the ball at its highest point. Goes over the middle. Smooth. 5 catches for 64 yards.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, RS Soph: Big body (6-5 234 pounds). Strong. Uses his body to his advantage. Great on jump balls. Great hands. Great body control and ball skills. 3 catches for 62 yards. Had a 22 yard touchdown and another catch of 27 yards.

Nick O’Leary, TE, Jr: Grandson of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus. Throwback to the old days of football. Tough. Able to move the chains on short and intermediate catches. Powerful after the catch. Willing to lower his shoulder and run over defenders. Good blocker. Had 5 catches for 161 yards. Had a 94 yard catch and run.

Cameron Erving, OT, Jr: Big and athletic. Does a good job protecting the blind side. Had a false start penalty.

Bryan Stork, C, Sr: Leader of the offensive line. Makes line calls.

Trey Jackson, G, Jr: Good movement skills. Able to get downfield in the screen game. Pulls and leads sweeps well. Threw a key block on a screen pass that went for a TD.

Mario Edwards, DE, Jr: Good size and power. Able to play the run and rush the passer. 2 tackles. Had a 37 yard scoop and score TD. Offside penalty.

Christian Jones, DE, Jr: Versatile. Disruptive. Former outside linebacker. Moved to defensive end this year to improve the front four. Still getting used to the position. 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 QB hurry.

Telvin Smith, ILB, Sr: Good in pass coverage. Small, fast and tough. Willing to take on ball carriers at the point of attack. Stops ball carriers in their tracks. 11 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass breakup. Had a big 4th down stop in the red zone.

Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Sr: Had a big game. Able to play corner or safety. Doesn’t have great size. Plays all over the field. Smart. Defensive leader. Great blitzer. Able to cover slot receivers.  8 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 1 interception. Had a strip on the first play of the game to gain momentum. Had a sack/strip that was returned for a touchdown. Called for a pass interference penalty.

 

Clemson:

Tajh Boyd, QB, Sr: Good leadership skills. Has grown as a quarterback. 27-6 coming into this game. Big arm. Hurts you with his legs. Possibly his worst collegiate game. Completed 17/37 for 156 yards 1 TD and 2 INT. 14 carries for 8 yards and 1 fumble.

Roderick McDowell, RB, Sr: Good outlet receiver. Follows blockers. Didn’t get to make much of an impact in this game. 11 carries for 61 yards. 3 catches for 11 yards.

Adam Humphries, WR, Jr: Good slot receiver. Makes people miss after the catch. Able to return punts. 1 catch for 12 yards. Had a 45 yard punt return.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Jr: Moves around all over the field. Explosive. Quick stop/start move. Great hands. Adjusts to the ball in the air. Great body control and footwork. Able to return kicks. 8 catches for 68 yards and 1 TD. 1 carry for 3 yards.

Stanton Seckinger, TE, RS Soph: Struggled. Had a catch/fumble on the first play of the game that set up the Seminoles first TD. Had a dropped pass later in the game.

Vic Beasley, DE, Jr:  High school running back. Small (6-3 235 pounds), but quick and fast. Great speed. Creates havoc. Can play as a linebacker or defensive end. Can move around and exploit matchups. 2 tackles.

Grady Jarrett, NT, Jr: Strong and physical. Gets good inside push. 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 QB hurry.

Corey Crawford, DE, Jr: Versatile. Can rush the passer or drop into coverage. 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack and 2 pass breakups. One pass breakup in the red zone.

Stephone Anthony, LB, Jr: Active. Good at shooting the inside gap. Very good blitzer. 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack.

Spencer Shuey, LB, Sr: Leading tackler. Team leader. Always around the ball. 11 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.

Baushaud Breeland, CB, Jr: Physical. 3 tackles, 2 pass breakups, 1 interception returned 29 yards. Called for a pass interference penalty. Ejected from game for targeting.

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