August 30, 2007

FSU-Clemson: Defense & Special Teams Breakdown

State-Clemson: Defense & Special Teams Breakdown

valign="middle"> Florida
State-Clemson, September 3rd, kickoff 8:00 p.m.
bgcolor="#A40000">Gene Williams

bgcolor="#FF8000">Cris Ard -

1. Will
the Seminole defense be able to hold down Clemson's
one-two punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller?
Will Clemson's defense still possess a stronghold on FSU?
Gene: Although C.J.
Spiller was a non-factor in Tallahassee last year, James
Davis, the other part of Clemson's dynamic duo, played a
huge role in helping the Tigers defeat Florida State

Last year as a junior, Davis racked up 141
all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns, including
the game-winning run with eight seconds left. Almost all
of those yards came on a 54-yard catch and run in the
third quarter, and on Clemson's final touchdown drive
against a worn down Seminole defense.

All the major contributors on FSU's defensive front
return from last season including all-ACC defensive
tackle Andre Fluellen. Easily the strongest part of the
Seminole defense is the interior of the defensive line.
As good as Fluellen has been, Letroy Guion and Budd
Thacker have been flat out dominating during two-a-days.
And Paul Griffin, who missed last year's game with a knee
injury, is back and will provide much needed depth.

With Clemson breaking in three new offensive lineman,
this matchup should be heavily in favor of FSU. The
'Noles formidable defensive front should make it hard for
Davis and Spiller to run between the tackles, and if they
head to the outside FSU's linebackers, led by junior Geno
Hayes, are as fast as anybody in college football.

Even with FSU's defensive prowess up front, it's hard
to believe that both Davis and Spiller will be totally
shut down. A few good runs are inevitable, but they
shouldn't be a major factor as long as the Seminole
defense avoids breakdowns that would allow a huge play.

Cris: Both defenses
are ahead of each offense entering the season, par for
the course for many teams across the country. For
Clemson's defense, it has not been kind to the Seminoles
under defensive coordinator Vic Koenning who is a perfect
2-0 versus FSU.

In fact versus Koenning, the Seminoles
amassed just 226 total yards of offense in 2005, and just
204 total net yards last season. Both instances the
Seminoles posted 102 rushing yards.

Over the last several years the FSU offensive front
has been limited due to injuries and coaching. That's not
the case in 2007. Three starters are back, and new
position coach Rick Trickett brings a highly respectable
rep to the table as one of the finest offensive front
teachers in all of college football.

Greg Carr, now a junior, is one of the conference's
most physically gifted wide receivers, and presents a
major match-up issue for Clemson's secondary. Junior
runner Antone Smith, the ACC's track champ, is one of the
fastest backs in the country, and finally trigger-man
Drew Weatherford has some seasoning, and will become a
better technician under offensive coordinator Jimbo

But projects Clemson's defense to
be better and push into the top ten this season after
finishing 13th nationally a year ago. It will again hold
the upper hand in this match-up, as FSU, under a new
coordinator, new terminology, and a new system, won't
find its rhythm in week one, and most especially in
arguably the loudest environment in the country.

Keep an eye on junior tackle Rashaad Jackson and his
battle versus red-shirt freshman center Ryan McMahon. It
promises to be equally as intriguing as Andre Fluellen's
correspondence with Clemson first-time sophomore center
starter Barry Humphries.

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