'None of that matters' ... FSU not worried about past Clemson dominance
Mike Norvell knows the history.
He's well aware of the fact that Clemson owns the longest home winning streak in the country at 31 games, and no one needs to remind him that the Tigers have won six consecutive ACC championships -- clobbering Florida State several times along the way.
But in comments that struck a similar chord -- in message, though not volume -- to his impassioned speech after Florida State fell to 0-4 on the season, the second-year Seminoles head coach explained Monday that none of those prior results will have a bearing on his team's mindset this week.
"None of that stuff really matters to this team, other than the opportunity that, 'Are you gonna let that affect your performance this week?'" Norvell said. "Or, 'Are you going to prepare, are you going to do the things necessary to go put yourself in the best position to achieve success?' That's what we need. ...
"And I've got a great deal of confidence in this team."
The entire FSU program is benefitting from renewed confidence after winning its past three games.
Exactly one month ago, the Seminoles lost at home to Louisville to finish the month of September with a win, and there was real concern in the fan base that they might grab only a couple of victories the entire season.
Then came a hard-fought home win against Syracuse, followed by a stunning road win at 18-point favorite North Carolina. And on Saturday, the Seminoles improved to 3-4 with a blowout of an overmatched UMass team that couldn't mount much of a fight.
This week will be different.
Even though the Tigers are enduring a surprisingly challenging season, falling to 4-3 after Saturday's 27-17 loss at Pitt, they still boast one of the most talented rosters in college football. They have finished in the Top 10 of the national recruiting rankings each of the past four years.
So while FSU isn't dwelling on the past, the coaches and players clearly have a great deal of respect for what Dabo Swinney's program has accomplished.
"This opponent that we're playing, it has been the standard in the league," Norvell said. "How many years that they've beat us or that they've won at home, all those things ... that's there. But this is now.
"So, 'What do we do with this week? How do we prepare?' ... I've got a lot of confidence in this team, and I'm excited. I'm excited for the opportunity that's ahead."
Partly due to Florida State's recent resurgence and partly due to Clemson's uncharacteristic struggles -- this is the first time the Tigers have lost three games in a season since 2014 -- the point spread for this week's game opened Sunday at only 10 points.
The last time the Seminoles traveled to Clemson, in 2019, they were 25.5-point underdogs.
But when FSU's coaches turned on the film of the Tigers this past weekend, they saw a team that looked very much like the one that has dominated the ACC and most of college football for the last several years. One that last lost at home in November of 2016 (43-42 to Pitt).
"They've had some great players and great coaches, and they've been so consistent," Norvell said. "They've played well together. This year, they've had some challenging games. ... It's a very talented group."
At the same time, Norvell believes the Tigers will see a different Florida State squad than the one that has lost five straight games in the series.
"I believe it is a new team," Norvell said. "We can sit back and look at all the streaks, you can look at all the rankings, the odds, all of that stuff ... but none of that really matters.
"This is a new team, it's a new day, it's a new opportunity for us. That's what we're focused on."
OL injury updates
Norvell said he had no definitive answers on the health of offensive guards Dillan Gibbons and Devontay Love-Taylor, but he is hopeful they will be able to play at Clemson. Love-Taylor was held out of the UMass game with a lower-body injury, while Gibbons sustained a leg injury in the first half of that game.