I recently was interested in how FSU's defense may attack the Clemson offense.
Clemson's offense relies on missed assignments and diversion to create big plays and get into favorable match ups. A combination of the triple option and west coast offense, meaning most of the plays happen at the line of scrimmage and then they eventually try to push the ball vertically, or hit a quick run vertically when the defense is lulled by the short, high percentage plays.
I think there are many strategies that can challenge this offensive style, I pose this more to bring up conversation rather than say there is a prescription to stopping the offense. To get past the obvious, FSU must be sound in assignments and tackle in space; nothing new with every day football, but with the style offense and playmakers in Clemson's offense this is crucial. FSU will probably be in a more 4-2-5/3-3-5 look dropping a lineman to disguise pressure. So there will be a little more speed on the field.
What I think should be considered is our two very good coverage safeties playing further from the line of scrimmage than usual. After watching the 49ers/Lions game on Sunday night, the 49ers who possess a very good run defense much similar to FSU, the 49ers kept their safeties very deep and played press with their DB's the whole game. This does a few things that could disrupt Clemson's offense:
A. Disrupts timing on quick pass plays and passes behind the line of scrimmage
2. Take away the deep passing game
D. Make them earn every yard, both receivers and running backs, without giving up the big play
The high safety play also allows the safeties to come down on their first step which with the speed and tackling ability that both Joyner and Brooks bring could get to running backs within the first 5 yards. This relies on the the lineman and linebackers to play gap sound in order to slow down the runner. I think FSU needs to disrupt the timing to cause turnovers and make sure Watkins and Hopkins always having someone coming over the top. This may put a higher emphasis on the coverage of the linebackers, but with C. Jones and T. Smith I think both can easily transition into coverage quickly (I also think V. Williams can handle a tightend or running back in limited space).
First post, but thought this would be a good discussion looking for another wrinkle will be put in place in this defense similar to what we saw in the Oklahoma game with the 3 man front.