First things first, a short PSA regarding your Florida State defense:
In its last 2 games, FSU's defense has limited arguably the two best ACC WRs (Campanero, Watkins) to a combined 8 catches for 32 yards.— rob hodges (@ricobert1) September 26, 2012
Thoughts on Clemson's Defense
I was astounded to see Clemson come out (and play most of the game) in a 3-4 / 3-3-5 look with a rushing LB against FSU.
From left-to-right on their normal starting defensive line, they weigh 280, 290, 295, & 280. While no means the biggest at defensive tackle, Crawford & Goodman are huge bodies with athletic talent. But as I noted prior to the Clemson game, Clemson's front-four is no more than a shadow of their 2011 line:
[Through three games,] Clemson's starting defensive line has...zero sacks of the team's three total sacks...producing negative plays at almost half their 2011 rate of production...[and] producing QB hurries at just over half their 2011 rate of production.
It is a tacit (if not explicit) confession that Brent Venables has absolutely no faith in his front-four's ability to play gap-assignment football. He opted to go 1-gap -- that is, shoot one gap between offensive linemen and hope it creates pressure vs. the pass & run.
You know who else does that?
You know why?
Because they don't have the horses to engage a block, stalemate, and disengage-to-defend the gap to their right or left.
That Clemson defense should cause knees of Tiger fans to quiver anytime the rest of this year they go against a solid offensive line. What a monumental problem for a (former) Top-10 team to have four weeks into a season.
FSU Offensive Line
I have been really pleased with the run protection thus far from our offensive line, specifically on outside zone (OZ) calls. To be fair, FSU has still not faced a front-four that plays big-boy football with regards to gap integrity. But how many crappy defensive lines did we poorly block last season? The improvement is obvious. Though I was thinking our biggest improvement would show up in inside zone (IZ) calls, there was reason to suspect considerable improvement:
In summary, FSU's 2012 offensive line is bigger (~35 lbs.), similarly talented, further along in the college program (+1.4 years), older (+2.12 years), and more experienced (+27 starts) than their 2008 predecessors. The 2008 offensive line faced the 6th hardest set of defenses, and improved it's average yard per carry by +1.12 from 2007 (4.22 to 5.34). 5 ypc is not an unreasonable expectation from this 2012 unit.
While we definitely haven't faced the 6th hardest set of defenses this season, 7.49 yards per carry - #1 nationally - is more than a step in the right direction. And filtering to include only D1 opponents? 7.91 yards per carry. FSU hopes to carry this momentum into Raymond James Stadium.
Something Statsy about USF
- USF has the 92nd ranked (FEI) defensive efficiency in the nation. Defensive efficiency is "a measure of the actual drive success of opponents against expected drive success based on field position." In short, USF opponents have had a lot of success driving against the USF defense.
- Clemson has the 98th ranked defensive efficiency in the nation. That takes into account them having played FSU last Saturday - and getting shredded. USF's ranking above doesn't. For reference, last week Clemson's ranking was 44th before dropping precipitously to 98th.
- Think about that.