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Pass protection results are drastically different between Clemson and FSU

Can the Seminoles close the gap in keeping their QB upright?

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami
Kareem Are assists Deondre Francois
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ACC rivals Clemson and Florida State, set to meet following bye weeks on October 29, are nearly equally adept at getting after the quarterback. Through seven games, the Tigers and ‘Noles have posted 25 and 24 sacks, respectively, which presently ranks both in the top five of the FBS.

But while they couldn’t be much closer with regard to taking down their opponents’ QBs, similarities cease when it comes to protecting their own signal-callers. And the Seminoles find themselves very much on the wrong side of the disparity.

Clemson is doing just fine. Allowing seven sacks, for an average of just one a game, isn’t going to provide any great advantage to the opposition, nor is it going to result in undue wear and tear on Deshaun Watson.

The same cannot be said for FSU, which has allowed three times the sacks as Clemson, with 21. That’s not just bad; it’s the worst in the ACC— with a three-sack cushion. It’s almost the worst among all power-five conference teams, as only Iowa State has been sacked more often (27 times). Across all FBS teams, Florida State ranks 119th of 128 in sacks allowed.

That kind of pressure resulted in ‘Nole QB Deondre Francois having to play through pain to finish the Seminoles’ last two games, against Miami and Wake Forest. And if it isn’t handled better against Clemson next Saturday, Francois may not finish the game at all.