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Florida State-Clemson halftime observations

’Noles started out fine, but ran out of gas late.

NCAA Football: Clemson at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

At halftime and Clemson leads 28-0. FSU started out well but mental mistakes doomed FSU’s offense & FSU’s defense was hung out to dry by its offensive compatriots.

Florida State’s defense was particularly excellent early along the defensive line w/ no running lanes coming open for Clemson’s star RB Travis Etienne and QB Trevor Lawrence under constant pressure. Inspired defensive line play helped to keep the game scoreless through the first quarter.

Offensively in the first quarter; mental mistake after mental mistake kept FSU from putting together a good drive. Whether it was a 23 yard loss errant snap or multiple drops by your upperclassmen receivers; FSU just couldn’t take advantage of some plays to be made vs. Clemson’s secondary.

In the second quarter FSU had managed to stop Clemson’s best drive of the day w/ a missed field goal but another special teams mistake; a roughing the kicker penalty, would give Clemson another set of down and this time they cashed with a touchdown pass to Tee Higgins. On Clemson’s second TD drive; poor tackling allowed Clemson to convert on first and goal with another TD to Higgins.

After an interception return; Clemson would punch it on 3rd and a goal with two yard touchdown run by Christian Wilkins. That’s not a typo; DT Christian Wilkins got his William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry moment vs. FSU. At this point in the game, like similar games beforehand, FSU’s defense looked like a defense that had been on the field for almost the entirety of the quarter at that point.

Offensively in the second quarter it didn’t get much better for Florida State. Jacques Patrick had a nice run on first down but another mental mistake made it second and long when Tamorrion Terry received his first target of the game; a a catch that resulted in a 13 yard gain. It’s inexplicable to me that his first target could come that long into the game. Unfortunately, two incompletions would lead to another blown opportunity.

Another drive in the second quarter would end with a Francois interception to Tre Lamar. This was after Cam Akers fumbled on a carry inside Clemson’s territory on first down (recovering his own fumble) and then dropped a wide open pass on second down in which it looked like had plenty of room to run afterwards. Again the mental mistakes offensively doomed an opportunity when it looks like FSU’s over-matched offensive line is actually playing quite well.

Florida State’s special teams are an absolute, abject disaster.

A delayed 11 yard kick-off return (particularly bad when you can now call fair catches inside the 25), a timeout for too many men on the field, and the roughing the kicker penalty which essentially gave Clemson seven points. Multiple 20+ yard punt returns allowed to Clemson’s Amari Rodgers. For a unit with an individual coach in week eight; those continued mistakes are unacceptable.

Maybe the ’Noles can make it respectable in the second half but the current story of this game is clear. You can’t make that many mental mistakes when you’re a 17-point home underdog and expect to it to be competitive.