In perhaps the most lopsided loss in Florida State history, the ’Noles fell to Clemson by a score of 59-10 this past weekend.
The game was close for the 1st quarter. In fact, the teams were tied 0-0 after 15 minutes.
But then Clemson scored 28 points in the second quarter and 24 points in the third, while holding FSU to just three points over the same time frame.
It was a game in which several Florida State players “quit”, as stated directly by head coach Willie Taggart. There’s not much to be gained from a play-by-play analysis, but there are still a few plays we can break down to see where FSU failed and Clemson succeeded.
The play: Trevor Lawrence post pass complete to Justyn Ross for 41 yards to the FS23, 1ST DOWN CU (Kyle Meyers), clock 00:13.
At this point in the game, Florida State had contained Trevor Lawrence and Clemson’s offense. But, unfortunately, the floodgates are about to open.
Clemson lines up in a familiar three-receiver set, with receiver Justyn Ross isolated on the boundary side of the field against Kyle Meyers.
The play action from Clemson is what dooms Florida State. On the snap, all three linebackers and the safety on the boundary side of the field creep up to account for Travis Etienne.
This leaves the middle of the field wide open for a talented passer like Lawrence, who easily pitches it over the top of AJ Westbrook to a wide open Ross on a post route.
Credit to Florida State for tracking him down before Ross can score, but this is a major bust in coverage, and the first of many big plays the Seminoles would allow.
The play: Trevor Lawrence sideline pass complete to Tee Higgins for 3 yards to the FS0, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:49.
Backed up on its own goal line, Florida State needs a stop here to prevent Clemson from going up two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, Lawrence has already identified the matchup he wants to target on this play.
Facing an eight man box and man-to-man coverage across the board, Lawrence recognizes stud receiver Tee Higgins isolated one-on-one against safety Hamsah Nasirildeen. The sophomore FSU defender may be a talented player, but Higgins was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and this is an obvious mismatch.
Lawrence doesn’t even bother with the play action and flips it outside to Higgins. The receiver easily boxes out Nasirildeen before turning around for the catch.
This is a really good play by Clemson on the goal line, one not many college defensive backs can defend. Although Nasirildeen wasn’t the best player for single coverage on Higgins in this scenario, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option on FSU’s roster to defend this play.
The play: Deondre Francois deep in pass intercepted by Tre Lamar at the CU27, Tre Lamar return 43 yards to the FS30 (Mike Arnold) (Dexter Lawrence).
Facing 3rd & 20 and a 14-0 deficit, Florida State is desperately trying to create some offense before the Tigers run away with the game.
The Seminoles line up with three receivers and a tight end, all of whom run deep routes in order to try and get a first down.
However, Dexter Lawrence blows up this play, as the junior defensive tackle pushes Alec Eberle back into Deondre Francois and forces an errant pass.
Francois’ pass is easily intercepted by linebacker Tre Lamar. Even if Francois hadn’t been pressured, there’s still a good chance this pass would’ve been intercepted, as Tamorrion Terry is double-covered. A poor play by FSU becomes Clemson’s gain, and the Tigers took advantage, increasing the lead.
The play: Trevor Lawrence slant pass complete to Amari Rodgers for 58 yards to the FS0, 1ST DOWN CU, TOUCHDOWN, clock 14:12.
Early in the third quarter, Clemson takes advantage of FSU’s mistakes to blow the game wide open.
The Tigers use four receivers with Rodgers isolated on the field side against freshman Asante Samuel Jr. Clemson runs a simple slant concept, with Rodgers creating inside leverage against the off-coverage from the cornerback. This is intended to create a short gain and set up a manageable third down for the offense.
However, Rodgers breaks the tackle-attempt from Samuel Jr. and bursts into the open field where no Florida State defender manages to catch him.
Could this be one of the plays that Taggart mentioned in his post-game press conference when he said some players quit?
The play: Trevor Lawrence deep pass complete to Amari Rodgers for 68 yards to the FS0, 1ST DOWN CU, TOUCHDOWN, clock 07:50.
This is the last play...I promise.
On the first play of its drive, Clemson runs max-protect off play-action with the running back and tight end staying in to block in order to give Lawrence time to take a shot downfield.
Only three routes are run on this play. The two outside receivers run go routes and the slot receiver runs an outside slant towards the sideline.
As such, the outside receivers are matched one-on-one against Florida State’s cornerbacks. Rodgers, who we saw in the previous play, gets a step on Levonta Taylor down the field. Lawrence drops this ball in perfectly for the speedy receiver, and Rodgers gets loose for a long touchdown.
At the end of this play, Taylor seems to come up lame so it’s possible he pulled something on this run.
This is one of those plays you tip your cap. Lawrence, a true freshman, puts this throw on the money. There’s not much you can do to defend throws of this caliber.