Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers are used to replacing talented players year after year, but after last season, he was tasked with replacing two extremely successful coordinators on his staff. He chose to promote from within, with longtime QB coach Brandon Streeter being handed the keys to the offense and Wes Goodwin being elevated to defensive coordinator. These two choices will face heavy scrutiny throughout the year as Clemson fights to reclaim its place atop the Atlantic division.
Opponent: Clemson Tigers
Date: Saturday, October 15
Last matchup: No. 14 Clemson 30, FSU 20
Clemson Tigers: Team Preview
2021 record: 10-3 (6-2 ACC)
Names to Know
QB D.J. Uiagalelei- First, he has the worst deejay name I’ve ever heard. Second, DJU entered the 2021 season with massive levels of hype, even starring in his own Dr. Pepper commercial. What followed was, to put it nicely, a disappointing season for Clemson’s heralded quarterback. Uiagalelei finished the year with more interceptions than touchdowns (10 and 9, respectively) and a paltry 55.6% passing completion percentage (208 of 374 for 2246 yards). New OC Brandon Streeter will continue trying to find ways to increase DJU’s completion percentage and decision-making under pressure during his junior year campaign. Uiagalelei may find himself on a short leash with talented freshman Cade Klubnik pushing for playing time.
Cannon-armed passer who enters 2022 having completed 286-of-491 passes for 3,160 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 1,097 snaps over 23 games (15 starts) … also finished 2021 credited with 133 carries for 368 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
DT Bryan Bresee- the redshirt sophomore defensive tackle was limited to four games last season due to injury but still made the All-ACC Third Team. If Bresee is fully healed by the start of the season, look out. He will team with outstanding defensive end Myles Murphy and defensive tackle Tyler Davis to form one of the most talented and fearsome defensive lines in the nation. At 6’5” and 300 pounds, Bresee is a game changer and will wreak havoc on offensive backfields.
Former No. 1 recruit in the country who burst onto the scene as a Freshman All-American in 2020 … became the second ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in Clemson history, joining Dexter Lawrence (2016) … enters 2022 credited with 48 tackles (9.5 for loss), 5.5 sacks, two pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a safety in 586 defensive snaps over 16 games (14 starts).
Florida State Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers Prediction
Last season, FSU showed no fear against the Tigers before ultimately surrendering the lead with less than three minutes remaining in the game (Clemson added a style-points touchdown at the end of the game to hit 30). Clemson had three turnovers and missed three field goal attempts, while the Seminoles struggled with self-inflicted mistakes of their own.
If Florida State takes the field with the same fearless determination and heart, controls the ball with a strong game plan and timely chunk plays, and forces Clemson into a few turnovers, the Seminoles should be in the contest comfortably until the end. The ‘Noles may have to ride Jordan Travis’ legs against Clemson’s vaunted defensive line, but another year of experience could prove the difference if FSU hopes to break its losing streak against the Tigers. Hopefully, Dabo will be distracted from talking about the evils of paying college athletes (legally, at least) and the perils of the transfer portal.
Clemson’s defensive line could be among the best in the nation and though the Tigers must replace talented players every year, they’re known for getting their backups plenty of reps before they become starters. With half the season under each team’s belt by the time they meet on the field, new coordinator mistakes can’t be counted on.
FSU will enter the game having already played Louisville, Boston College, Wake Forest, and NC State following a bye week after LSU. Clemson will be coming off a three game stretch of Wake Forest, NC State, and Boston College, but without the benefit of any bye weeks to that point. Both teams will likely be banged up entering the contest, so functional depth will play a role in the outcome.
This game will be won in the trenches, plain and simple. While this looks to be the strongest offensive line FSU has fielded in the last half-decade, it will face an enormous challenge against Clemson’s defensive line. Clemson’s offensive line had plenty of struggles last season, so FSU’s defensive line will look to provide pressure on DJ Uiagalelei and try to stuff the interior run game.
We’ve seen the worst-case against Clemson plenty of times over the past five years, so that. Especially if the Tigers stomp FSU wearing their all-orange highway-cleaning-prisoner-crew ensembles.