Jamie Harper's nearly 200 yards of total offense get an unquestioned 'A', as he pounded his way through the Florida State defense for all four quarters. Unfortunately, the rest of Clemson's offense couldn't get out of his way- especially in the red zone. Kyle Parker's two interceptions were as back breaking as any two plays on the night, ruining an otherwise solid outing. And perhaps the worst play call of the season also has to be highlighted- coming on a 2nd and 6, inside the FSU 10, on the first play of the fourth quarter when Clemson took to the air after Harper had carried defenders downfield for virtually the entire drive. The end result? What else but an interception that changed the complexion of the entire game. As bad as a mere 13 points on the scoreboard looks, DeAndre Hopkins' first game of more than 100 yards receiving plus Harper's play prevents the failing grade here.
Kevin Steele's defense gave up one touchdown and three field goals. Generally speaking, that should be enough to get the win, but with Clemson's offense and special teams Saturday night, it didn't happen. Some of the bright spots include: Da'Quan Bowers, who once again proved why he should be the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, recording a sack and an interception to go along with a team-high nine tackles. Also Xavier Brewer made six stops and held his own in coverage on several occasions as well. Credit FSU for going to the option game in the fourth quarter on its lone touchdown drive as that proved to be one of the more critical moments of the entire game. But the Tigers also assisted on the final Seminoles drive with a costly pass interference penalty just when it looked like the game was going to overtime. Could you write a more gut-wrenching script?
Jamie Harper rushed for 147 yards and also caught nine passes for 54 yards in the loss. (Roy Philpott)
As good as Clemson's special teams were in the first half the season, they've been equally as bad in the second. And once again it starts with the field goal unit- which suffered a blocked kick and a missed attempt from less than 40 yards. The return game was virtually non-existent as well. Adding insult to injury, Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins drilled the game-winner from 55 yards out with no time left to bury the Tigers and their 2010 Atlantic Division hopes one last time. Lost in the shuffle was also a snap that was delivered too early on the field goal attempt that was missed. Can it get any worse than this?
The defense continues to be outstanding while the offense continues to make you scratch your head. Oh sure, the stats look respectable with nearly 400 total yards, including a 200 yard passer, a 140 yard rusher and a 100 yard receiver- but the scoreboard is the only thing that matters at this juncture - and the Tigers recorded just 13 points in the loss, blowing multiple scoring opportunities in the red zone in the process. Where's the killer instinct? How many more ways can this program find a way to lose a game?
It was another game of missed opportunities and surprise, surprise: another close loss. What else can you say but this simply isn't Clemson's year? Costly turnovers, missed field goals and ill-timed penalties proved to be Clemson's undoing once again. Yes indeed, it was the same old song and dance Saturday night in Tallahassee, Fla. All that's left to play for now is a lower-tier bowl and possibly a season-saving game against South Carolina. Pretty tough pill to swallow considering the overtime loss at No. 2 Auburn, the five-point loss at UNC, the six-point setback at Boston College and now this crushing loss to Florida State. There's no other way to spin it: it's been a disappointing season all the way around.