Battle in the Florida capital

CLEMSON - Once again, CUTigers has its weekly installment of the Thursday players' notebook, which wraps up the previous week's match-up and looks ahead to what's upcoming.

BOWED UP: Had the defense not buckled down in the red zone during last weekend's 14-13 win over N.C. State, Clemson's push for a second-straight ACC Atlantic Division title would essentially be over.

Of the five trips to the red zone by the Wolfpack, three resulted in scores. Two of those three scores were field goals.

"Like coach [Kevin] Steele says, that's our job. We're defense," said defensive tackle Rennie Moore, who finished with a pair of tackles for loss on Saturday."

Two of the N.C. State red zone visits started inside the Clemson 20. Only three points came out of those two drives.

"Honestly, we're a team. We don't worry about what happens, whether it's an interception or fumble, it doesn't matter," Moore said. "We go out there and do what we're supposed to do--stop them from them from getting into the end zone."

PROTECTING THE BLIND-SIDE: Chris Hairston and company are charged with the task of slowing down a dangerous Florida State pass rush, which leads the country with 38 sacks.

First-year coordinator Mark Stoops doesn't dial up many complex blitzes. For the most part, he relies on the four-man rush by his line.

"They're not a huge blitz team, because of the success they've had with the four-man rush," Hairston said. "Their defensive ends are great players. The inside guys are quick guys. You have to get your hands on them, be ready for a battle and fight, until the quarterback gets the ball off."

Hairston will spend most of the night matched-up with defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who always lines up on the right-side of the Florida State defense.

Jenkins has registered 10 sacks this season.

"He's a smaller guy, probably about 240. He's listed at 239," Hairston said. "He's a really quick guy. He can go inside. He can get around the edge, turn the corner on you as well as any of the d-ends I've played against this year. He can do a little bit of it all. He's not a huge bull-rush guy, because he can out quick you and out athlete you."

A COUPLE HUNDRED BY AIR: As good as the Florida State front has done in picking up sacks, the backend of the defense hasn't faired very well against the pass.

The Seminoles are allowing an average of 226.7 yards passing.


"The biggest thing is going through the progressions and recognizing the guys that are open," he said. "We watched some of the UNC game the other day. Those are some good athletes on defense. Just recognizing it and taking advantage of the mistakes is how you're going to be successful against them." (Roy Philpott)
As long as Kyle Parker has the time, he's confident that the Clemson passing game can have some success picking apart a young secondary.

"The biggest thing is going through the progressions and recognizing the guys that are open," he said. "We watched some of the UNC game the other day. Those are some good athletes on defense. Just recognizing it and taking advantage of the mistakes is how you're going to be successful against them."

IF NOT PONDER, THEN MANUEL: For most of the week, the status of whether or not Florida State starting quarterback Christian Ponder plays on Saturday has been in doubt.

The senior did not practice Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday because fluid was being drained from his throwing elbow.

Even if he doesn't practice on Thursday, head coach Jimbo Fisher said that doesn't necessarily mean that Ponder won't play in Saturday's game.

If Ponder does not play, then it's backup E.J. Manuel, who defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is very familiar with.

"Me and him are friends. I played with him in the Under Armour All-American game," Bowers said. "I keep up with him quite a bit. We stay in touch throughout the season.

"He's a great player. If he gets the start, he's going to come to play. He's a fiery guy. He's going to do everything in his power to get that team a win."


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