Looking to avoid a repeat

CLEMSON - Dabo Swinney was so frustrated by his defense's second half performance against Florida State last year that he had to cut the film off.

Over the final 30 minutes at Doak Campbell Stadium, there were plenty of reasons for Swinney to feel so disgusted by what he saw. En route to the Seminoles' 49-37 win, they put up 341 yards and 35 points in the second half.

Brent Venables didn't particularly care for the second half either.

"Last year, they controlled the line of scrimmage," Venables said. "That was a big part of the game."

A few other factors led to Clemson's demise that night.

"The explosive plays and the turnovers. We lost the explosive play race, we lost the line of scrimmage and the rushing total," Venables said. "But we were actually in it still, until late.

"That's a formula for disaster."

According to Venables -- and many other football coaches, for that matter -- three factors determine the outcome of any game.

"Explosive plays, who wins that battle? Turnovers and the run game, to me those are the three things -- if you have three elements -- if you win two of the three, you've got a chance to win," he said. "If you win all three, you'll win 100 percent of the time. If you don't win any of them, you've got no chance whatsoever."

Venables added, "Winning the explosive play, us limiting them, our offense outgaining there's, in that regard, and the turnovers -- the run game will be a huge part of it."

Looking at the 2013 Noles

Florida State has one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Seminoles are third in the country in scoring with 53.6 points per game.

Last season, they finished 10th with 39.3.

"Play calling is similar," Venables said, when asked to compare last year's offense to this one. "Their execution is better. They've got veterans everywhere, so they're playing like veterans across the board. The quarterback is playing out of his mind."

Indeed. Jameis Winston has passed for 1,441 yards and rushed for another 135. He's also accounted for 19 touchdowns.

"They do a lot off their play-action game. The play-action game is no good if their run game's no good," Venables said.

On the ground

In rushing offense, Florida State is 17th in the nation.

Devonta Freeman is first on the team in yards [385] and carries [54]. He's second with three touchdowns. Karlos Williams is first with six touchdowns and second with 244 yards. James Wilder Jr. has rushed 36 times for 214 yards and two scores.

Go ahead and count Venables among those impressed by the trio backs.

"Explosion, the way they can pace as runners. They're good zone runners. They pace it well. They wait for blocks to open up," he said. "They run behind their pads. They're strong, explosive runners."

And, of course, Winston is quality runner, too.

"They're going to run the lead option, the speed option, the quarterback zone and some quarterback draw. They've done all that with this quarterback," Venables said.

Through the air

Winston also has a plethora of wide receivers to throw the ball to.

Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw are tied for first with 23 receptions. They have 407 and 406 receiving yards, respectively. Greene is tied for the team lead with five touchdown catches. Shaw has three scoring receptions.

The 6-foot-5, 234-pound Kelvin Benjamin has caught 17 passes for 299 yards and three scores.

"They're all big and fast, explosive. It's the best group of receivers we're going to see, hands down," Venables said.

Tight end Nick O'Leary isn't too shabby either. He's got 11 receptions for 132 yards and five touchdowns.

"He's one guy out of high school that's lived up to his billing," Venables said. "Yeah, he's really good. He's a good outlet for them. He runs good routes, has great hands."

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