Clemson - FSU video rewind

CLEMSON – When you watch a game at home or in the stadium, you miss stuff.

You're watching with eight or 83,000 of your closest friends, you're cooking, enjoying yourself, watching the wrong thing, and something important slips by.

That's why I've started doing this feature – a weekly rewind of Clemson football, the good and the bad. It helps me pick things up, and I think it'll help you, too.

Without further ado, here's what I picked up from ABC's broadcast of No.5 Florida State 51, No.3 Clemson 14, painful as it might be for Clemson fans:

ABC opens its broadcast with the No.1 team – Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit and sideline reporter Heather Cox, making their second visit to Memorial Stadium in seven weeks.

Musburger notes how Clemson is "looking to take their program to the next level, and what better chance to do so than against Florida State?"

Hebrstreit says FSU freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is "like Roy Hobbs, the Natural" and compares the Boyd-Winston matchup to a showdown between a veteran and young prizefighter.

This was the first time I'd seen ABC's Saturday Night Football open with Eminem's "Berzerk" single. Very cool retro/modern opening with shots of Danny Ford and Bobby Bowden interspersed.

ABC did a fantastic job documenting "the most famous 25 seconds in college football" in the opener against Georgia, and they took it to another level this time around, showing Clemson players boarding the buses and circling Memorial Stadium to what Musburger called "perhaps the grandest entrance in all of college football… pouring down Mount Clemson while players file down and touch Howard's famous Rock."

The cameras in the buses did an excellent job of conveying the emotion surrounding Clemson's pre-game ritual.

But I also thought it was fascinating that cameras caught Winston in FSU's locker room, telling his teammates that "we ain't leaving without a victory – we going to do this, and we going to do it big."

Unfortunately, Clemson's grand entrance was probably the highlight of the night.

The night turned on the first play, a nine-yard pass over the middle to Stanton Seckinger. Safety Lamarcus Joyner strips the ball, and Florida State recovers at the Clemson 34.

Two plays later, Kelvin Benjamin makes a tremendous catch over Darius Robinson, just barely scraping his left foot inbounds for the game's first touchdown – and key momentum.

Clemson can't do anything with its ensuing drive, although Rod McDowell wants pass interference on a tightly thrown Boyd third-down offering over the middle.

As Florida State's second drive begins, safety Robert Smith just barely misses a pick-six that deflects off tailback James Wilder Jr.'s hands. What could have been…

Instead, Winston leads an 18-play drive that winds up with a field goal and a 10-0 Florida State edge. FSU's line and run game looks impressive, and Benjamin nearly hauls in another 45-yard score, saved by excellent coverage from Bashaud Breeland.

Then comes the drive that really changes the game's tone.

A Watkins middle screen brings the ball across the 50, and Clemson has momentum.

Then, disaster. Joyner strikes again, forcing a fumble on a Boyd rollout that defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. scoops up for a 37-yard touchdown and 17-0 FSU lead.

"It got deathly quiet here," Musburger says. "Oh, do the Tigers need something positive to happen for them."

Boyd starts Clemson's ensuing drive with a toss right at Watkins' feet.

"You don't see Tajh Boyd make many throws like that," Herbstreit says. "This Clemson team looks rattled being down 17. This is where a veteran needs to right the ship."

And to his credit, Boyd does. He and Adam Humphries get a third-down, drive, extending pass interference call. And Boyd looks past a miscommunication with freshman Mike Williams to find him again to the FSU 3.

Watkins bails him out by making a great grab of a high, hard throw for the Tigers' first touchdown off a corner blitz by Joyner.

The smoke from the post-score fireworks lingers over the field, and Musburger says it's like the famous NFL playoff "Fog Bowl" he called between the Bears and the Eagles.

"You couldn't see anyone on the field," he said.

On cue, Winston looks like a freshman, making a miscommunication of his own that Breeland picks off and returns near midfield. A horse-collar penalty on the tackle by left tackle Cameron Irving puts Clemson in business at the FSU 42. The drive reaches the FSU 28, but dies when Rod McDowell tries to save a three-yard loss by cutting back to the left and outrunning defenders.

Unfortunately, this is not Tecmo Bowl, he is not Bo Jackson, and it's an eight-yard loss, killing the drive.

Dabo is not pleased with this development. Clemson gets across midfield again on its next drive, but can do nothing with it. Boyd looks rattled, throwing into triple coverage on third down. He's fortunate to avoid an interception. Rashad Greene's 72-yard touchdown catch-and-run got out of hand in a hurry.

It's a middle screen, and Breeland misses a chance to wrap up. So does defensive lineman DeShawn Williams, who was deployed back in coverage. That's all the crease Greene needs – he's off to the races.

As he pulls up in the end zone, he puts a finger to his mouth, as if to hush the crowd.

"Once he made that safety miss, nobody's going to catch Rashad Greene," Herbstreit says.

It is, indeed, much quieter.

Clemson moves the ball into FSU territory again as the half winds down. A nice draw by Boyd sets the Tigers up at the FSU 22.

But miscommunication strikes again; Humphries curls left in the right flat and Boyd throws right. Joyner makes an easy interception at the 12, even though Florida State had only 10 men on the field.

As FSU drives downfield for another field goal, sideline reporter Heather Cox reports that trainers have put Boyd's right ankle in a brace and "there's a lot of conversation about the future of Tajh Boyd in this game."

Replays show he hurt the ankle on the draw play just before the interception.

Linebacker Stephone Anthony is one of the only Clemson players to affect Winston all night, charging unblocked through the A gap for an easy sack.

A hold leaves FSU with second and 29 near midfield. Could Clemson's defense build some confidence?

Nope. A pair of great throws to Kenny Shaw dig FSU out of the hole, and a field goal leaves the score 27-7 at the half.

That trio of missed opportunities was the biggest turning point for Clemson. Cash in one or two, and it's a far different game. Instead, the Tigers look despondent as they head to the locker room.

The second half is no better. Kicker Bradley Pinion commits a facemask penalty on the opening kickoff, and FSU starts at the Clemson 42.

Several plays later, Greene takes a screen and weaves through a host of Clemson defenders for a 17-yard touchdown and 34-7 lead.

Now, Death Valley is truly quiet as a parade of fans make their way to the exits.

"Famous Jameis Winston is about to move to the top of the Heisman Trophy charts," Musburger says. "What a night."

Breeland makes a bad night worse by getting ejected for a targeting foul on Winston. He launched and met helmet to helmet, which is verboten under the new rules in place this year.

"That's going to hold up," Herbstreit says, and he's correct. Ouch.

Breeland sits alone on the sideline, looking thoroughly angry.

A bad sign: the first time you notice Clemson's defensive ends Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford is halfway through the third quarter.

It's fair to wonder why Watkins isn't returning punts, but Humphries answers some questions with a nice 45-yard return.

On Boyd's second interception, the announcers correctly note that FSU DB Ronald Darby simply sat and waited for Boyd to throw, as if he knew he'd throw directly to that spot on the field. Not pretty.

Travis Blanks is not going to enjoy watching replays of O' Leary trucking him with a lowered shoulder in the open field.

"That sums up the night for Clemson's defense," Herbstreit says. "Mercy."

(Did you know O'Leary was Jack Nicklaus' grandson? Just kidding: everyone knows). After another FSU score, ABC shows highlights from FSU's last win in Clemson on Nov. 3, 2001. Musburger notes that "Bobby Bowden beat Terry Bowden."

Maybe I missed something, there.

A couple observations: Beside Watkins, Williams was the only receiver that showed up (although he made his share of mistakes as well). Juniors Humphries and Martavis Bryant were virtually invisible.

Seckinger vs. Telvin Smith wasn't a fair matchup, even when Seckinger wasn't dropping passes.

Clemson actually outrushed FSU 123-121, and I don't think the offensive line played all that poorly. Florida State simply took away the Tigers' deep passing game and controlled the short and medium game well.

Finally, the night was summed up by a sequence midway through the fourth quarter, with Florida State up 48-7.

Clemson puts together an extended drive deep in Florida State territory and faces a fourth and goal at the FSU 1 – the kind of moment that Chad Morris lives for, to display his power running game.

Instead, tailback D.J. Howard is absolutely stuffed on a run up the middle by Telvin Smith. Two plays later, Winston connects with O'Leary for a 94-yard gain down the left sideline, and only a diving ankle tackle by Jadar Johnson keeps him from a 99-yard touchdown.

It was that kind of night in Death Valley – one that Clemson fans hope doesn't repeat itself for a long, long time, if ever again.

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