Not all of the bullets the Tigers shot at their feet were dodged, but enough missed for Clemson to take a 40-24 win over Florida State Saturday night.
Riding their all-purpose horse--C.J. Spiller--the Tigers rolled to another win. Two touchdowns and another Clemson record later, the veteran isn't satisfied with just beating Florida State.
"We are very fortunate to come out with a win. We made a lot of mistakes tonight that could have cost us the game," he said.
Dabo Swinney grits his teeth at the mistakes that could have compromised a sixth, making Clemson bowl eligible.
Penalties, missed extra-points and field goals were all too common, but overcome.
"Tonight, we won in spite of," Swinney said. "I have a lot of coaching to do. Lord have mercy I have a lot of coaching to do.
"We have a lot of mistakes to correct."
The woes began in the first quarter with an unsportsman-like conduct penalty following a three-yard Florida State run. One play later, Christian Ponder hits Lonnie Pryor for a 49-yard touchdown. Seminoles 10, Tigers 6.
On the ensuing Clemson possession, Kyle Parker is intercepted by Jamie Robinson for a 52-yard touchdown.
Swinney specifically referenced a false start call at the Florida State one-yard line. Backed up five yards--still first and goal-- Parker is sacked and fumbles. The late first half drive had all the makings of being a classic grind it out drive of 79 yards that probably would have ended with No. 28 in the end zone. Instead of being down 17-14 at halftime, Clemson could have been up 21-17, assuming the extra-point was made.
Richard Jackson, who statistically ranks among the top kickers in the nation, looked to be in a funk Saturday night. He missed one extra-point and a field goal in the first half. He went on to miss one more of each again in the second half. Spencer Benton also missed an extra-point in the second half.
Clemson had five penalties for 40 yards in the first half. Coming into the game, the Tigers averaged just four a game. Florida State rolled up 241 yards of total offense, including 67 by running back Jermaine Thomas in the half.
"In the first half, we just couldn't stop them," Swinney said. "We stood up at some key times, but they were keeping the ball. We made good adjustments at halftime--the defense made good adjustments."
On one third quarter drive, a potential touchdown pass was dropped and a catch in the end zone was waived off because of a penalty. The drive ended with a missed field goal.
There were even mistakes when good things were happening.
On Rashard Hall's second half interception return, things almost turned for the worse when he tried to lateral the ball to DeAndre McDaniel. The ball flew past him and was picked up by a nearby Kavell Conner, who returned the ball deep into Florida State territory.
"That's a no-no," said defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. "We don't want to do that, at all."
Clemson finished with two turnovers, seven penalties and one win. The mistakes were met in stride and overcome. What would have been the typical, here we go again letdown wasn't.
Swinney said he couldn't be more proud of his team.
"It's about how we play the game, because we're good enough," he said. "We're good enough. These kids are finally starting to believe that."
Tigers find a way
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