Quarterback Kyle Parker(1,529 yards(55%), 9/7) is not having the type of year that many envisioned. He has struggled at times and more will be put on his plate this week because star RB Andre Ellington(686 yards, 10 TDs) will be out with a foot injury. Clemson will turn to Florida product Jamie Harper(383 yards, 4 TDs) to carry the load.
Parker will look to WRs Dwayne Allen(29-339), DeAndre Hopkins(23-266), and Jaron Brown(16-230) to provide some big plays against an FSU secondary that has been susceptible vs. the pass. Parker has plus arm strength and can make all the throws, the FSU secondary will need to be on their toe's.
Probably the most intriguing match-up is the Clemson OL vs. the FSU DL. Clemson is among the best in the country at protecting the QB while FSU leads the nation with 38 sacks.
Clemson has not been explosive offensively thus far, the Tiger's scored 24 vs Auburn, 21 vs. Miami, 16 vs. UNC, 10 vs. BC, and 14 vs. NCSU. We will give them 17 on Saturday.
Florida State Offense
It looks like FSU will get a look at the future this Saturday when E.J. Manuel makes his first start of the year. Oddly it was just this time last year when Ponder went down with an injury and Manuel took over. He had his moments last year, but clearly is more prepared right now. The former Five-Star QB has all the tools and has worked hard to be ready.
Will we see Ty Jones? That is a big question as clearly the 'Noles miss his inside running presence. Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson are both healthy and ready to go. They bring more big-play ability to the table.
Manuel will have a deep receiving group to work with, Willie Haulstead might be the key. The sophomore has really come on recently and in general has improved each week. He provides the type of big target that should ease the mind of Manuel. Veterans Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling need to help the young QB out by catching the ball and running crisp routes.
Florida State can't seem to get their starting five offensive linemen on the field at the same time, one always seems to be missing. That is likely the case again Saturday.
Clemson's defense is not dominant, but they have hung tough despite being put in less than desirable circumstances all year(struggling offense). They will come after Manuel early and often and see if they can rattle him.
PREDICTION: We expect to see a close game in this one. Without Ellington, Clemson will need to have a great day passing the football to win this game. FSU has their own question marks with a new QB. Perhaps the biggest thing for the 'Noles is to get off to a hot start.
In the end, this is another close FSU-Clemson game with FSU winning 24-17.