Florida State's defense played extremely well all night long. The Tigers came into the game averaging nearly 41 points per game, and Florida State held them to 23. They held Clemson to just 6 yards per play, which was nearly a yard under what they averaged coming into the game.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson came in averaging 9.3 yards per attempt against Power-5 opponents, but Florida State held him to 7.3. They held the Tiger offense to 5.1 yards per rush. Clemson ran 85 plays on offense, and the defense just got worn out at the end of the game. Still it was an admirable performance against the No. 1 team in the country.
LB Terrance Smith:
Smith missed the entire month of October with a high ankle sprain, but he came back with a fury. Smith was second on the team in tackles with 12, and he made multiple plays. His play was one of the main reasons that the Florida State defense was able to hold up as well as they did.
The Interior Defensive Line:
Florida State's defensive tackles dominated the Clemson interior for almost the entire game. Sophomores Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas led the way for the Seminoles, which is a fantastic sign for the future.
RB Dalvin Cook:
Cook was once again the best player on the field for the Seminoles, and, for the third time this season, he took his first carry over 70 yards for a touchdown. He finished the game with 194 yards and 1 touchdown, and is just 12 yards away from breaking Florida State's single season rushing record.
The Florida State Passing Game:
It definitely wasn't a banner day for the Florida State passing offense. Sean Maguire was held to just 164 passing yards on 29 attempts. He didn't throw a touchdown, and had a critical interception in the red zone. Maguire missed on a number of down field passes, and was inaccurate on a number of his mid-range passes as well.
He wasn't all to blame for the lack of production though. The Florida State receivers and tight ends had trouble getting separation, and outside of Travis Rudolph, who had some drop issues, they were largely invisible.
It's been an issue all season, but false starts and delay of games put the Florida State offense in some really bad positions at critical times. Six of the nine penalties the Seminoles were called for on Saturday were on the offense. They were all false starts and delay of games. Four of them came in the third quarter, with three coming with Florida State behind or tied. Two of them occured when the Seminoles were inside the Clemson 40.
Red Zone Offense:
Once again Florida State struggled to put seven points on the board in the red zone. The Seminoles long touchdown run by Cook was the only touchdown of the game. Florida State had two opportunities in the red zone, but came up with just three points. Florida State is now just 15 of 31 on red zone touchdowns this year, and just 10 of 23 against Power-5 opponents.