With a road contest against the Florida Gators on the horizon and a slot in the inaugural ACC Championship game in Jacksonville the week following, a win this weekend in a hostile environment could prove to be momentum needed for the Seminoles' bid to earn a conference crown and BCS-game birth.
RESPECT GROWING THIN
Despite a No. 17 ranking in the country, the Tribe is gradually losing respect amongst its peers this season. With a loss to a struggling Virginia team, a close call against Maryland and a defeat at the hands of NC State, the Seminoles would love nothing better than to quiet the critics Saturday. The squad comes into the conference tilt with Clemson as just two-point favorites.
All criticism aside, however, the 'Noles still have the opportunity to make this a special season.
"We can still go down as one of the greatest Florida State teams ever," said FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker, who will start in place of the injured Leon Washington for the second-consecutive game. "Everybody is thinking how can you do that? There have only been four teams in the last 15 years that have won 11 games. If we win the rest of our games, then we still go down as starting the dynasty all over again. We are already in the ACC Championship game but that is not good enough."
After making it through the first five weeks of the 2005 season without any serious injuries, it could be argued that the matchup against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville, Va. started an unwanted trend and a pattern of disappointing play.
The Seminoles' leading receiver at the time, De'Cody Fagg, was injured in that ballgame and has been missing from action ever since. While he makes his return this weekend giving the Tribe a much needed boost in the short passing game (a facet of the game that proved to be a sufficient alternative for the struggling rushing attack), several other key players will not be suiting up.
Matt Meinrod (leg), John Frady (shoulder), Kamerion Wimbley (knee), Leon Washington (ankle) Gerard Ross (knee) will not be able for the Seminoles at Clemson. All six players were starters at their respective positions before being injured.
While the significant injuries mount for FSU, the Tigers will have the services of senior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who has battled with a shoulder injury.
The only two other mentionable injuries for Clemson are wide receiver Kelvin Grant (knee), who has just 10 receptions for 84 yards this season and defensive tackle Donnell Clark (knee), who has registered 14 total tackles. Both players were not starters.
HOME SWEET HOME
Sophomore linebacker Lawrence Timmons will get to play college football in his home state for the first time in his young career Saturday.
A native of Florence, S.C., Timmons was recruited heavily by Clemson and South Carolina coming out of high school two years ago. As a special-teams staple for the Seminoles this season, Timmons has registered 24 tackles and picked up one fumble recovery.
"It's going to be a nice little homecoming," he said. "I've got about 30 tickets."
Timmons and freshman Jamie Robinson, who is taking a redshirt this year, are the only two scholarship players on the Seminole roster that call South Carolina home.
CLEMSON STAT LEADERS:
Charlie Whitehurst - 170-of-253 for 1,837 yards, 8 TD, 6 INT
Will Proctor - 18-of-31 for 281 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Reggie Merriweather - 124 for 659 yards and 7 TD
James Davis - 93 for 519 yards and 5 TD
Kyle Browning - 33 for 106 yards and 0 TD
Chansi Stuckey - 47 for 579 yards and 2 TD
Aaron Kelly - 36 for 458 yards and 1 TD
Curtis Baham - 21 for 327 and 4 TD
Anthony Waters - 81 total tackles, 1.5 sacks
Tramaine Billie - 54 total tackles, 1 FF, 1 blocked kick
Nick Watkins - 52 total tackles, 1 INT
FLORIDA STATE STAT LEADERS
Drew Weatherford - 195-of-322 for 2,323 yards, 15 TD, 13 INT
Xavier Lee - 26-of-50 for 459 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Lorenzo Booker - 83 for 403 yards and 4 TD
Leon Washington -69 for 324 yards and 2 TD
Antone Smith -26 for 159 yards and 3 TD
Chris Davis - 38 for 525 yards and 4 TD
Willie Reid - 30 for 378 yards and 1 TD
Lorenzo Booker - 30 for 253 yards and 1 TD
A.J. Nicholson - 74 total tackles, 1 sack, 2 INT
Pat Watkins - 52 total tackles, 2 INT, 1 FF
Buster Davis - 51 total tackles, 2 sacks
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