ACC

Clemson makes statement, pounds Florida State

A “pissed” Dabo Swinney greeted reporters following Wednesday night’s practice leading up to this week’s game against Florida State.

The Tigers played like a team that was angry in a dominant 45-14 victory over the Seminoles on Saturday afternoon.

Clemson completely controlled the game from the opening snap, jumping out to a 28-0 first-half lead and cruising to its 21st consecutive victory. The win also marked Clemson’s fifth straight win over FSU in what has become a lopsided series as of late. The Tigers have outscored Florida State 104-24 the past two years.

“Just proud of our team. A huge step in the right direction. That was a really talented football team that we just beat. A very talented team,” Swinney said. “I thought offensively they set the tone for the whole game today.”

Clemson’s impressive performance came after the Tigers had an open date following a close victory against North Carolina. There was some criticism of Clemson after holding on for a 21-20 victory against UNC on Sept. 28, leading Swinney to bring the “ROY bus” or “rest of y’all bus” out of the shed.

Swinney played up the narrative that Clemson was once against just a part of the “rest of y’all” chasing Alabama heading into the matchup against FSU, just like he did throughout the 2018 season. Against FSU, the Tigers played like last year’s version of Clemson that pounded Notre Dame and Alabama in the College Football Playoff.

“It was our best game for sure to this point, and just a huge win. It was good to see us look like a really competent team today,” Swinney said. “That’s five out of six games I think we’ve played pretty good, but today was our best day.”

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was particularly impressive, passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception before leaving the game early in the third quarter. Lawrence also rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown and took several tough hits but appeared unbothered.

A reporter questioning Lawrence’s health led to Swinney being upset this week. Lawrence told Tiger Illustrated he received an MRI following the Texas A&M game. After Tiger Illustrated reported the news, Swinney received a text message from a reporter asking about Lawrence’s health.

“I’m hot about this because I got a text last night at home and I was pissed about it,” Swinney said. “There’s nothing wrong with him. Zero. Nothing. So people need to get over themselves and quit creating drama when there is none. Zero. It drives me crazy. I’ve been mad about it since last night.”

Clemson outgained Florida State 367-63 in the first half and 552-253 for the game. Isaiah Simmons was once again the star for Clemson’s defense, finishing with a team-high eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

Clemson rushed for 320 yards, with Travis Etienne recording a game-high 127 on the ground. Etienne also had a receiving touchdown on a shovel pass.

Justyn Ross caught a pair of touchdowns from Lawrence, while Amari Rodgers scored from 29 yards out on a reverse.

THREE POINTS

Star of the game: Trevor Lawrence needed only a little more than two quarters to account for four touchdowns. He led Clemson to touchdowns on four of its first five drives to quickly grab control before exiting the game early in the third quarter.

Play of the game: Derion Kendrick, who switched from receiver to cornerback this spring, looked like a receiver during a pick-six early in the third quarter. He returned the interception 38 yards for a score to give Clemson a 42-0 lead.

Stat of the game: 552: The Tigers finished with 552 yards of offense. Florida State did not reach 200 until garbage time.

OBSERVATIONS

The gap isn’t closing: Florida State might be recruiting at a pace that is similar to Clemson, but on the field the two teams still aren’t close.

Etienne got going: Clemson’s star running back carried the ball 17 times for 127 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for the first time since the season opener against Georgia Tech.

Defense dominates: FSU had 63 yards of offense in the first half and did not reach the 200-yard mark until garbage time in the fourth quarter.

NEXT

Who: No. 2 Clemson (6-0, 4-0) at Louisville (3-2, 1-1)

When: Oct. 19, Noon

Where: Cardinal Stadium; Louisville, Kentucky

TV: ABC

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