Clemson, SC – Jump ball from Trevor to Tee for 40 yards. Double pass from Etienne to Ross for 23 more yards. 4thand 1 on the three? Shovel pass to Etienne for the opening touchdown. The tree leaves may still be green, but Clemson is in October form. All that was needed was the drop to number two and a trip aboard the ROY Bus.
The flashy heroics and trick plays were a great way to announce their arrival with a bang, but Clemson didn’t need the pixie dust to score against the embittered Seminole defense. Two drives later, every one of their nine plays went for positive yardage. Basic concepts like the outside zone and stick, as well as an interesting quarterback counter run inside for the 8-yard score.
The most of Clemson’s offensive concerns were Marvin Wilson batting down Trevor Lawrence’s passes, but Venables defense brought the heat on the renovated Briles offense from play one. Offensive linemen falling down on purpose, reverse runs, and shovel passes couldn’t put FSU on the scoreboard.
When Clemson brought the heat, FSU folded. When FSU brought the blitz, Trevor Lawrence stood tall in the pocket and found Justyn Ross for a 10-yard slant pass over the middle to extend the lead to 21-0 early in the second quarter.
After a Seminole three-and-out, Clemson drove 78 yards in six positive plays, with the icing on top an eight-yard touchdown pass to Justyn Ross (Clemson 28 FSU 0) – making up for their struggles earlier in the season.
The only other notable moments of the half were when Xavier Thomas fumbled on the goal-line in the jumbo package, FSU’s Keyshawn Helton was injured and taken off in an air-cast and a golf cart, and BT Potter missed a 24-yard field goal to end the half.
Against Clemson’s defense one only has a few big play opportunities per game, and FSU squandered their first when Blackman missed a wide open Cam Akers to open the second half.
Clemson’s response? Run Etienne the first 38 yards, and let Amari Rodgers take the ball to the house on a 29-yard run to go up 35-0. Amidst a penalty laden FSU drive, Derion Kendrick showed off his ball skills by intercepting Blackman and returning the interception 38-yards to the house: 42-0 Clemson, 9:17 in the 3rd.
FSU Fumble? Enter Chase Brice to the sound of AC/DC. No sooner than the music stopped did he exit the field as Lyn-J Dixon fumbled attempting to lateral the ball. Enter FSU’s Alex Hornibrook, whom promptly led FSU to an unceremonious three-and-out.
The most obvious beneficiary from the reset was Trevor Lawrence, whom completed 17 of 25 passes for 170 yards and four total touchdowns. Etienne had 127 yards rushing on the day, and Ross caught five passes for 61 yards and two consecutive scores. The offense as a whole opened up and let the talent take over. Speaking of talent, Isaiah Simmons continued his elite performance with eight tackles (two for loss), a sack, and a forced fumble. He will be a first round pick and could be a top ten pick if he continues this run of form and enters the draft.
The elusive Goose-Egg evaded Clemson yet again as Hornibrook connected with Tamorrion Terry for a 64-yard score off of busted coverage near the end of the third (42-7). In the fourth quarter, Sawicki (Clemson) and Aguayo (FSU) both scored field goals, and FSU scored a late touchdown to make the score 45-14.
Before the ROY Bus arrived, the 2019 Tigers were a peculiar case. Swinney’s Tigers tend to struggle (relatively) in September, but three eerie blowouts at home and two ugly escapes on the road raised cause for genuine concern entering the bye week.
Is Clemson still the underdog team? No – in the words of senior linebacker James Skalski. Does Clemson have a chip on their shoulder, the key to the ROY Bus? Absolutely. Fall is in the air and the ROY Bus is just getting started, and that spells trouble for the rest of college football.