No. 2 Clemson facing improved Florida State team

Balance has been the key to Clemson’s offensive success this season, and coach Dabo Swinney is counting on that to continue Saturday when his No. 2-ranked team plays at Florida State.

Clemson (7-0, 4-0) is averaging 254 yards per game rushing and 269 yards passing, with 76 of the Tigers’ first downs coming on the ground and 81 first downs coming through the air.

“We’re in a good place,” Swinney said. “We still have a lot of room for improvement, but our guys are confident that we can throw and catch and run the ball effectively based on whatever the defense is giving us.”

One game after rushing for 471 yards against Wake Forest, the Tigers came back to throw for 380 yards in a romp against North Carolina State.

Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence is maturing at a rapid pace and ranks among the national leaders in passing efficiency and completion percentage. He also has 13 touchdown passes, which ranks second among freshmen in the FBS.

“He’s settling in and he’s not a freshman anymore — he’s a more seasoned guy,” Swinney said. “He’s seen a bunch of different looks now and is starting to make plays with his legs.”

Seminoles surging

Florida State (4-3, 2-3), meanwhile, would like nothing more than to derail Clemson’s quest for a fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title and College Football Playoff berth.

After a rough start that saw the Seminoles outscored 54-10 in their first two ACC games, Florida State appears to have rebounded. The Seminoles have won three of their last four games, with the lone defeat by one point at then-No. 17 Miami.

“Their record is not the same old Florida State right now,” Swinney said. “But their talent is.”

Florida State is coming of a 38-17 win against Wake Forest that saw quarterback Deondre Francois throw for 353 yards and two touchdowns and running back Cam Akers rush for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

The Seminoles’ defense amassed nine tackles for loss against the Demon Deacons, including six sacks.

“Our guys are just as talented as their guys are,” first-year Florida State coach Willie Taggart said. “So it helps. We knew going in that was going to be a strength for us — our d-line. So our offense gets some good competition against those guys, so they will be prepared.”

Clemson is 5-5 against Florida State under Swinney and has won each of the last three games, so Taggart is well aware that his team will have to muster its best effort to date to pull off the upset.

“You hear everyone talk about Alabama — Clemson is right up there,” Taggart said. “They have been to the playoffs the last three years. So this is a great football team coming to Doak Campbell (Stadium).”

–Field Level Media

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