Tomorrow is a huge matchup for ACC rivals Florida State and Clemson. What was once a huge nail bitter between two dominant schools for the better part of the past decade is now considered by most, as a guaranteed win for the Tigers.
Clemson has won four straight meetings with the most recent being 59-10 blowout in last year in Doak Campbell Stadium. Many are predicting a similar outcome as Noles are currently sitting as a 27-point underdog.
However, FSU’s has shown continued improvement week by week so far this season, and have grown a good bit from the team that blew a 23 point lead to Boise State. So this matchup has the potential to be more completive than beloved during the first few weeks on play this year.
Both teams coming off of their bye week, which is probably more beneficial for FSU, who have had two weeks of practice to prepare for their biggest competition of the season. The Noles are coming off of 2 solid wins and have some good momentum going both on offense and even more so on defense.
The biggest factors paying into the growth of FSU…first year offensive coordinator Kendal Briles maximizing his offensive talent as well recently acquired defensive analyst Jim Leavitt getting the defense to play more competently while committing less penalties.
James Blackman was announced as starter earlier this week though its likely we’ll see Alex Hornibrook get a fair share of playing time. The graduate transfer from Wisconsin has proven to keep his composer under pressure while being shiftier behind the spotty O line. However, Blackman has the stronger arm and the ability to make bigger plays. Briles and Taggart will probably sub them situationally throughout the game given the offensive needs and to keep Clemson’s solid defensive front on their toes.
Third year RB and often times lone bright spot on offense, Cam Akers will be an obvious weapon for FSU, but so far this season Clemson has held almost every star RB below their average yards per carry. FSU’s O-line, while improving, is no where near elite but they will have to create holes for Akers to allow him to dominate like he’s been doing all season to give Florida State a fighting chance. Right now, Akers ranks in the top 15 nationally with 138 all-purpose yards per game, 582 rushing yards, 9 and total touchdowns.
Even more importantly, the Seminole O-Line has got to find a way to protect their QB for the entirety of the game. Unfortunately for the Noles, Clemson has a great pash rush, and FSU has been allowing almost four sacks a game. However, the O-Line could get a slight boost this week if starting LT Jauan Williams returns from an ankle injury, but Clemson’s depth up front will challenge FSU’s line for the entirety of the contest.
Slightly in FSU’s favor is that Trevor Lawrence has been in a bit of a slump compared to his freshman year performance, but FSU’s secondary hasn’t been great at defending the pass generally this season, though they did show a lot of improvement against NC state. With Janarius Robinson out for the first half, the Noles will have to find a way to replace the pressure he’s been putting on their opponent’s QBs.
I believe there is a way for FSU to keep it interesting if they can pull their weapons together. They have the talent to compete with the tigers, but will it be utilized properly? It’s likely that this game will still be a mark in the Tiger’s win column, but it doesn’t have to resemble at all the 49 point blowout that occurred in Tallahassee a year ago.
Fortunately for FSU head coach Willie Taggart,he’s heading into this game with some more breathing room, as many have already written it off as a loss before the season even began. Unlike the high stakes and backlash that came with the Boise State and Virginia losses, and even more so from the near loss to ULM, Taggart will be under significantly less pressure on Saturday being the obvious underdog. This could be the game where we see him pull out some of the trick plays he was so known for during his time in Tampa with USF.
In his press conference earlier this week, there was a noticeable energy to him when talking about the opportunity that his team is presented with on Saturday.
“Really excited…Another opportunity to get on the field and compete, and not only get to compete, we get to compete against the defending national champions this week. Go to their place, and (it’s) one unbelievable opportunity for our football team. I know our guys are practicing hard, practicing well, and getting ready to take on a great challenge.”
He concluded with “To be the man, you’ve got to beat the man. Clemson is the man, and again, we understand the challenge but we look forward to it.”
A challenge only a handful of teams get the opportunity to do… to go against the reigning national champion in their house.
FSU released Mike Norvell’s assistant coach’s salary info
New FSU coach Mike Norvell is full speed ahead in every aspect of his program, including finalizing his coaching staff. And, he and the athletic department are making sure that his coaches are more than competitively compensated for his first season.
The Tallahassee Democrat obtained coaching salary information for seven of the eight assistants that Norvell has agreed with. According to their reporting, seven coaches have signed a “letter of understanding” in lieu of later actual contract and it details their compensation amounts:
— Curt Weiler (@CurtMWeiler) January 24, 2020
First, Norvell agreed to a six year deal in December to take over in Tallahassee and it will average just over $4.4 million over the life of the deal. He also received an assistant pool from the school of $5.25 million.
On the breakdown, Norvell’s highest paid assistant will be defensive coordinator, Adam Fuller, who is slated to make $800,000 this season after coming to the Noles with Norvell from Memphis
Norvell will pay FSU’s new offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, who was at Auburn a year ago, but was previously the offensive coordinator at Memphis with Norvell before that, $625,000. And, special teams coordinator John Papuchis will earn $550,000 this season.
The paper also learn the three other position coaches are also going to be making half a million dollars each. Interestingly, defensive line coach Odell Haggins has an existing salary a $482,000 and is being retained by Norvell. One would have to believe with the job that Haggins did, once again as the interim head coach for the final three games of the season and FSU’s bowl game, if you’ll receive some type of raise.
Receivers Coach Ron Dugans was also retained by Norvell and his compensation is slated to be $450,000 for this season, unless Norvell, chooses to give him as raise, too.
The only salary exception is defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson, who has been reportedly hired this past week, but not officially announced by the school. And, FSU obviously does not have a letter of understanding with Woodson, like the others do.
Norvell has taken over the Seminoles after leading the Memphis Tigers to their most successful season in their history at 12 – 1, including an American Conference Championship game win over Cincinnati. That earned them a berth in the Cotton Bowl.
Norvell did not return to coach that game is Penn State defeated them on New Year’s Day.
His previous salary was just over $2.5 million with incentives at Memphis.
ACC releases FSU and Miami dates for 2020 opponents
The Atlantic Coast Conference released their conference schedule for 2020 on Wednesday morning, and we now know the opponents and the order of conference games for the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.
First, for Miami. They already knew that they were opening the pre-conference schedule with Temple at home on Saturday, September 5th, and there toughest early test will likely be at Michigan State three Saturdays later.
The 2020 📅 has officially arrived!
This year's schedule features seven games at @HardRockStadium including Florida State.
— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) January 22, 2020
Miami will play their only non-Saturday ACC game six days later on a Friday night in Winston-Salem, NC, against Wake Forest.
Miami also has home games with North Carolina and then the Seminoles, which comes on November 7th. The Hurricanes will also play at Virginia, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech before finishing the season on Saturday November 28th back at home vs. Duke.
As for the Seminoles, they come off of a loaded pre-conference season where they are playing West Virginia in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend Saturday September 5th. And, they are playing at Boise State in the return game for last year’s upset loss on September 19th in Idaho.
FSU learned Wednesday, that they will open at NC State on Saturday October 3rd. The Noles and first year coach Mike Norvell, then get four time defending champion Clemson, as their second ACC opponent the following week in Tallahassee.
Then, they also host Wake Forest on October 17th. FSU’s remaining road games are at Louisville, Miami and Syracuse. The game against the Orange will be on Thursday night November 19th.
Florida State’s final ACC home game will be with Boston College on the previous Saturday, November 14th.
As part of the ACC schedule release, UCF learned that they will be playing Friday night September 4th in their home opener with North Carolina. That game to be televised nationally by ESPN.
The Knights already knew that they would be playing Georgia Tech in the pre-conference schedule on September 19th in Atlanta.
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