Home Behind Enemy Lines: 2021 FSU-Clemson

Behind Enemy Lines: 2021 FSU-Clemson

by Jacob Bunting

Photo credit: Mitch White/Florida State athletics

Florida State is hoping to earn a signature win on Saturday as it takes on Clemson in Death Valley.

The Tigers, on the other hand, are hoping FSU will be a get-right game.

Both teams have had disappointing seasons thus far. FSU is 3-4 through its first seven games, while Clemson is 4-3.

Fifth Quarter FSU sat down with FQ Clemson to ask some questions in order to get some perspective from the opposition:

FQ FSU: It seems like there’s a midseason quarterback battle brewing in Clemson. Does D.J. Uiagalelei or Taisun Phommachanh start this week? Who would you prefer gets the start?

FQ Clemson: It’s hard to say who you want running an anemic offense. Yes, D.J. [Uiagalelei] was a former No. 1 recruit and has a ceiling that touches the stars. But Taisun [Phommachanh] has been in the system for some time now and it’s clear he can make the right reads.

I think we’re at the point in the season where we need to be able to lean more on the run read options, so I’d like Taisun to get the nod. Uiagalelei has struggled to make the reads all season, and it was clear when Taisun came in late against Pittsburgh that it was a new offense: his offense.

FQ FSU: Despite the offensive struggles, Clemson’s defense is still in the top five. Do you think FSU moves the ball against Brent Venables’ unit? If so, how?

FQ Clemson: In both of Clemson’s in-conference losses, we saw masterful performances in the passing game. The fact of the matter is FSU is in such a limbo in terms of offensive identity and talent that I don’t think they will be much of a test for Clemson’s pass defense.

I think at the end of the day, FSU will not see any form of consistency throughout this game. They might be able to put together a good drive one moment, but go three-and-out the next.

FQ FSU: The Tigers seem to be reeling and FSU is building momentum, but Clemson hasn’t lost a home game since 2016. What is the general feeling among the fan base about this game?

FQ Clemson: The commonality in Tiger Town is “FSU is a dumpster fire.” The Seminoles have gained momentum as of late, but what happens when they meet an immovable force? All momentum comes to a stop. Clemson has the talent and coaching to win at the highest level; their struggles all lie on fundamentals and discipline.

Limit the drops and the penalties and Clemson is 6-1. I, and the majority of the Clemson family, have faith in our boys.

FQ FSU: Who should we be looking out for on offense and defense?

FQ Clemson: Clemson’s defense has seen the same guys shine all season long. A guy you should keep an eye on is No. 8, defensive tackle Tre Williams. Tre has taken over for the injured Bryan Bresee and hasn’t missed a beat. He’s matching Bresee’s production on almost all fronts and has the size to be the next Dexter Lawrence.

Offensively, I’d keep an eye on offensive tackle Walter Parks and running back Phil Mafah. Mafah is a guy running backs coach [C.J.] Spiller loves. He has the size of a between-the-tackles runner with the elusiveness of a wideout. Mafah shows a lot of what Travis [Etienne] had, except he already has the size as a freshman.

Walter Parks is a guy on the offensive line who was expected to have a big season but has underperformed. With the loss of team captain and fellow offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst, I’d like to see Parks step into that leadership role.

FQ FSU: What’s your score prediction for this game? Why?

FQ Clemson: Clemson wins 24-10. I think Saturday’s contest is a low-scoring affair, but in reality, it will be a one-way competition. The Clemson offense moves the ball some, but mostly, they take advantage of Brent Venables and [James] Skalski leading that elite defense.