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Florida State Not the Only Team Facing the Pressure on Saturday

This week much is being made about Florida State's ability to handle the hype and atmosphere of a top ten matchup. But the Seminoles aren't the only team working on this sort of thing.

Clemson has a few issues of its own.

It's easy to point to losses to South Carolina and in the Orange Bowl to West Virginia last year as evidence of Clemson's struggles, but here's an interesting statistic to show just how dramatically different Clemson was at home in Death Valley (where they dealt FSU a 35-30 loss) versus on the road.

At home quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 2,738 yards, 26 touchdowns and just five interceptions. On the road in 2011, he was a much different quarterback. Boyd completed 8 percent fewer passes (62.6-54.3) for about two yards less per attempt and had seven touchdowns and seven picks. 

That's a marked difference between playing at home and on the road. 

Andre Ellington, Clemson's talented senior tailback is another guy who thrived at home, rushing for 832 yards and 8 touchdowns, but on the road he managed just three scores and 346 yards.

Obviously that's not a complete picture, last year's team (as Jimbo likes to point out) is gone. Clemson also played more home games, so they had more chances to generate stats, a lot of Ellington's deficiencies can be explained by fewer carries because the team was behind, his average is still above five yards on the road (actually improved 5.2 to 5.6).

Regardless of the factors though, last year Clemson's offense as a whole averaged about 135 fewer yards per game on the road and ten fewer points. The Tigers hope an improved defense will mitigate some of those issues, but Florida State is not the only team with something to prove in this game, there's pressure on Clemson to prove they can win both on the road and in a national setting. 

Last season the Tigers dropped their final three road dates (that doesn't include the 77-30 neutral site beating they took in the Orange Bowl) and finished just 2-3 on the season in road games, their lone wins coming at Virginia Tech and at Maryland. 

Florida State has been preparing all week for the Clemson offense, Jameis Winston and Jacob Coker have been playing the role of Tajh Boyd on the scout team while Marvin Bracy plays Sammy Watkins. Clemson brings a potent attack, the Seminoles found out first hand how potent last season in Death Valley.

The key will be this season, at Doak Campbell, whether the same Tiger offense that dominates at home comes to play, or if the Clemson team that struggled to move the ball on the road is back.

I'll be interested to ask Dabo Swinney during the ACC Teleconference tomorrow how Clemson is preparing for the atmosphere themselves. Doak Campbell Stadium should be rocking Saturday night and that means Clemson will be in for a loud evening if the FSU student section brings the noise.

And I imagine they will.

Either way, the pressure is on Saturday, but not exclusively on Florida State. Clemson has just as many questions to answer.




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