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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Head To Head Matchup: Running Backs

    There's some good news and bad news for the Noles this week. The good news is that the Noles don't face a triple option offense. The bad news is that they do face a running back duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller who are known as "Thunder and Lightning".

    Clemson running back C.J. Spiller against Boston College this past Saturday despite being told not to play by the team trainers helped the Tigers beat BC for the first time in six tries since 1958. Spiller was named the ACC offensive back of the week as he had 242 all-purpose yards to lead the way in Clemson's 27-21 win over Boston College. The junior had six receptions out of the backfield for 105 yards, a Clemson record for reception yards by a running back in a single game.

    Spiller also had 8 carries for 55yards, a 64-yard kickoff return that changed the momentum of the game in the fourth period and led to Clemson's winning touchdown. He also added an 18-yard punt return. His 242 all-purpose running yards were the 11th most in Clemson history and the fourth most by a Clemson player in the 21st century.

    The other half of the running back duo, James Davis, had 52 yards rushing and 1 TD.

    For the year, 5-11/190 pound C.J. Spiller has rushed for 369 yards and 5 TDs. The junior who hails from Florida is averaging 6.6 yards a carry for the season. The Nole defense will also have to contend with Spiller who has caught the ball for 216 yards and 1 TD. Senior running back James Davis leads the team in rushing yards with 478 yards and 6 TDs.

    In rushing offense, Clemson ranks #8 in the ACC in rushing offense averaging 123 yards a game and scoring 15 TDs for the season. James Davis is the 10th leading rusher in the ACC averaging almost 60 yards a game and scoring 6 TDs on the season. CJ. Spiller is at number 13 averaging almost 53 yards a game and scoring 5 TDs.

    Clemson ranks fourth in the ACC in allowing tackles for a loss so their offensive line has been pretty good. This is also illustrated in the fact that Clemson ranks #2 in least number of sacks allowed.

    Defensive matchup: The Nole defense will not have the triple option to contend with against Clemson but they will have two very talented backs to defend. Let's hope the defense got a wake up call from the Tech debacle and will be primed to assert themselves this Saturday.

    The Noles are ranked #1 in the ACC in rushing defense allowing 106 yards a game and giving up 7 TDs on the ground. It is probably safe to say that the Noles will try and stuff the run and make Clemson one dimensional.

    The Noles have two players in the top 5 in the ACC in tackles for a loss. Defensive end Everette Brown is ranked #2 with 11 tackles for a loss and linebacker Derek Nicholson is at #5 with 9 tackles for a loss.

    The Noles rank midway in the ACC in recovering fumbles by their opponents. Saturday's game may be determined by the team that makes the least number of mistakes. The Nole defense needs to improve on the turnover margin and make some plays that will give them momentum. Currently FSU is next to last in turnover margin.

    For the Noles. it is expected that Antone Smith will be the primary ball carrier. Smith was not that productive against Tech rushing for only 35 yards and 0 TDs. Smith was nursing some injuries from the Va. Tech game so was not at full speed. As Bobby Bowden has stated, Smith is beginning to get beat up. The star of the Ga. Tech game was Jermaine Thomas who carried the ball 9 times for 130 yards.

    Smith has rushed for 575 yards and 11 TDs on the season and is the fourth leading rusher in the ACC. He is averaging almost 5 yards per carry.

    If Smith is not 100% or cannot go on Saturday, the Noles will look to Jermaine Thomas. Thomas is the second leading rusher for the Noles having rushed for 343 yards and 2 TDs. He is averaging over 8 yards a carry. The Noles rank #2 in the ACC in rushing offense averaging 194 yards a game and scoring 18 TDs on the ground.

    FSU ranks #8 in tackles allowed and also ranks #6 in sacks allowed. It will be important for the offensive line to hold up and allow FSU to establish the run.

    Defensive matchup: The Noles will be facing a Clemson defense that is ranked #8 in the ACC allowing almost 133 yards on the ground but only giving up 4 TDs on the ground.Clemson has allowed the fewest TDs on the ground than any other team in the ACC. Clemson's linebacker Kavell Conner is #9 in the ACC with 66 tackles.

    Clemson like FSU has not been that opportunistic so far in the season in converting turnovers.They are at the bottom in turnover margin. One of the keys to the game on Saturday will probably be which defense can make some key plays and turnovers.

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