The biggest ACC game of the year for Clemson Football happens this Saturday when the Tigers host the Florida State Seminoles.
I discussed the upcoming contest with Kelvin Hunt of FanSided’s Florida State website, Chop Chat. I also had the chance to pick his brain on how FSU fans view conference realignment.
Rubbing The Rock: What is Jaheim Bell’s status coming into Saturday? He was used by South Carolina in multiple ways, including running back, against the Tigers in 2022. How has he been used by FSU so far this season?
Chop Chat: Bell has been featured in the offense a few times through three games and been productive. He had a big game against Boston College last week, seven receptions 76 yards and one touchdown. He’s scored touchdowns in two of the three games, two receiving and one rushing. He’s hit on a few explosive pass plays, made guys miss in open space and run with physicality. They’ve essentially put him in space and let him work. The rushing touchdown came on a jet sweep against LSU. FSU isn’t going to use him much at running back the way South Carolina did, but it’s possible he could see some action there in goal line packages, even as a decoy since they’ve already shown that facet.
Rubbing The Rock: Keon Coleman has gotten off to a fast start with four touchdowns through the first three games. Johnny Wilson hasn’t found the end zone but has more receiving yards than Coleman. Which one is the No. 1 receiver right now for Jordan Travis? If the Noles need a clutch first down, which receiver is Travis looking for?
Chop Chat: I think Keon Coleman is the No. 1 receiver, but it’s pick your poison with those two. If you double Coleman, Wilson can make you pay (as long as he doesn’t have the drops). If you double Wilson, Coleman can make you pay. Wilson had a decent game against Clemson last year. Then here’s Jaheim Bell and a couple of guys in the slot that haven’t been featured much yet. If FSU needs a clutch first down, Johnny Wilson seems to have that knack, even though he will drop some easy passes now and then.
Rubbing The Rock: The NCAA’s denial of an immediate eligibility waiver for North Carolina’s Tez Walker has gotten a lot of attention. Defensive tackle Darrell Jackson was also denied a waiver. Have there been any more appeals or developments in his case? How has his absence impacted the Seminoles on the defensive line?
Chop Chat: Some politicians wrote letters on behalf of Jackson, but the NCAA pretty much said they made their decision and that’s that. Jackson’s absence hasn’t impacted the Noles since he wasn’t there last year. That’s why the addition of Braden Fiske from the transfer portal was even more crucial in hindsight. However, if Jackson were available, he would add even more depth to an already stacked lineup, and he’s a game-wrecker against the run and can penetrate to collapse the pocket.
Clemson Football and Florida State are the most likely candidates to leave the ACC at some point
Rubbing The Rock: There has been a lot of debate among Clemson fans about which conference is preferable and/or more likely if the Tigers were to exit the ACC: the SEC or Big Ten. What is the pulse of FSU fans on the destination they prefer, and the destination they think is most likely?
Chop Chat: I think most FSU fans would prefer the SEC. The travel would be much easier and would likely guarantee incredibly home game environments every time aside from a team like Vanderbilt. The B1G would be cool too, because there would be some potential monster matchups. I think as long as FSU can get out of the ACC, most FSU fans would jump for joy, but if push came to shove, would choose the SEC.
Rubbing The Rock: Prediction for the game? Florida State is a 2.5-point favorite. What are your keys to the game for the Seminoles to get the win?
Chop Chat: The FSU defense has to get off the field on third down (they had been excellent in this department before the BC game), and must avoid third and long on offense (the offense hasn’t been as successful on early downs this season, but has hit a ton of explosive plays). FSU has to avoid turning the ball over. They will likely need to use Jordan Travis in the run game to spark force Clemson to respect the run, and once that happens, that opens up everything in the passing game. I thought the experience and production returning favored FSU in the preseason, plus Clemson’s got a new QB/OC and it’s only game four, so I’m sure they’re potentially still working out some things. I’m going with FSU finally getting over the hump with a 38-27 victory.