FSU Football 2022 Opponent Preview: Clemson
Orlando, Florida, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) drops back to pass in the first half against the Iowa State Cyclones at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

FSU Football 2022 Opponent Preview: Clemson

The Seminoles return home to defend against the Clemson Tigers.

With the season fast approaching, and college football rolling full-steam ahead with current scheduling and formatting, fans are eager to hit the stands and cheer on their favorite team. 2022 is a do-or-die season for Mike Norvell’s tenure at Florida State. While there was much to be proud of in FSU’s 2021 campaign, the 0-4 record, including a shocking loss to Jacksonville State, has left many speculating whether Norvell is the man for the job. Winning more than 6 games this season might be what it takes to demonstrate that the CLIMB is more than just rhetoric on Norvell’s part. To generate a buzz and momentum on the trail, the Seminoles must showcase their growth in wins this season.

It’s now or never; for the Seminole faithful, it’s time to preview our upcoming season’s opponents.

Game Seven: Clemson

Head Coach: Dabo Swinney (HC Record 150–36)

Mascot: Tiger

Conference: ACC

2021 Record: 10–3

History vs Florida State: 

The two titans of the ACC, Florida State and Clemson’s rivalry isn’t as long-tenured as some might expect. Kicking off for the first time in 1970, the Seminoles drew first blood in their win against the Tigers in Tallahassee. Prior to joining the ACC in 1992, the two teams played each other four more times, splitting the series 2-2 (ironically, the road team always won in this stretch). Then, from 1992 through 2002, the Seminoles dominated their new conference foe on an 11-0 run. Between 2003 – 2009, the final years of the Bobby Bowden era saw a seven-year stretch where the Tigers went 7-2. During the Jimbo Fisher era, the Seminoles and Tigers maintained a steady tie in the series, splitting 4-4. The Willie Taggart era was outright domination on the part of the Tigers, going 2-0 in his brief tenure and overseeing the biggest blowout by the Tigers in the series, 59-10 in 2018. Due to COVID-19, the Seminoles and Tigers did not play one another in 2020, so Mike Norvell finds himself 0-1 against the Tigers as of last year, losing 20-30 to Dabo and his squad.

Clemson Storylines to Follow

Wait, a NOT Transcendent Atlantic QB!?

If we’re going by current standards at Clemson, you could certainly make the case that D.J. Uiagalelei did not elevate the offense he was leading this past season. While you could also make a case that much of the talent surrounding him either was incapacitated due to injury or didn’t step up to the talent level they were touted at, it stands to reason that big-time players make big-time plays when the moment comes. Uiagalelei did not do that in those moments, and against inferior competition. Clemson went 10-3 in 2021, and I can confirm as a fan of Florida State I am salivating at the thought of achieving that W-L record in 2022. But there should never be a reason why, in the Atlantic Division, a program like Wake Forest wins out over other, more talent-laden programs like Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Louisville, etc.

Much of that is owed to the offense operating at sub-par levels this past season at Clemson. Therefore, much of those responsibilities fall under the caller under center.

New Coordinators, Same Dabo

Not everything, though, falls on the Quarterback. One could also take a hard look at the coaching along the sidelines at Clemson. In 2022, the sidelines will look dramatically different thanks to the departures of defensive coordinator Brent Venables and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. Tony Elliott was the sole OC only for two seasons (2020 and 2021) and maintained a co-OC position from 2015-2019. During this run, Elliott was considered the primary play caller, which oversaw an era where Clemson won two national championships. Similarly, Brent Venables served as the DC at Clemson from 2012-2021, where he oversaw defenses that perennially ended their seasons in the top ten in the entire nation.

Electing to promote from within, Brandon Streeter was named the OC (formerly an OC at Richmond and Liberty Universities), while DC is a shared co-title between Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn. Unquestionably, the value of losing experienced leadership at both coordinator positions will have an impact on the play calling in 2022. The degree to which it will have an impact (let alone defensive signal calling being shared amongst two individuals) remains to be seen.

Back to the Norm?

It’s tough to say whether there can be a return to any normalcy at Clemson with tenured signal callers along both sides of the wall heading to head coaching opportunities elsewhere. But undoubtedly, the recruiting momentum at Clemson remains intact, and the talent on the roster is unquestioned. Returning 72% of their production from last season’s team, with more than half of their starters returning on both sides of the ball, Clemson stands to rebound after their disappointing 2021 campaign. Clemson has some top talent who have departed, such as wide receiver Justyn Ross, linebacker James Skalski and cornerbacks Andrew Booth and Mario Goodrich. But their entire two-deep along the defensive line is returning while returning four starters along the offensive line. Their running back trio also returns, along with their starting tight end and four of their five best wide receivers.

If Clemson doesn’t hit their expectations in 2022, it won’t be because of a lack of talent on the field.

Gameday Details

Florida State and Clemson will play at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday, October 15th, 2022. The game broadcast and time are still TBD. Tickets can be purchased directly from Seminoles.com.

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-Ed Kennedy