The Florida State passing attack was far and away the bright spot in a 35-30 loss to the Clemson Tigers.
Redshirt freshman Clint Trickett, making his first career start for the injured EJ Manuel, played better than you could of asked. He finished the game 24 of 38 for 336 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
His main target once again was Rashad Greene, who had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown for the fourth straight game.
Trickett was also able to connect with junior wideout Rodney Smith four times for 118 yards, including a 57-yard score/
Bert Reed (ankle) and Willie Haulstead (concussion) were unable to play leaving it up to the young receivers to carry the load. Christian Green had seven catches for 77 yards, and Kenny Shaw had two catches for 20 yards and a touchdown.
Overall passing game grade: A
The passing game kept FSU in the game all afternoon long. Once again there was no running game to fall back on, so it was put on Trickett's shoulders and the offense racked up 336 yards passing, averaging 14 yards per completion.
Top Performer: Clint Trickett
Making your first start in a hostile environment is no easy task, but the young signal caller seemed calm and composed much of the game. He did have one interception and a few mistakes here and there, but overall you couldn't have asked for much more than what Trickett gave you.
Four weeks into the season and FSU has yet to show signs of any semblance of a rushing attack.
The Seminoles managed just 29 yards rushing against the Tigers, averaging an abysmal 1.9 yards per carry.
Jimbo Fisher tried to spark things in the running game with a wildcat package that featured direct snaps to Chris Thompson.
Thompson rushed for 13 yards on the opening play, the longest run of the day for FSU. With no real threat for Thompson to throw, and nobody coming from the wing in motion, the package failed to net any big gains.
Thompson was the lone pack to carry the ball, rushing it 11 times for 36 yards, an average of 3.3 yards per carry.
Overall running game grade: F
FSU avoided a failing grade last week due to the fact that the rushing total was brought down due to the number of sacks Trickett took in the second half. This week he was sacked just twice for a loss of 14 yards. Coming into the game Clemson was allowing 224.7 yards per game on the ground, FSU managed just 29.
Top performer: Chris Thompson
While there was no real top performer, Thompson takes the award for the way he handled himself after the game. He took the blame for the lack of big plays, saying he had to hit the holes better, and make his reads quicker. Thompson took the blame for the running game, when I think everyone knows it has nothing to do with who's running the ball.
Saturday was by the defense's worst performance of the season. The front seven had an OK day. Clemson rushed for 111 yards, but on 49 carries, averaging just 2.3 yards per rush.
Tigers' QB Tajh Boyd felt hardly any pressure until the second half when he was sacked twice. Once by Brandon Jenkins (three tackles, one sack) and by Cornelius Carradine (five tackles, one sack).
Defensive end Bjoern Werner did come up with big play for the defense. Boyd was pressured by linebacker Christian Jones and tried to throw it away before hitting the ground, instead his pass went straight up in the air into Werner's hands for an interception he returned 25 yards for a touchdown.
Overall front seven grade: C+
Clemson was able to convert on third-and-long a number of times as Boyd wasn't pressured much. While the Tigers didn't run the ball with a ton of success, they were able to pick up yards on the ground when they needed them.
Top performer: Christian Jones
Jones finished the game with seven tackles, four solo, and 0.5 a tackle for loss. It was his pressure of Boyd that setup Werner's touchdown.
Last week the secondary did a great job keeping the up-tempo Sooners in check. Against Clemson they didn't fare as well.
Boyd was 23 of 37 for 344 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
His main target was super freshman Sammy Watkins who hauled in eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Clemson averaged 15 yards per catch, as Boyd connected on passes of 62, 50, and 34 yards. FSU was flagged three times for pass interference.
It was not a highlight day for corners Mike Harris and Xavier Rhodes who were both beat deep a number of times.
Safety Terrance Parks finished the game with six tackles, and a pass breakup, which should have been an interception but somehow Parks was unable to come up with it.
Overall secondary grade: F
Boyd and the Tigers passing attack were able to move the ball at will on FSU. Watkins had a 62-yard touchdown, which was a short throw and a product of poor tackling on the outside. Anytime an offense can get 15 yards per completion, it's not a banner day for a defense.
Top performer: Mike Harris
Like the running game it's hard to pick a top performer when a segment gets a failing grade. Harris was beat deep a couple of times but he did settle down in the second half some. He finished the game with 11 tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup. Like Thompson, he showed character by showing up for post game interviews.
Special Teams Grades
Like the defense, the special teams struggled for the first time in 2011 on Saturday.
Twice Lamarcus Joyner was penalized for making contact with the punter. The first time he tired to hold up but still made contact and was penalized five yards for running into the kicker, giving the Tigers the ball back and allowing them to take a 14-3 lead.
Then just before the end of the half Joyner broke through and had a clear shot at the block, instead he inexplicably missed the ball and was flagged 15 yards for roughing the punter.
Shawn Powell had three punts of 50 yards or more in the game, but he did miss-hit a rugby-style punt out of pounds for just a 12-yard kick.
Overall Special Teams grade: C-
Joyner's two penalties along with a 12-yard punt from Powell would have been bad enough, but FSU also had a 72-yard kickoff return by Joyner wiped out on a holding penalty.
Top performer: Dustin Hopkins
In the first quarter Hopkins hit a 32-yard field goal to give him 14 consecutive made field goal attempts. He also recoded five touchbacks on kickoffs.
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