Halftime Analysis: Clemson 21, FSU 14
September, 22, 2012
By David M. Hale | ESPN.com
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Tajh Boyd needed just five plays to solve Florida State's vaunted defense, hitting DeAndre Hopkins with a 60-yard touchdown pass on third down in what set the precedent for a high-scoring first half, with Clemson holding a 21-14 halftime lead.
The two teams combined for 564 yards of offense in the first half, with EJ Manuel carving up the Clemson defense as easily as Boyd moved the Tigers' offense, but two missed field goals and a fumbled punt doomed Florida State through the first 30 minutes.
Stat of the half: 8.1 That's Florida State's average gain per rush in the first half, and it's the Seminoles' best hope for a turnaround in the second half. Manuel and Chris Thompson have done their share of damage on the ground, and Clemson hasn't had an answer. Both of the Seminoles' touchdowns came on the ground, too -- a 13-yard run by Lonnie Pryor and a 5-yard run by James Wilder Jr.
Player of the half: Boyd. The Clemson quarterback was 12-of-17 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, including the 60-yard bomb to Hopkins on the Tigers' opening drive that quieted a raucous crowd. Boyd has hit six different receivers in the first half. Manuel nearly matched him -- 15 of 20 for 181 yards -- but two FSU drives stalled thanks to penalties, forcing field-goal tries.
What's working for FSU: Manuel's legs. There's been plenty of room underneath for the FSU offense, and when the big plays haven't developed down field, Manuel has made his mark on the ground, picking up 53 yards on six carries.
What's not working for FSU: Clemson has done its share of damage, which was to be expected. But the self-inflicted wounds are the difference right now for FSU. Dustin Hopkins' two missed field goals, four penalties and, most importantly, Rashad Greene's fumbled punt return have squandered scoring chances and bolstered an already potent Tigers' attack.
Noteworthy: FSU defensive end Cornellius Carradine has two sacks in the first half. ... Clemson's Sammy Watkins has five touches but just 35 yards through the first half. He ha been matched against Nick Waisome and Ronald Darby throughout. ... The 21 first-half points by Clemson snaps a streak of 11 consecutive games in which the FSU defense had held opponents to 19 or fewer points.