Here’s what we know for sure: Jameis Winston has been suspended for the fist half of Florida State’s showdown with No. 22 Clemson on Saturday, and backup Sean Maguire will start in his stead.
Here’s what we don’t know: whether Clemson can actually take advantage of it.
“They can, but they’re going to have to do things on defense that they didn’t show last year,” FOX Sports college football analyst Charles Davis said on The Morning Show, referring to Florida State’s 51-14 beatdown in Memorial Stadium. “Last year was just an absolute whopping. That game was over (from the start). The best part of that game was the tremendous open that ESPN did. That may have been the best open to a game I’ve ever seen. It was terrific. And then the game started and you’re like, ‘Okay, what else are we doing here tonight?’”
If the Tigers hope to have any chance of winning Saturday, they’ll need a monster performance from All-American defensive end Vic Beasley.
“Vic Beasley is one of the better pass rushers in the country,” Davis said. “Last year, he had two tackles in the game, no pressures, no sacks. That’s got to change. That has to change in a big way for them.”
Especially against a backup quarterback. But even though Maguire is just biding time for Winston, Davis expects every Seminole to rise to the occasion at 8 p.m. ET.
“Personally, I think Florida State will actually be a little bit more galvanized by the suspension of Winston,” he said. “Because whether you like it or not, whether you think it’s affecting you or not, if everything is centered on one player on your team, there’s a natural (feeling) like, ‘Hey, you know, we can play, too. We’re okay, too.’ I think they’re going to rally around this new quarterback and play pretty well in this game.”
Another intriguing game – at least we think – will unfold a few hours earlier, when Florida (2-0) plays Alabama (3-0) at Bryant-Denny Stadium at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Gators entered the season with a lot of hype but haven’t looked very impressive thus far. Yes, they beat Eastern Michigan, 65-0, in their season-opener, but they also needed three overtimes to survive Kentucky, 36-30.
“When the season started, I was one of those big mouths that said, ‘Hey, you better look out for Florida. Don’t count out the Gators,’” Davis said. “And what they did with Kentucky made me take a step back and go, ‘Uh-oh.’ Now, I know Kentucky’s improved. I know they’ve added recruiting. (But) that game was at Florida. Let’s see what you really have. Three overtimes with (Kentucky) doesn’t bode well (for this Saturday). They got to get off to the proverbial fast start in this game.”
If they do, it’ll likely be because junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is running Florida’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense with aplomb.
“It drives (Alabama) crazy,” Davis said of the no-huddle offense. “Coach Saban, Kirby Smart – they like having control from the defensive side. They want to stand on the sideline, see what you run and then match accordingly. Well, if you stay out there with 11 guys and run your hybrid offense and you never substitute, that drives those defensive coaches bananas because they can’t get in the personnel they want. So when you hear a lot of coaches talk about (how) up-tempo (is) not good for the game (and they’re) worried about the kids – blah, blah, blah – what they’re really telling you is, ‘I don’t get a chance to match the way I want to, and that ticks me off.’”Comments