We could meet and argue in a board room all weekend long about how Saturday’s game between Clemson and Florida State was handled and point fingers at who should carry the blame.
At the end of the day though, it just doesn’t matter who should be blamed for the decision for the teams not playing this weekend. Furthermore and in my humble opinion, Florida State did Clemson a solid by opting to not compete in the high noon tilt against the Tigers.
The shorthanded Florida State Seminoles have endured their share of injuries, Covid-19 cases, and opt-outs. It appeared quite certain they were in for a long game against the well-rested Tigers as evidenced by the 30+spread tagged on the rivalry game.
Florida State’s (2-6) refusal to be flexible and work with Dabo Swinney and Clemson’s (7-1) offer to play as late as Monday could be a blessing in disguise. Truth be told, it isn’t a good look for Mike Norvell’s team in his underwhelming debut in Tallahassee.
There’s no secret an extra week of rest could pay dividends for a Clemson squad that had to dig deep down the depth chart down the stretch in a double-overtime loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 7.
With Trevor Lawrence and others expected to return to action after last week’s open date, it felt like the Tigers had the opportunity to be as close to full strength as they’ve been in several games for the trip to Doak Campbell Stadium. Unfortunately, the Heisman trophy candidate will have to wait yet another week before reclaiming his spot under center.
Make no mistake about it. Clemson doesn’t need this game against Florida State. After shelling out $300,000 for the trip to Tallahassee you can hardly blame the folks in Tigertown for being uninterested in returning to Florida State in a few weeks just seven days before a presumed rematch with Notre Dame in the ACC title game.
So instead of the Tigers running up the score against a tail-spinning and shorthanded Seminole team and playing the risk of even more injuries, they can return to Clemson to refocus and continue getting healthy.
That means becoming one step closer to a healthy Tyler Davis, Mike Jones Jr., James Skalski, Lannden Zanders, and Nolan Turner among others. If the Tigers truly want to make another playoff run, they have to get those guys back to 100 percent.
Swinney announced on Wednesday night Skalski and Frank Ladson were the only two that were ‘for sure’ not going to be available but that the others all had the chance to be back on Saturday.
The tab on traveling to Tallahassee and having the opportunity to play snagged away at the last minute is–and should be–infuriating for all who made the trip. But it could end up being in the Tigers’ best interest in the big picture of the next few weeks.
Clemson and Florida State is not what it once was and while that now could mean the Tigers have to wait until 2021 to extend the winning streaks over both South Carolina (winners of the last six in series) and Florida State (winners of the last five in series) it leans towards a healthier team for the Tigers’ annual ‘Championship Phase’
With only two games with certainty left on the schedule, the Tigers also now have the opportunity to continue correcting issues exposed in the loss at Notre Dame and the week prior in the win over Boston College.
After a visit from Pittsburgh (4-4) next weekend, the Tigers will hit the road for a trip to Blacksburg to face the Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4) in what was originally set as the regular-season finale for Clemson. It remains to be seen if the Tigers will face the Seminoles in the open slot of December 12 which is one week before the ACC Championship in Charlotte.
It’s incredibly frustrating for all involved but now that the kneejerk reactions have expired, it’s time we sit back and acknowledge that this could end up being more of a benefit for Clemson than it seemed at 9 a.m. Saturday morning.