On October 15, 2016, NC State was better than Clemson. They just were. Dave Doeren and his staff had a perfect gameplan to attack both Clemson’s offense and defense. When the Wolfpack were on offense they went after Clemson on the edges and with the short intermediate routes. Basically they worked on weak part of the Clemson defense – the linebackers. There aren’t any Tony Stewarts or Stephone Anthonys back there anymore for Clemson.
The current group for all their toughness and effort lack athleticism, and they aren’t very good in pass coverage. If you can get past Clemson’s front 4, you have a chance to move the ball on them. The Wolfpack had 413 yards of offense, and 285 through the air, 128 on the ground. NC State on defense was opportunistic and aggressive. They clogged up the gaps in the run game, and held Clemson to just 3 yards a carry.
They took away Clemson’s run game, and left the DB’s on an island. They responded by forcing 4 Turnovers. The Wolfpack played loose and they played hard, while Clemson looked tight and lethargic.
Upfront NC State ran the normally stout Clemson into the ground in the 2nd half. NC State had their opportunity. Just 33 yards from an epic upset, NC State kicker Kyle Bambard sent it wide right. Deshaun Watson threw a TD pass in the OT, and the Tiger defense held when NC State was on offense. Game over – Clemson had survived.
What do you make of a game like this? First NC State is really good in the trenches, and that is a rapidly improving team. The win over Notre Dame wasn’t a fluke, and neither was today. If you play NC State at the moment it is going to be a war at the line of scrimmage.
If you are Clemson, there’s a big concern. You were beat at the point of attack, and you were badly out-coached. Wayne Gallman got hurt, and suddenly Clemson looked terribly thin at RB. That was not group that looked like they could make many plays. A BYE week couldn’t come at a better time for the Tigers. There’s a chance to get healthy before Florida State.
The Tigers have to find some sort of consistency. They are still enough pieces for Clemson to make a playoff run, but should consider itself very fortunate to win today.