NC State Wolfpack vs. Clemson Tigers
Time: 3:30 PM
Location: A DEAFENING, All Red, Carter-Finley Stadium
Line: Clemson -10
You know expectations are set high when a team has gone to six-straight CFB Playoffs (winning two) and folks are panicking about a 2-1 start.
The loss to Georgia stung, seeing as the Tigers could only muster 3 points on 180 total yards. Then two weeks later, at home, they struggled again versus Georgia Tech. While they won that contest 14-8, they needed a 4th-and-goal stop to clinch it.
Two standouts on this team; Defense and Will Shipley.
This defense is great. Top-20 in just about every metric, with the main highlighted fact being that they haven’t given up a touchdown this season. What we see most is an aggressive defense that finishes plays. When a running back hits the hole, there are going to be five Tigers on him by the time the whistle blows. They pride themselves on fundamentals and finding opportune times for a turnover or sack. This isn’t to say, however, that they are invincible…but we’ll get to that later.
Will Shipley has stepped in and immediately preformed. Tied for third in the ACC for rushing touchdowns and top-12 in rushing yards. Making it more impressive, is he only had four rushing attempts versus Georgia and eight against SC State. He’s poised to have an EXCELLENT college career.
Clemson quarterback, DJ Uialgalelei, has struggled this year, something we previewed earlier in the week. Under 60% completion percentage with more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1). His accuracy has been less than ideal for the Tigers, who are starting to at least look if the panic button is in the house.
Keys to Winning for the Wolfpack
- Balanced Offensive Attack – We said Clemson has a great defense…and they do…but it’s not mind-blowing, State has no chance, great. There will be series that are three-and-out for the Pack. There will be at least a turnover in there, as well. The key is simple, can State find enough yards on the ground to open up for Leary to throw. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Bam go for 70 yards and a touchdown. The question will be can Leary make his reads and throw a clean ball?And just going to get this out of the way; Please no cute trick plays…Please get points every redzone trip…Please no 50/50 balls, Leary…Don’t overthink, just do.
- Don’t Let DJ Uialgalelei Breakout – Shipley is solid and he’ll get his yards, but don’t think he will be the sole reason is State loses. We have all the confidence in the world that State will put up more points than 10, call us crazy, but we believe. But State has struggled to put pressure on opposing QBs and giving time to DJ is asking for trouble. Wolfpack LBs and secondary are solid, but the dam can only hold for so long. Get DJ out of the pocket to force him to run and throw, and his accuracy drops dramatically. If he wants two or three yards rushing, fine…Just stay on him and continue to push into the backfield.
- BE LOUD AND BELIEVE – This is State’s chance to slay the dragon. Through two home games, the entire team has had swagger and energy and that can’t change now. If you want to beat the best, you have to believe that you can. Not to make this an emotional, “Rah, Rah” moment, but so often State seems like they either come out guns a blazing or they are flatter than flat. Can’t have anything in between and sure as hell can’t have the latter. Run the ball, make the catches, be opportunistic on defense, let’s steal this game. You know without a doubt, that Red Sea will be roaring today.
Really do think that this will be a close game. With the line currently at -10 Clemson, would take State. The O/U is at 47.5 and still think there are moments of this first half that just aren’t pretty…and thus, would take the under.
Let’s make some noise in the ACC. #GoPack