Incredible, simply, incredible.
In a stage of Doeren’s career, and the program as a whole, when a win was necessary, the boys got it done. After owning much of the game, double-overtime was needed for the 27-21 victory at Carter-Finley. We now present this week’s six biggest takeaways.
1) “Can I speak to your (play) manager please?”
No denying that this was big for Doeren and staff. The team was absolutely ready for the challenge and I don’t think there was a single person that watched that game that didn’t think State was the better team. They moved the ball on offense, while playing about as well on defense as they could have…but…I cringe thinking about some of State’s play calling.
It was noted all week about how Doeren and Beck wanted players to stop overthinking and just play. I mean, RG3 and ESPN brought it up roughly 63 times Saturday afternoon. But it wasn’t the players that were overthinking, it seemed to be more so the coaches.
Clemson defense, especially in the 1st quarter with everyone healthy, was FAST. Multiple guys pursuing the ball, gang tackling, they were everywhere. Yet, we seemed to continually run screens or long developing plays. The hot potato Leary fumble literally jeopardized my TV’s life. Luckily, I threw the remote like Uiagalelei and it sailed over top by two feet.
Clemson gave State all the simple 6-8 yard, middle of the field throws they wanted. The running game was doing enough to keep Clemson linebackers and secondary honest. But we continually tried to add flair, when straightforward (honestly, more like last year) football would have gotten the job done better. Even the clock management to end the half was bad. Felt like we were playing for the winning field goal, not trying to get points on the board heading into half. Which leads to…
2) Let’s talk about the kickers
There is nothing that makes me shake my head and sigh more, than the 50-year-old dude sitting at home tweeting how certain players “should go practice more.” Dunn had a rough day, but can’t help to think that he wasn’t necessarily put in the best spots. State took their sweet old time closing out the second half to get to the 40? We couldn’t have gotten in better position by keeping the offense up-tempo? 53 yarder? Then to come back with a 51 attempt…the pressure and demons were next level for the final kick.
I believe in Dunn, but he needs to get some chip shots in next week and regroup mentally. Just one of those days, 50 yarders weren’t happening. Just look around the NCAA and realize that’s more the normal than the exception, by the way.
In brighter news, Trenton Gill was an absolute BEAST. Six punts averaging 51 and single-handedly (paired with excellent coverage) completely changed fields three separate times.
Thus concludes the most I’ve every talked about kickers.
3) Defense giving me all those good-good feels
I believe I’ve said this every week, but the defense is just awesome. Gives up 14 points in regulation, while for the game, only allowed 214 total yards. Even on the first touchdown, it was just one of those plays. They got Uiagalelei out of the pocket, throwing off balance and he hits a dime to Ross. *Shrug*
They more than held their own with seven QB hurries, five tackles for loss and a Drake Thomas INT. Kudos to Doeren and company for picking up multiple FSU studs, as Durden had an absolute beaut of a game on the inside of that D-line. By the way, continue to play that man.
Shipley wasn’t a factor. Uiagalelei never really looked comfortable. State forced SEVEN STRAIGHT possessions of 3-and-outs or turnovers. If you told that to WPN two weeks ago, they would have laughed at you for even thinking that was plausible.
Few slip ups, but ultimately, State is an ACC contender if this defense can continue to play strong from line through secondary.
4) Emezie added to his NFL scouting tape
When rumors came out that Emezie was returning to Raleigh, I thought it was slightly crazy. Thought he could find a spot on a team somewhere in the NFL and start working his way up.
Fourteen receptions, a touchdown and 116 yards later, he filled the highlight reel some more. The touchdown grab was incredible; pinning the ball to his facemask with one hand without a single ounce of a bobble. Felt like he could have done whatever he wanted, chipping away 8 yards a touch.
Through a third of the season, he’s already halfway to a career high in receptions. The touchdowns will come this season, just hard sharing feeds with legitimate playmakers up and down this lineup.
5) Leary shuts down the critics
Wrote and article about one of these QBs needing to step up and be the difference maker…the answer was Leary.
His accuracy was the best of the season. Four touchdowns and no interceptions. Moved up in the pocket nicely and only had a few “I wouldn’t try that again” moments. The deep balls were much better, missing two touchdowns by just a few inches. The progression has been really, really fun to watch.
The last major piece to the puzzle is looking off secondaries. Sometimes he gets ultra locked in on the first receiver and it’s only a matter of time before routes get jumped. If he can continue to work through reads and know that he may come right back to route #1, he’ll be the starter for a long time. State needed everything out of him and he was the perfect game manager Saturday.
6) Program shift, but not complete change…yet
I wrote a week ago about how this game was going to be seen as a lose-lose for some in WPN, in terms of Doeren opinions. So, so, so glad Doeren was able to get the monkey off his back, but the pressure will only continue from here.
The ACC is just not there this year. Wake Forest and Boston College the best of the group? Come on State, now is the time. Looking ahead, but not toooooo far, the schedule is nice if this team can preform to their potential. Couple of weeks from playing 3 of 4 on the road. Have to prove that Miss State game was a fluke of all flukes.
I will say, makes me nervous that Doeren called the curse done. The curse wasn’t beating a top-10 team (and there is no way Clemson gets back in that position this year), the curse was sustaining success even after slaying a dragon. Last time we beat a top-10 team, it was at home versus #3 FSU in 2012. What did we do after that game? Dropped 4 of 7, including a sad, sad game against Virginia and a bowl loss to…ready?…Vandy.
The program took a step forward, but the job isn’t done yet. Continue to stay focused and don’t overthink it. *wink*