Clemson 30 NCST 20 : The Good…The Bad…The Ugly

Good, Bad, Ugly

The #10 NC State Wolfpack came to town, convinced last year was not a fluke but a new trend. They went home last night with their tails firmly between their legs. No cigars for Dave Durren. No red solo cups. No celebration.

The #5 Clemson Tigers finally put a complete four quarters together with focus, determination and execution. The fans and media see the final score of 30-20 and might think it was close. It wasn’t really. With the score 30-13 with a little under 4 minutes to go in the game, the Wolfpack got a garbage time touchdown to bring it within 10.

Make no bones about it, the Clemson defense was very GOOD against Devin Leary and the Wolfpack offense. On their two touchdown drives, the NC State offense ran 17 plays for 150 yards. The rest of the night? 52 plays for 129 yards. Yes, Leary threw for 245 yards, completing 28 of 48 passes, one touchdown and one Toriano Pride interception. These numbers were very similar to last year’s numbers. The difference? The Clemson defense shut down the State running game, allowing only 34 yards on 21 rushes. Another big difference from last year? QB DJ Uiagalelei is not the same QB he was last year, thus the Tigers had a more potent offense.

Last year, DJ completed 12 of 26 passes for 111 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. This year? He had 209 yards passing on 21 of 30 (70%) passing, a touchdown and two rushing touchdowns. This isn’t a Heisman moment, but he was GOOD last night and gaining more and more confidence every game.

For the 5th game in a row, this Clemson offensive line led the way on offense, controlling the trenches and played as a complete unit. Walker Parks missed a few snaps in the 2nd half due to what appeared to be slight ankle injury but he returned to finish out the game.

The WR group continues to shine, and let’s include the Tight Ends. OC Brandon Streeter and Asst Coach Kyle Richardson has discovered that using two Tight End sets with Davis Allen and Jake Briningstool can pay big dividends. Against Wake Forest, this talented pair hauled in 10 receptions for 107 yards and three touchdowns. Against NC State, the duo combined for eight more receptions, 75 yards and another touchdown (Briningstool). Over two games, that’s 18 receptions for 182 yards and four touchdowns. Great move by the coaching staff to employ the 2-TE sets and thusly, bringing the middle of the field into play.

Too many fans on social media LOVE to put down “coaches sons” when it comes to Clemson with the Venables and Swinney boys. Leading tackler against NC State? Tyler Venables led the Tigers in tackles with eight total tackles, six being of the solo variety. Barrett Carter had a night, registering 6 tackles with a sack and a tackle for loss, but this man was flying all over the field. With Bryan Bresee and Xavier Thomas out of action again, the defensive line showed the depth that coaches have been talking about all year. Myles Murphy, Tyler Davis, KJ Henry and Ruk Orhorhoro harassed Leary all night long, and didn’t make life easy for the NC State offense. You have to give DC Wes Goodwin and the entire defensive staff a pat on the back for a job well done in coaching the mistakes from last week.

Last week against Wake Forest, the Tigers committed season high 10 penalties for 120 yards. This total included several Pass Interference penalties. Against NC State, once again, the Tigers committed another 10 penalties for 91 yards. 20 penalties in two weeks are BAD BAD. No one knows this more than the coaches and the players. Admittedly, coaches will tell you penalties of aggression are going to happen, but penalties from lack of focus are on them. This will be an area of attention this week in practice.

The officiating left a lot to be desired. S Andrew Mukuba was ejected for the game in the 2nd quarter, flagged for targeting. This was nothing more than hard tackling. There was no helmet to helmet contact, there was no launching, there was no malice intended. It was a collision between two players that resulted in Mukuba being put on the bench for the rest of the game. ACC officials appear more and more to want to make a difference in games. It could be that I am looking at it through Orange-shaded glasses but that was an UGLY bit of officiating.

It was refreshing this week to have the GOOD part of this article vastly overshadowing the Bad and Ugly.

The Tigers play three of their next four games on the road, starting with Boston College next week. BC, fresh off a victory over Louisville, will look to end the Tigers 11-game winning streak, longest in the NCAA.

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