Clemson Football

From The Field: Thoughts and Fan Shots from NC State

October 23, 2018
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Our trusty intern Brandon Stockdale was on the sidelines this past Saturday for Clemson's 41-7 win over NC State. Here are a few of his thoughts on the game.


There was no luck needed on Saturday as the Tigers routed NC State, 41-7 and won the game in all three phases coming out of the bye week. Saturday’s win over Dave Doeren’s squad was the second-largest margin of victory over a ranked opponent ever in Clemson history. Not only that, but the Tigers now have the edge in the Atlantic division.

“We didn’t win the division but we control our own destiny. We knew the winner of this one was going to be able to say that,” head coach Dabo Swinney said.

Offense is starting to find it’s rhythm

Clemson’s offense avoided the slow start that has plagued them all season, starting things off with a big kick off return from Derion Kendrick, who is beginning to play a bigger role at that position.

Tee Higgins told us after the game that the chemistry between Trevor Lawrence and the receivers is continuing to grow and that was evident on Saturday.

“All of the receivers. We talk every day, tell him where I’m going to be on this route, where he’s going to throw it, where the ball’s going to be. That’s just little things. We just gotta keep building on it,” Higgins said.

Lawrence’s stat line was 26 of 39 for 308 yards and one touchdown, which was a 46-yard strike to Higgins in the second quarter. The connection between Lawrence and Higgins is something special and that will help the entire offense in the second half of the season.

“All of the receivers. We talk every day, tell him where I’m going to be on this route, where he’s going to throw it, where the ball’s going to be. That’s just little things. We just gotta keep building on it,”
- Tee Higgins

Going back and looking at the tape, NC State presented Clemson with multiple guys in the box to defend the run which was bad news for the Wolfpack secondary. The corners were left on islands in one-on-one situations in the passing game. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott was proud of the way Clemson took what NC State gave them. 

“Each week, defenses are going to play you different ways. You want to be able to have the ability to take what they give you and execute so really proud of our guys today, really good start to the second half of the season,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said.

Secondary passes test from Ryan Finley

Clemson’s secondary has come a long way from their performance against Texas A&M. NC State came in leading the ACC in passing yards and the Clemson defense rose up to the challenge, holding NC State to 156 yards through the air, forcing two interceptions by K’Von Wallace and Jalen Williams.

“Our guys need to be recognized when they play well and they did play well today,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.

Isaiah Simmons said the defense heard along with the entire team all the talk about NC State, and they took it personally and threw Finley out of his groove.

“We really wanted to make sure there were no questions after this game on maybe we got away

“We really wanted to make sure there were no questions after this game on maybe we got away with it, they’ve used the words we escaped it. We really wanted to make sure that none of that was even a question.”
- Isaiah Simmons

with it, they’ve used the words we escaped it. We really wanted to make sure that none of that was even a question,” Simmons said.

“This season, he hasn’t really had too much pressure so we wanted to kind of make him feel all the pressure coming in and kind of disrupt his timing because like all quarterbacks, you’re your timing is off, it kind of messes everything up but my thing is he may be one of the best quarterbacks we’ll play all season, depending on who we play but hats off to him. I think he’s a really good quarterback.”

As far as moving forward the rest of the season, Simmons believes improving in the small things will be beneficial.

“I would just say little things like technique, downfield coverage, just making sure I keep my leverage,” Simmons said.

85

No, we’re not talking about Interstate 85 that runs in and out of the Upstate of South Carolina. That’s the number of guys that played in Clemson’s win over NC State, with guys like Xavier Thomas, Justin Foster, Justyn Ross, Nolan Turner and Denzel Johnson seeing action.

Keep in mind this wasn’t a game where you’re playing an FCS school on opening day, these were two undefeated teams battling it out in a critical game in the division.

Dabo Swinney says that playing second and third team guys is probably not something he would’ve had much trust in the past as he does now.

That’s one of our assets this year. We’re a very deep team. We have a lot of guys that deserve to play. A lot of guys that who are functional players meaning, they’re going to play winning football for you,” Swinney said.

Having the ability to play multiple guys provides a competitive edge at practice and it’s beneficial to the growth of the team, which the Tigers are continuing to show.

“Every rep counts. Competition is a wonderful thing and we’ve got a lot of it on this team.”

Looking Ahead

Willie Taggart and the Florida State Seminoles will welcome the Tigers into Tallahassee in a game that may not have the pizazz that it normally does with the Noles only at 4-3, but don’t tell that to Dabo Swinney.

"Another tough one next week, going on the road back to Florida State, that’s not going to be an easy task. We’ve never won down there back to back trips. They’re one of the best programs in college football history so I don’t really care about what their record is, don’t know what they did today. I just know they’re Florida State,” Swinney said.

Clemson and FSU tee it up on Saturday at noon.

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From The Field: Thoughts and Fan Shots from NC State

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