No one has stopped the Clemson offense all year so it’s probably unreasonable to expect that NC State will buck the trend. The Tigers have the weapons to score points in bunches and for the Wolfpack to have any chance to compete they must keep pace.
The good news for NC State is that at times- particularly against Miami, UNC and Wake Forest- they’ve shown they have the potential to put up points. The bad news is they’ve been very inconsistent. In their losses, State has typically gotten off to horrid starts which has forced them to play catch up through out.
Against Clemson, if State’s going to get it done they have to score early, stay in the game and avoid becoming one dimensional. The Tigers have given up just 37 total points in the fourth quarter and much of that is due to the fact that teams have fallen behind and are forced to throw the ball on virtually every down. If State falls into this trap it’s hard to imagine that they’ll have any chance at winning this game.
Oftentimes the best defense is a good offense. If the Pack gets stops on defense the NC State offense can help immensely by eating up clock and then finishing drives with points. It’s fairly elementary but if the Clemson offense is on the sidelines, they can’t score points.
Because the Tigers typically score so quickly, time of possession isn’t that big of a deal to their success. On the year they’re losing the time of possession battle by about three minutes per game. However, for the Wolfpack, every minute Andre Ellington, DeAndre Thompkins, Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins are on the sidelines is a good thing.
State ran the ball effectively against Wake Forest last week. Clemson gives up better than 169 yards per game on the ground and numbers like that are usually outstanding for NC State. If the Pack gets anywhere near that number against the Tigers they’re going to have a chance to win the game.
The Pack’s going to throw the football and Clemson has been suspect at times in their back seven. In particular, State will likely utilize their tight ends and backs quite a bit as well some of the short underneath stuff to Tobais Palmer and Bryan Underwood. The Clemson linebackers haven’t been great in coverage and there may be some openings available. Again, success here goes back to the run. If the Pack can keep Clemson honest defensively and make them respect State’s ground game then they can look to take advantage of some matchups against the Tiger linebackers.
Most importantly is keeping Glennon in his comfort zone which means avoiding third and long. As has been the case in the past, State has been at their worst when Glennon gets forced out of the pocket. On too many occasions this has ultimately ended up in a turnover.
If State can find balance offensively and avoid mental errors then they absolutely have the talent to keep themselves in the game with a chance to win it late.