Get ready for a fight

RALEIGH, N.C. - Clemson fans should go ahead and get used to what they saw on Thursday night against N.C. State.

The Tigers are going to run into the occasional dog fight. According to Brent Venables, that comes with the territory.

"Let's face it, Clemson is going to get everybody's best shot," he said. "That's just what the facts are."

That's might have something to do with Dabo Swinney just being happy to escape Raleigh with a win -- something he didn't do the last time Clemson visited Carter-Finley Stadium. But it didn't come easy.

"We can't load the buses up soon enough. Good football team that we just played. Really, hat's off to N.C. State," he said. "That team, they fought the entire four quarters. Very impressed with some of the things they were doing, to create some problems for us."

The slow start

The most glaring of the problems was the slow start on the offensive side of the ball. While Tajh Boyd's 244-yard, three touchdown performance does look good on paper, it wasn't perfect, far from it.

Boyd, who completed 24 of 37 throws, looked a little out of sorts through much of the 26-14 win over the Wolfpack.

From Boyd to Morris to Swinney, the frustration was apparent.

"He was mad at himself," Swinney said. "Tajh is a perfectionist. That's the way he is at practice. That's the way he is all of the time.

"He can't stand when he feels like he's made a mistake or something like that."

Morris didn't see any rhythm in the first half, both on the field and on the sidelines.

"Tajh missed some opportunities he normally doesn't miss, some deep ball throws," Morris said.

The long layover, he added, played a part in Clemson's slow start out of the gate.

"Really, you start looking back, the last time they played a full game was the first game of the year. I think it showed. It showed early tonight," Morris said. "And credit [N.C. State].

"They did a few things that we knew they were preparing for -- that they were trying to hold as long as they can in their first two games, for this opportunity for this game, got to give them credit."

Three for three

Vic Beasley has made a living off of N.C. State. After recording three sacks in last year's game against the Wolfpack, he had three more on Thursday night.

"He was good," Venables said. "Those are huge plays in the game, in critical times. The ability to get the kind of pressure and disruption has a huge impact for our defense."

The biggest of the three sacks was the forced fumble that led to Boyd's 30-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant, which gave Clemson a 20-7 fourth quarter lead.

"The thing that really hurt us in the game was field position," Beasley said. "With the turnover right there, we were in [N.C. State] territory…Tajh went out there and made a good play. We got into the end zone."

Thanks to the D

Over the last two or so seasons, there haven't been many games when the defense played such a critical role in a win.

The hurry-up, no-huddle offense has produced plenty fireworks during that time. And the defense has had its fair share of duds.

"Defensively, it's great to win on defense," Swinney said. "I thought our defense was the difference in the game. They were tremendous all the way, until 3:54 in the game."

That's when N.C. State began its 23-play, 84-yard drive that took 7:32 off the clock.

"We weren't in a bend but don't break. We were in a stop everything they do defense," Venables said. "Fortunately, it worked out that way."

And, fortunately for the guys in all white on Thursday night, they managed to get out of town with win No. 3.

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