From the Pack Perspective

James Henderson of PackPride.com answers questions from CUTigers publisher Roy Philpott in regards to Saturday's showdown in Death Valley.

How good is Jacoby Brissett and how concerned should Clemson be about what he’s done so far?
PackPride: Jacoby has been terrific. He's among the ACC leaders in several categories and really showed what he could do last weekend on national television against Florida State.

What he does well is distribute the ball to multiple playmakers. He doesn't lock in on one target, really reads defenses and has been accurate on each level in terms of passing.

The thing that's perhaps been most surprising has been his ability to make plays, extend plays, with his legs. Coming from Florida, he was billed a drop-back passer, but he's been an effective runner, especially when the pocket breaks down. Second play of the game against Florida State, the Noles had a blitzing linebacker come through unblocked. Brissett evaded the pressure and found Bo Hines open for a long touchdown. He's shown that he has great pocket presence and is a very, very good passer on the run.

Who is N.C. State’s go-to running back?
PackPride: There are two: Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes. Thornton is the better runner on the ground and is among the league's leaders in rushing and rushing touchdowns. Strong, physical downhill runner who can break tackles and provide a presence at that position.

The emergence of Dayes has been critical to NC State's offense. At 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, they like to line him up in the slot or send him out of the backfield against man coverage... he's a tough cover for linebackers. He's tied for the ACC lead in touchdown receptions (4) and is second in the league in total touchdowns (7). They use him in a variety of ways... try to get him a certain amount of "touches" per game.

What is the feeling right now with the job Dave Doeren has done?
How good is Jacoby Brissett and how concerned should Clemson be about what he’s done so far?
PackPride: Jacoby has been terrific. He's among the ACC leaders in several categories and really showed what he could do last weekend on national television against Florida State.

What he does well is distribute the ball to multiple playmakers. He doesn't lock in on one target, really reads defenses and has been accurate on each level in terms of passing.

The thing that's perhaps been most surprising has been his ability to make plays, extend plays, with his legs. Coming from Florida, he was billed a drop-back passer, but he's been an effective runner, especially when the pocket breaks down. Second play of the game against Florida State, the Noles had a blitzing linebacker come through unblocked. Brissett evaded the pressure and found Bo Hines open for a long touchdown. He's shown that he has great pocket presence and is a very, very good passer on the run.

Who is N.C. State’s go-to running back?
PackPride: There are two: Shadrach Thornton and Matt Dayes. Thornton is the better runner on the ground and is among the league's leaders in rushing and rushing touchdowns. Strong, physical downhill runner who can break tackles and provide a presence at that position.

The emergence of Dayes has been critical to NC State's offense. At 5-foot-9 and 205 pounds, they like to line him up in the slot or send him out of the backfield against man coverage... he's a tough cover for linebackers. He's tied for the ACC lead in touchdown receptions (4) and is second in the league in total touchdowns (7). They use him in a variety of ways... try to get him a certain amount of "touches" per game.

What is the feeling right now with the job Dave Doeren has done?
He's building, like a lot of coaches in college football. You look across the nation at second-year coaches (Doeren, Dykes (Cal), Bielema (Arkansas), Jones (Tennessee), etc...) and the majority of them struggled their first year. However, they all seem to already be turning their programs around.

Doeren is bringing in the talent and has already turned in two really good recruiting classes that they feel extremely good about. Dayes is a sophomore... Bo Hines is a true freshman... seven of the top eight wideouts are freshmen or sophomores... freshmen and sophomores are all over the roster.

They are playing a lot of young guys and hope it pays off in the future.

How close is he to getting State back to being a contender in the Atlantic Division?
PackPride: It's going to be tough having to deal with Florida State and Clemson (which is an issue a lot of State fans have with the current divisional set-up, but it is what it is) on a yearly basis, but their goal is to win the division.

It all starts with landing talent and maximizing that talent. I think they are already there in terms of being a contender/competitor in the league, but Florida State and Clemson are clearly established.

Who is N.C. State’s best pass rusher?
PackPride: Senior defensive end Art Norman is probably their best pass rusher, but they pressure from all four spots. T.Y. McGill and Art Norman can bring pressure from the interior and then you have Norman, junior Mike Rose, and reserves Kentavius Street, Drew Davis, and Pharoah McKever at end.

It's a group effort with them... they don't have a "Beasley" who is the guy when it comes to rushing the passer.

How do you believe N.C. State is approaching this game strategically on both sides of the ball?
PackPride: Offensively they'll try to stay balanced. They are averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground and were near that mark against Florida State last weekend. Their goal is going to be to establish the run in hopes of neutralizing Clemson's pass rush, but they'll also look to push the tempo offensively. They are at their best when playing fast offensively and they know that. When they go "turbo" it's really tough for defenses to deal with because they can do so many different formations because of the versatility of Dayes and tight end David Grinnage, who can line up in-line or flexed out.

Defensively, look for them to try and make Clemson beat them on the ground. I think they will keep their safeties back and play some softer underneath coverage to force the Tigers to have extended drives. They are concerned with the big-play ability of the Tigers so I think they are going to try and make them dink-and-dunk and then see if they can force field goals in the red zone.

Also, I know State has talked about how they can't fall behind because they think playing with a lead (and keeping the running game in play) can neutralize a guy like Beasley. He's really at his best when he knows the offense is passing.

Finally, how do you see this game playing out?
PackPride: Tough to say. I do think the Vegas line is a little high, and State has played Clemson fairly tough in recent years. However, it's hard to "expect" or predict an unranked team going into Death Valley and winning.

The key is going to be the running game. I think the team that can run the football the best will have a decided advantage because both teams are probably going to have some success through the air.

NC State is confident and fairly healthy going into the game. I don't think they were down after the loss to Florida State. In fact, I think it gave them even more confidence because they truly believe they can compete with the best teams. He's building, like a lot of coaches in college football. You look across the nation at second-year coaches (Doeren, Dykes (Cal), Bielema (Arkansas), Jones (Tennessee), etc...) and the majority of them struggled their first year. However, they all seem to already be turning their programs around.

Doeren is bringing in the talent and has already turned in two really good recruiting classes that they feel extremely good about. Dayes is a sophomore... Bo Hines is a true freshman... seven of the top eight wideouts are freshmen or sophomores... freshmen and sophomores are all over the roster.

They are playing a lot of young guys and hope it pays off in the future.

How close is he to getting State back to being a contender in the Atlantic Division?
PackPride: It's going to be tough having to deal with Florida State and Clemson (which is an issue a lot of State fans have with the current divisional set-up, but it is what it is) on a yearly basis, but their goal is to win the division.

It all starts with landing talent and maximizing that talent. I think they are already there in terms of being a contender/competitor in the league, but Florida State and Clemson are clearly established.

Who is N.C. State’s best pass rusher?
PackPride: Senior defensive end Art Norman is probably their best pass rusher, but they pressure from all four spots. T.Y. McGill and Art Norman can bring pressure from the interior and then you have Norman, junior Mike Rose, and reserves Kentavius Street, Drew Davis, and Pharoah McKever at end.

It's a group effort with them... they don't have a "Beasley" who is the guy when it comes to rushing the passer.

How do you believe N.C. State is approaching this game strategically on both sides of the ball?
PackPride: Offensively they'll try to stay balanced. They are averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground and were near that mark against Florida State last weekend. Their goal is going to be to establish the run in hopes of neutralizing Clemson's pass rush, but they'll also look to push the tempo offensively. They are at their best when playing fast offensively and they know that. When they go "turbo" it's really tough for defenses to deal with because they can do so many different formations because of the versatility of Dayes and tight end David Grinnage, who can line up in-line or flexed out.

Defensively, look for them to try and make Clemson beat them on the ground. I think they will keep their safeties back and play some softer underneath coverage to force the Tigers to have extended drives. They are concerned with the big-play ability of the Tigers so I think they are going to try and make them dink-and-dunk and then see if they can force field goals in the red zone.

Also, I know State has talked about how they can't fall behind because they think playing with a lead (and keeping the running game in play) can neutralize a guy like Beasley. He's really at his best when he knows the offense is passing.

Finally, how do you see this game playing out?
PackPride: Tough to say. I do think the Vegas line is a little high, and State has played Clemson fairly tough in recent years. However, it's hard to "expect" or predict an unranked team going into Death Valley and winning.

The key is going to be the running game. I think the team that can run the football the best will have a decided advantage because both teams are probably going to have some success through the air.

NC State is confident and fairly healthy going into the game. I don't think they were down after the loss to Florida State. In fact, I think it gave them even more confidence because they truly believe they can compete with the best teams.

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