Week 9: Clemson

Pack Pride previews NC State's upcoming opponent, Clemson. The Tigers feature a balanced offense led by quarterback Kyle Parker and a tough, physical defense.

Clemson Game Notes

Tale of Two Quarterbacks

Much of the pregame talk about this contest has centered around the two quarterbacks. And rightfully so because it is a unique meeting of quarterbacks who have also been drafted by the same Major League Baseball team. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker was the first round selection of the Colorado Rockies last June and NC State signal caller Russell Wilson was selected by the same franchise in the fourth round.

Both players decided to come back to school to play at least another season of college football.

Wilson is a red-shirt junior in terms of football eligibility and Parker is a red-shirt sophomore in terms of football age. Wilson began his professional baseball career this past summer, while Parker is yet to play a professional base- ball game.

Both players have had outstanding college careers in both sports. Parker helped the Clemson baseball team to the College World Series last year and a number-four national ranking. He became the first athlete in Division I history to hit 20 home runs and thrown 20 touch- down passes in the same academic year. His 20 home runs last year led the Clemson baseball team. His 20 touchdown passes rank fourth best in school history for one season.

Parker ranks in the top 10 in Clemson history in both touchdown passes and home runs, the only ACC athlete to rank in the top 10 in both categories. He has 46 career home runs to rank eighth on the list and his 28 touchdown passes rank in a tie for fifth in Clemson history. He has a 13-9 record as a starting quarterback.

Wilson is among the best quarterbacks in NC State history. He has thrown 67 career touchdown passes, second in school history behind only Philip Rivers, who threw 95 between 2000-03. Wilson is among the best in ACC history terms of not throwing interceptions. In 2008 when he was the first team All-ACC quarterback as a freshman, he threw just one interception in 275 attempts. That only interception came at Clemson.

Challenge for Clemson Pass Defense
Clemson ranks 24th in the nation on pass defense and 27th in pass efficiency defense. The Tigers have 12 interceptions for the season and have returned two of those for touchdowns.

Additionally, Clemson ranks 14th in the nation in tackles for loss and 26th in sacks. That pressure also is related to pass defense.

That pass defense will certainly be challenged when the Tigers face NC State and quarterback Russell Wilson. NC State ranks 15th in the nation in passing offense with 295.8 yards per game.

Wilson is the biggest factor, as he has thrown for over 2300 yards and 19 touchdown passes. The touchdown pass total is best in the ACC and his 321 yards per game of total offense is fourth best in the nation. He has thrown for at least 300 yards in six of the eight games. One of the game he failed to reach the 300-yard mark, he quarterbacked the Pack to their biggest win of the year, the 28-24 win over Florida State last Thursday night.

Clemson has 12 interceptions on defense, tied for 18th in the nation. All-American DeAndre McDaniel has three to lead the team and his 14 interceptions over his career rank in a tie for second among active FBS players.

Clemson Has Allowed 36 Points Last Three Games
Clemson ranks in the top 25 in the nation in a number of statistical categories on defense and the performance of Kevin Steele's unit the last three games has had a lot to do with that. Over the last three games, Clemson has allowed just 36 total points. Clemson defeated a 6-2 Maryland team 31-7, then downed Georgia Tech, 27-13.

Clemson lost 16-10 at Boston College, but the defense allowed just one touchdown for the game and just 84 yards in the second half.

Clemson ranks 18th in the nation in scoring defense for the season, allowing 18.1 points per game. That statistic will be challenged this weekend when NC State comes to town. The Pack averages 35 points per game, 20th in the nation. Clemson is also 24th in the nation in pass defense, 14th in tackles for loss and 18th in interceptions.

Over the last five games Clemson has given up just 20 total points in the second half.

Clemson Offense Has Moved Ball vs. NC State Last Three Years One of the reasons for Clemson's success against NC State in recent years has been the production of the offense. The Tigers have won six in a row over the Wolfpack, but in the last three years Clemson has averaged 37.3 points per game. In terms of total offense, Clemson has 760 yards rushing and 730 yards passing over the last three games against NC State for an average of nearly 497 total yards per game, 253 rushing and 243 passing.

Last year Clemson won 43-23 behind 254 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. Kyle Parker completed 12-18 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers averaged 8.3 yards per play in that game.

Of course, C.J. Spiller had a lot to do with the victory. He ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass and threw a touchdown pass.

Converting on third down has also been a key for Clemson in recent years against NC State. Clemson is 19-37 on third down against NC State over the last three years a .513 figure.

Bowers One of 12 Semifinalist for Lombardi Award
Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers been named one of 12 semifinalists for the 2010 Lombardi Award. The award goes to the top lineman in college football. Bowers leads the nation in tackles for loss with 18.5 and in sacks with 11. He needs just two sacks to establish the Clemson single season record for sacks by a defensive lineman.

He ranks third on the Clemson team in tackles with 48. Bowers and the Tigers take on NC State on Saturday. Ten defensive and two offensive players comprise the list of 12 semifinalists. The Rotary Lombardi Award will be announced on December 8 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

The Big 10 Conference leads the pack with four players, followed by the Big 12 with three, the SEC and the ACC with two each and one from the Mountain West. Florida State's Rodney Hudson is the only other ACC player on the list.

Tigers Will be Without Ellington
Clemson will be without its leading rusher when the Tigers face NC State on Saturday. Andre Ellington has a ligament problem near a toe in a foot that will force him to miss at least the next two games.

Through last Saturday, Ellington was first in the ACC in all-purpose running with 129 yard per game. He is fifth in the ACC in rushing with 85.8 yards per game. He has 686 yards on the ground in 117 attempts, an average of 5.9 yards per carry. He has 10 touchdowns rushing 12 total. He is tied for the ACC lead in total touchdowns.

Clemson Head Coach Quotables

N.C. State is a hot team. They're playing very well on both sides of the ball and we're going to have to do a super job defending their offense. They're throwing the ball almost 300 yards a game, that's been their mode of operation. They're leading the league in first downs.

It all starts with the quarterback. Russell Wilson is playing at a really high level this year and getting the ball to a lot of people. He is the key. They have four really good wide outs. They spread you out and try to create some match-up problems. Mustafa Greene is a true freshman running back that has some great vision. He showed up big time in that Florida State game.

Defensively, they're playing very well. They're playing really hard and playing confident. They have 24 sacks. They do a good job of getting to the quarterback. Nate Irving is kind of like Russell Wilson. He's playing at a high, high level with a lot of intensity. The secondary is young. They have three sophomores and a freshman, but they're playing very well. It's military appreciation day this week. That's a special time at Clemson with our history.

On Kyle Parker/Tajh Boyd
Kyle did not play well at Boston College. But, as I said earlier, Kyle Parker is not the reason we've lost four games. He's not the reason we lost at Auburn. He didn't play well in the first half of the Miami game, but played great in the second half. At North Carolina, he was the offensive player of the game. Georgia Tech was his best game of the year. He's had one bad game.

People are so quick to get amnesia. Kyle Parker is a very good player. He's got to perform better for us to win, but this guy has laid it on the line for Clemson.

Our season has been disappointing, especially the way we've lost. Our guys continue to battle, and they continue to strive to win.

I do think we need to try to play Tajh Boyd. I think you can expect to see him playing in the remainder of the season. At this point I had hoped that things had been differently, but we've been living and dying on every play.

Kyle Parker gives us the best chance to win. No question. Tajh has gotten better every single week (in practice) and I'm so excited about the future with Tajh. But, I just want to make it clear. Kyle Parker has represented Clemson in such a great way for three years, in two sports. This guy walked away from $900,000 to be here. He wants to be here. For anyone (fans) to question his commitment, they're off their rocker. This guy is a big time competitor.

On running back situation
Roderick McDowell is going to have an opportunity to step up and show he's ready. He's practiced hard and gotten better, and he's a very talented back. His opportunity is now. I tell these guys all the time to prepare for your opportunity. He had a good practice last night. It's a challenge to Jamie too to step up and take his game to another level.

Daniel Barnes will be the third running back. Rod's just a freshman. He has to become a better practice player. His intensity at practice and his sense of urgency on some things needs to get better.

On N.C. State defense
They've just got some different pressure packages. You can see them mixed in, what Coach (Jon) Tenuta did at Georgia Tech. He's a very creative guy and we have a lot of experience with him. He's a good veteran football coach.

On kicking game
Richard Jackson is going to get his opportunity. I'm proud of him. Here's a senior that was beaten out for the job, fair and square. He hasn't pouted, he's shown up and has tried to be a leader and has been very supportive. We're going to give him the opportunity to finish this season and his senior year off well. Chandler Catanzaro has been lights out on the practice field, but it hasn't transferred to game day. Cat-man is a freshman, but we have to give someone else an opportunity. I expect Richard to perform well.

On injuries
The injury bug has bitten us a little bit. (Andre) Ellington is a big loss. He's going to be out at least two weeks. We're hopeful going to get Carlton Lewis back for Florida State and Kourtnei Brown will be out a couple games too. Miguel Chavis hasn't quite responded as well as we thought he would with treatment and he's still questionable too.

What are you playing for?
We play for Clemson. We play for that paw on our helmet. We play to win against N.C. State. Anything (in the ACC race) can happen if you keep playing hard. This is about playing for Clemson. These guys have laid it on the line. It's about playing for the guy next to you. It's about playing for Clemson.

These guys have hope. They believe in themselves. There's a lot of quitters out there, but not on this team. We're on the path to success , I know that. We're on the difficult road to success, but we're going to continue.

We're 4-4 and I'm not happy about it. But, that's where we are. To me, the glass is half full and it always will be. It's just about the next game and playing at a high level. I'm not happy with the short-term results, but I know that we're on the path to get the long-term results that we want. This season's not over. We're going to finish as strong as we possibly can. We're going to line up and play hard against N.C. State.

On Russell Wilson:
Russell Wilson has made a lot of plays. I think their tight end (George Bryan) is outstanding. Everything is just clicking for them right now. I'm happy for Coach O'Brien and his staff.

I remember when everyone was talking about how bad Russell Wilson (years ago) was playing. He's pushed through that and is now playing at an outstanding level. That's all good, but I want to beat them as bad as we can. They don't have that many designed runs for Russell, but it's not a major part of their package. Where he is dangerous is in the passing game. They're like 65% pass. We're going to have to do a great job with our coverages. We have to be smart in how we mix our coverages and how we defend against him.

Clemson Depth Chart

Clemson Depth Chart

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