NOTES: Pack, Tigers Set To Battle

NC State returns to action tonight against Clemson. Here are some pregame notes on the Wolfpack.

Although the overall series versus Clemson has definitely come out in the Tigers' favor, the Wolfpack has won two of the last five matchups that were played in Raleigh. In fact, the last time Clemson made the trip to Carter-Finley, the seventh-ranked Tigers went home with a 37-13 loss.

Last year's game was back-and-forth for a quarter and a half before Clemson ran away with a 62-48 win in Death Valley. The Tigers jumped ahead to a 13-0 lead, before the Pack stormed back and went ahead 24-13. The two teams combined for 1,351 yards and 110 points.

Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 32 years (since 1981), the series between NC State and Clemson has been dubbed the Textile Bowl, as that industry has such a major economic impact on both states and both schools boast renowned textile colleges.

The North Carolina textile manufacturers donate money to NC State's scholarship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack's MVP from the game.

It's common knowledge that Dave Doeren has never lost a home game as a head coach. He enters the Clemson game with a 14-0 mark when his team plays on its home field in his third season running his own program.

What is not so well known is that Doeren hasn't been a part of too many losing games on his home turf in the past 10 years! Prior to his two-year stint as head coach at Northern Illinois, he spent five years on the sidelines at Wisconsin - serving as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. During his time in Madison, the Badgers posted a 32-3 mark at home, going undefeated at Camp Randall Stadium in 2010, 2007 and 2006.

When the Wolfpack takes the field against the Tigers, it will mark 1,434 days and counting since Doeren has coached a team that lost a game at home (Wisconsin lost to Iowa on Oct. 17, 2009).

NC State has faced a top 10 team each of the past two seasons. Both times, the team ranked in the top 10 left Carter-Finley Stadium with a lower ranking, as the Pack prevailed.

Last season, State defeated 5-0 and third-ranked Florida State, 17-16, on Oct. 6. In 2011, the Clemson Tigers came to town with a 9-1 record and a No. 7 ranking, but left with a 37-13 loss at the hands of the Pack. In fact, NC State has beaten the last three top-10 teams it faced, as Chuck Amato's squad defeated No. 9 FSU, 20-15, in 2005.

The Wolfpack has posted a 9-9 record in Thursday night ESPN games, including a 7-5 mark at home and a 4-2 mark against top 25 teams. State has faced Clemson in the Thursday night game three times, winning 17-15 at home in 2003, 38-6 on the road in 2002 and falling 31-10 in Raleigh in 2005.

In the presason, there was a lot of talk was about how the Pack's new up-tempo offense hoped to wear down the opposing defense late in the game. Two games into the 2013 campaign, however, it seems that it is the Pack defense that is having that effect on the opposition.

In the games against Louisiana Tech and Richmond, NC State's fourth quarter defense was outstanding. In those 30 combined minutes of fourth quarter action, the Pack defense has given up an average of just 6.0 rushing yards, 25.0 passing yards, and just 32.0 yards of total offense. The Pack has forced five punts and one turnover in seven fourth quarter opponent possessions.

In the season opener against Louisiana Tech, a team that led the NCAA in total offense last season, the Pack gave up just one first down, 2 yards rushing, and no yards passing. The Bulldogs had the ball for just 2:40 of the final 15 minutes, and were forced to punt twice and also had a fumble.

The Wolfpack's game against Clemson will pit the two youngest coaches in the ACC against each other. State's Dave Doeren is the 13th-youngest head coach in the BCS leagues at the age of 41, while Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is the second-youngest coach in the ACC at 43 years of age.

The MVP of the Wolfpack's first two games has definitely been junior kicker Niklas Sade (prounounced SAY dee). Sade, who ranks ninth nationally in scoring (second among kickers), has been named a Lou Groza "Star of the Week" twice in just two games, is a two-time winner of the College Football Performance Awards "Placekicker of the Week" and was the ACC Specialist of the Week for the week of Sept. 7.

Sade, who was ranked the third-best kicker in the country coming out of high school, struggled toward the end of the 2012 campaign. Over the last six games of the season, he hit just six of his 13 field goal attempts (six of those seven misses were from 42+ yards).

This season has been a different story. Sade has connected on all seven of his attempts, including three from 45+ yards. His four field goals made in the opener tied as the second-highest tally in school history and he personally outscored the entire Louisiana Tech squad, 16-14. Against Richmond, he connected on 46 and 19 yarders before nailing the game-winner from 48 yards with 33 seconds on the clock.

Sade has also hit all six of his extra points this season and is 96-99 for his career. Of his 15 kickoffs in 2013, 13 have been touchbacks.

NC State is the national leader in fumbles recovered thus far in the young season. The Wolfpack has taken a half dozen opponent miscues, with defensive linemen making the recovery on five of the six.

The decision of who would start at quarterback for the Wolfpack in 2013 was one that went down to the wire. Head coach Dave Doeren did not announce who his starter would be until the Pack took the field for the opener as transfers Pete Thomas and Brandon Mitchell battled for the job.

Mitchell, a graduate student who transferred from Arkansas in July, got the nod. Mitchell appeared in 21 games for the Razorbacks, but had played wide receiver in 2012. The decision looked like a good one as he stood under center in the opener for three promising offensive series - two of which were 65 and 75 yard touchdown drives. He completed all three of this throws for a quick gain of 93 yards before a broken foot sent him to the sideline where he will remain for six weeks or so.

Thomas, a junior who started 21 games under center at Colorado State, came in and completed 15 of 27 throws for 212 yards and directed the offense to 23 more points in a solid effort. In his second contest, he threw for 237 yards and completed 24 of 31 passes (.774), but also threw two picks. Thomas converted on three third downs by running the ball and five on passes against the Spiders.

The Dave Doeren era at NC State got off to an aupicious beginning, as the Wolfpack soared to a 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. The Wolfpack offense tallied 542 yards in the opener, the most for State in a season opener in over 20 years (The Pack had 592 against Western Carolina to open the 1990 season). The 40 points were the most in a Wolfpack coach's debut game since Monte Kiffin led the 1980 squad to a 42-0 win over William & Mary.

The Wolfpack's defensive front has been the most active spot on the field at times during the young season. Eleven players saw action on the d-line in the season opener and nine played against Richmond. That position is certainly the most stable in terms of depth as line coach Ryan Nielsen is able to go three deep at each position. Tackle A.J. Ferguson will be available for the Clemson game, adding more depth.

There may not be a large number of players from the state of South Carolina on the State roster, but the Wolfpack players from the Palmetto State have definitely made an impact.

Wide receiver Quinton Payton was the Pack's second-leading receiver last season. He hails from Anderson, S.C., and his high school, T.L. Hanna, is just 16 miles from the Clemson campus. Starting tight end Asa Watson is from Rock Hill, starting defensive tackle Thomas Teal is from Bennettsville and defensive end Mike Rose is from Fountain Inn - less than an hour from Clemson. Freshman safety Malcolm Means is a native of Great Falls, S.C.

NC State ranks sixth in the nation in number of true freshmen who have seen action in 2013. Eleven first-year frosh have played for the Wolfpack thus far, while two - wide receivers Bra'Lon Cherry and Marquez Valdes-Scantling - have started. True freshmen lead the Wolfpack in both rushing (Matt Dayes with 31 carries for 127 yards) and receiving (Valdes- Scantling with 12 receptions for 174 yards).

Other true freshmen who have seen action are: WR Johnathon Alston, DT Monty Nelson, CB Sean Paul, WR Jumichael Ramos, QB Bryant Shirreffs, QB Josh Taylor, CB Jack Tocho, and S Dravious Wright.

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