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Wolfpack, Tigers Battle in Death Valley

NC State hits the road this Saturday to face Clemson in a huge game for both teams. Game time is set for 12:00, and the game is televised nationally on ESPN2. <P> Premium Subscribers can chat Live in the <a href=http://insiders1.ezboard.com/fnorthcarolinastatefrm17>PackPride.com Premium Chat Room</a> via the "Join Live Chat" Link. <P>

Death Valley

NC State (4-3) vs. Clemson (3-4)
Saturday, October 30, 2004
12:00 Memorial Stadium (84,000)
Clemson, SC

Clemson Links

Official Site



Season Statistics

Injury Report

NC State

Dovonte Edwards, DB -
quad bruise

Marcus Stone, QB -
knee sprain/wrist injury

Merci Falaise, OG/OT -
Arthroscopic surgery, 9/28
Leroy Harris, OG/C - Shoulder sprain
Derek Morris, OT - Out, high ankle sprain
Jed Paulsen, C - Ankle surgery, 10/12


Chansi Stuckey, WR -
ankle injury

Clemson Scouting Report

Justin Miller is Clemson's most explosive player
6 Charlie Whitehurst, QB – Whitehurst entered the season with high expectations, but he's struggled through the 2004 season. The junior quarterback has struggled with his decision making and accuracy while also playing behind an inconsistent offensive line. He'll face a tough defense this weekend when the Wolfpack come to Death Valley.

1 Airese Currie, WR – Possibly the fastest player in the conference, Currie has had a breakout season for the Tigers as he currently leads the ACC in receptions and receiving yards with 40 catches and 541 yards respectively. A burner, 'Air' Currie will test the Wolfpack deep on Saturday.

37 Reggie Merriweather, RB – Merriweather has probably been Clemson's best running back, sharing time with Duane Coleman. Neither has been spectacular, as the Tigers are last in the ACC averaging 99 yards per game on the ground.

93 Gaines Adams, DE – Outstanding pass rusher who has 3.5 sacks, tied for 8th in the ACC.

81 Bobby Williamson, DE – Converted tight end who has 4 sacks on the season, seventh in the ACC. He and Adams anchor a defensive unit that leads the conference in sacks.

43 Leroy Hill, LB – Hill is arguably the top defensive player in the ACC. He leads the conference in sacks (7) and is fifth in tackles (9.3) per game. Hill is an absolute playmaker who can dominate the game from his linebacker position.

9 Justin Miller, PR/KR/CB – NC State faced the league's top returner last week and now they must face #2. Miller grabbed national headlines when he returned two kicks for touchdowns against Florida State and he has three special teams scores on the season. He's also a lockdown defender who will likely matchup with Richard Washington.

Clemson uses a spread offense and will keep Whitehurst in the shotgun throughout the game. They use a lot of draws in the running game and also will run reverses to Currie. With NC State's aggressive defense, expect Clemson to try and stretch the field with the passing game.

Clemson attacks on defense and wants to pressure the quarterback. They've held their past two opponents to a total of 13 points and limited both Utah State and Maryland to less than 200 yards of total offense.

When Clemson has the ball on offense in Saturday's game there will be an interesting match-up of coordinators. Clemson offensive coordinator Mike O'Cain spent 14 years at NC State as offensive coordinator and head coach, and NC State defensive coordinator Reggie Herring spent eight years as an assistant at Clemson, including five years as the coordinator. He coached linebackers all eight years he served under Tommy West and Tommy Bowden.

O'Cain, a 1977 Clemson graduate, served as head coach at NC State from 1993-99. Prior to that, from 1986-92, he served as the Pack's offensive coordinator. He replaced Dick Sheridan at NC State in 1993 as head coach and took the Pack to an 8-4 record, including a Peach Bowl invitation. The next year he had the Wolfpack at 9-3 in the regular season, including a victory over Clemson in Death Valley, the first Clemson graduate to defeat the Tigers.

His 1998 season featured a win at Texas and a triumph over Florida State, just the second loss for Florida State in its ACC history dating to 1992. He took the Pack to another bowl game in 1998, his third as head coach of the Pack.

In 2001, O'Cain coached the Tiger quarterback in the 45-37 victory over NC State. Clemson had 567 yards total offense in that game, most ever in a road game, including a school record 517 yards from Woody Dantzler. Clemson's defensive coordinator in that game against the Pack and for the 2001 season, was Reggie Herring. So, O'Cain and Herring have been on the same staff.

One of the leaders of the Clemson offense has been wide receiver Airese Currie. The senior from Columbia, SC not only leads the Clemson team, but he also leads the ACC in both receptions and reception yards on a total and per game basis. Currie is trying to become the first Clemson receiver to lead the league in either category since 1980. Perry Tuttle led the ACC in catches per game in 1980 when he had 53 in 10 contests for 915 yards. Jerry Butler (1978) is the only other Clemson receiver to lead the league in receptions or reception yards for the course of a season.

Currie has 40 catches for 541 yards so far this season, and has a sizeable lead in the receptions area as no other ACC player has at least 30. Currie has been very consistent with at least five catches in six of the seven games so far this year. His 9-152 game against Wake Forest in the season opener ranks as the top receiving game for an ACC player so far this season. Entering this week, Currie is 27th in the nation in receptions per game and is 33rd in the nation in reception yards per game. He had 5-89 in the win over Maryland, including a key 18-yard catch from Charlie Whitehurst on the final drive.

Heading into this week's play, Currie is ninth in Clemson history in career receptions with 117 and his yardage total of 1703 is also ninth best in school history.

Clemson is in the process of facing two ACC foes who defeated the Tigers last year. Clemson avenged the first defeat with a victory over Maryland on October 23. Now, NC State , who defeated Clemson last year 17-15 in Raleigh, comes calling this Saturday.

Clemson hopes a recent trend continues. In each of the first five conference games involving the Tigers this year, the team that won the game in 2003, lost the meeting in 2004. Clemson lost to Wake Forest last year 45-17, then won the contest against the Demon Deacons this year. Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia all gained revenge against the Tigers this year for losses in 2003.

Clemson kept the string going with its 10-7 victory over Maryland last Saturday after having lost at Maryland in2003 by a 21-7 score.

NC State News and Notes

The series between NC State and Clemson, which dates back to 1899, has been a close one historically. Almost half of the games played between the two schools (34 of 72) have been decided by eight points or less, including 14 of the Pack's 27 wins over the Tigers. Six of the last seven games between NC State and Clemson have all been nail-biters, with the outcome decided by eight points or less. Last season, NC State won 17-15 in Raleigh and in 2002, the 12th-ranked Wolfpack won 38- 6 in a Thursday night matchup at Clemson.

In Chuck Amato's four previous season, his Wolfpack squad has posted a 2-2 record against Clemson, falling to the Tigers in 2000 and 2001 and winnitg the last two matchups. Last season's victory was the lowest scoring game beween the two teams since 1992, as State won 17- -15. In the five previous seasons, the Wolfpack had averaged 36.6 points per game while the Tigers had posted 31.0. Clemson has outrushed NC State in three of the four meetings under Amato, holding the Wolfpack under 100 yards on the ground in 2000 (32), 2001 (21) and last season (70). In 2002, the Pack rushed for 240 yards behind T.A. McLendon's career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns.

Last season, Clemson outgained NC State by 40 yards in a losing effort.

Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 24 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. Clemson posts a 14-9 advantage in the Textile Bowl.

Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato spent 18 years coaching under Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden's father, Bobby, at Florida State. For 14 of those seasons, Amato served as the elder Bowden's Asisstant head coach.

Amato and Tommy Bowden actually spent one season on the same staff at Florida State, as Bowden coached tight ends in 1982 while Amato was the defensive line coach.

Wolfpack defensive coordinator Reggie Herring is no stranger to Death Valley, but Saturday will mark the first time that he has stood on the visitor's sideline when the Tigers play.

Herring served as the Clemson linebacker coach from 1994 - 2001 and was the defensive coordinator from 1997-2001.

NC State has done a good job responding to losses this season. After each of the contests the Wolfpack has lost this season, it has had to go on the road for tough ACC battles. The result: impressive NC State victories.

Following the loss to Ohio State on September 18, NC State came back the next week and won at Virginia Tech in the first road ACC game of the season. Then after falling to North Carolina on October 9, NC State traveled to Maryland and won for the first time in five tries against the Terps.

This week NC State will be looking to follow up its loss to Miami with a win at Clemson's Death Valley, where NC State has won on two of the last three visits.

NC State's defense dropped to second place in the national total defense rankings this week after allowing 416 yards against Miami. That total came a week after giving up just 91 yards at Maryland, the lowest total ever for a Wolfpack opponent in an ACC game.

The defense was much-criticized last season after ranking 116th nationally in pass defense, allowing over 284 yards per game. In the total defense column, State ranked 89th nationally, giving up 421 yards per game.

The Wolfpack has held five of its seven opponents under 300 yards of total offense this season, and has held four to under 200 yards. Those four tallies under 200 yards mark the first time since 1963 that NC State has allowed such low totals in four contests in a single season.

Game Analysis

Clemson works out of a spread offense and they will try to get the ground game going early. They haven't had much success rushing the football this season, so NC State will try and make the Tigers one-dimensional.

If Clemson is forced to abandon the running game and go to the air, Whitehurst will look for Airese Currie often. Currie's the major target, but once they get in the redzone Whitehurst loves to throw the fade to Kelvin Grant. Chansi Stuckey is unlikely to play, so that's one less option NC State has to worry about. Expect them to try and pressure Whitehurst all game long and force him into making bad decisions.

T.A. McLendon's not on the injury report, and that's good news for the Wolfpack. He'll get plenty of touches on Saturday, and could be the deciding factor in the contest.

Quarterback Jay Davis will need to get comfortable early, and that means the offensive front will have to give him time to throw against Clemson. The Tigers will pressure him with their relentless pass rush, so the offensive line must give him time to make plays.

Finally, NC State's got to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers. T.J. Williams, Tramain Hall, Richard Washington, and the other athletes for the Wolfpack can play with Clemson's defenders. No drops, no fumbles, and no missed blocks will be crucial for NC State to sustain drives against the Tigers.

T.A. McLendon vs. Leroy Hill: McLendon's the key to the game. If NC State can get the rushing game rolling, Clemson will have problems stopping Davis through the air. Leroy Hill's going to key in on stopping McLendon, and where #44 is on Saturday expect to find #43 close by.

#43 Leroy Hill

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Thanks to NC State and Clemson Athletics for much of the information in this preview.

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