NC State-Clemson: The Good and Bad

N.C. State's 26-20 loss to Clemson drops their record to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. It sets the stage for a huge game this weekend against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. <P> Here is a look at the good and bad in the Wolfpack's tough loss to Clemson.


Williams Has Big Day: Junior tight end T.J. Williams had probably his most productive day in a Wolfpack uniform, catching eight passes for 82 yards. Williams is a nightmare for opposing defenses because of his size and speed, and his productivity has picked up since earlier in the season. One play he'd probably like to have back was the drop he had on the opening drive that looked to be a sure touchdown. Outside of that play, Williams was great on Saturday.

Blackman Steps Up: When star running back T.A. McLendon went down with an injury, someone had to step up for NC State. Freshman Darrell Blackman did just that, finishing with 90 yards on 11 carries, setting a career-high. With McLendon's status in doubt nearly every game, all three tailbacks must be ready to go. Blackman certainly was against Clemson.

Reggie Reaches Pay Dirt: Reggie Davis makes plays. It's that simple. The sophomore tailback scored both Wolfpack touchdowns on Saturday, as he was on the receiving end of a five-yard pass from Jay Davis and scored a 10-yard run on the ground. He's a bruising back that's always moving piles forward and doing the little things needed when he's in the game. Whether it's converting a 4th and short or picking up a key block, Davis has done everything asked of him this season.

Dunlap Emerging? You have to feel a little bad for freshman wideout John Dunlap. Twice on the same drive he thought he had scored his first career touchdown, only to see both called back because of penalties. Later in the game he also made another big catch that went for huge yardage. Dunlap's emerging as a deep threat for NC State, as he's averaging over 19 yards per catch this season. Some rumors have been swirling that he could wind up at linebacker this spring, but with how he's playing at wide receiver it could be hard to justify such a move.

Offensive Line Does the Job: With three starters out and facing the league's top sack unit, NC State could have really been in trouble on Saturday. However, the offensive line limited Clemson to just two sacks and they did a solid job of opening running lanes as well. It's a unit that is missing key players, but in the long run the experience gained by Luke Lathan, Jon Holt, and James Newby will only help the program.

Defense Stands Strong: NC State's defense came in wanting to dominate Clemson's offense and they did a good job against the Tigers. Put in bad field position all day, the Wolfpack forced the Tigers to kick four field goals while limiting them to just one touchdown on offense. Clemson was held below their total offense average, and struggled trying to sustain drives against the league's top defensive unit.

Deraney Comes Through: John Deraney was solid this past weekend. He nailed both field goal attempts, punted at nearly a 45 yard per punt average, and managed to keep the dangerous Justin Miller from making any big plays in the return game. His 44-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter was huge, as it gave NC State a chance to win the game on the final drive. If he misses that kick with six minutes left, the Wolfpack's still down two scores and possibly completely out of it. Deraney came up big on Saturday.

Tiger Ground Game Grounded: Clemson came in with the league's worst rushing attack, averaging just 99 yards per game on the ground. NC State made sure that stat didn't improve as the Tigers finished with only 82 yards on 37 carries. They'll need to stay strong against the run this weekend, as Georgia Tech comes in with one of the league's top rushers in P.J. Daniels. Daniels is listed as doubtful for the upcoming game.


Turnovers... AGAIN: Maybe this note should be listed four or five times under this section because it's a MAJOR, MAJOR reason why NC State lost to Clemson. You can't beat ACC teams with six turnovers... it's not going to happen. Clemson came into the game with zero points off turnovers this season and scored 16 against the Wolfpack. To salvage the season, NC State has to start limiting turnovers. If they don't, expect the Wolfpack home for the holidays.

Yellow a Secondary Color: Maybe the Wolfpack's the red, white, and yellow from NC State. All year long they have had crucial penalties and that was again the case against Clemson. The Wolfpack had two touchdowns called back because of penalties, and finished the day with 10 for 62 yards. Like with turnovers, you won't beat good ACC teams with foolish penalties.

McLendon Can't Go: Early in the second quarter, tailback T.A. McLendon suffered an AC separation to his shoulder after being hit by a Clemson linebacker. He was taped back up and wanted to go back into the game, even putting back on his pads in the third quarter. However, doctors and Wolfpack coaches wouldn't let him return. McLendon's one of the league's best when he's able to go, but it's becoming an issue of if he's ever really going to be able to go. NC State's going to need a healthy McLendon for the rest of the season.

Injuries, Injuries, and More Injuries: The injuries didn't stop at McLendon. Wideout Richard Washington, who has been having a stellar season, suffered a knee sprain in the first half and missed the remainder of the game. He'll have an MRI today to find out the extent of his injury, and NC State can't afford to lose another offensive player. They played the majority of Saturday's game without five offensive starters, and they can't afford to lose any more players on that side of the ball.

Davis Struggles: After having his best game of the year against Miami, quarterback Jay Davis struggled on Saturday. He finished the game with five interceptions and just one touchdown pass. It was a tough day for him, but he'll get a chance for redemption this weekend against Georgia Tech. A strong game leading the Wolfpack to victory over the Yellow Jackets is just what the red-shirt junior needs.

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