Gameday: NC State vs. Clemson

NC State (3-6) faces Clemson (7-3) today in a huge conference game for both teams.

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NC State (3-6) vs. Clemson (7-3)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

12:00 pm Memorial Stadium

Clemson, SC


NC State Game Notes


  • NC State used a different starting five for the first time all season on the offensive line. Meares Green (RT) and Luke Lathan (C) started for the first time in 2006, with Leroy Harris moving from starting center to starting left guard.
  • All six of the Wolfpack's conference games have been decided by eight points or less this season.
  • Darrell Blackman is second in the ACC in kick returns (eighth nationally) and fourth in the ACC in punt returns (26th nationally). He ranks first in kick returns and second in punt returns in ACC games only.

    NC State and Clemson have met 74 times on the gridiron since the series began in 1899, the third oldest ACC series for the Wolfpack. The Tigers hold a 46-27-1 advantage all-time and a 19- 11 mark in Clemson.

    Clemson leads 4-6 over the last 10 meetings overall and Tommy Bowden is 4-2 over Chuck Amato in the series. Amato has a 1-2 mark at Clemson, including a 38-6 win in 2002, the second largest margin of victory in an ACC game for the Wolfpack under Amato (a 55-31 win at Duke in 2001 and a 24-0 win against Virginia were the largest). The two losses in Death Valley were both decided by a touchdown or less, a 20-26 defeat in 2004 and a 27-34 loss in 2000.

    Over the last 10 meetings in Death Valley, the Tigers hold a 6-4 edge in the series, winning by an average of 15.8 points in six games and the Wolfpack winning by an average of 12 points in the four wins.

    Although not many of the players in uniform know about it, for the past 26 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 NCState's scholarship fund every year in honor of the Wolfpack's MVP from the game.

    Clemson posts a 16-9 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 assistant head coach. Amato and TommyBowden 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.

    All six of the Wolfpack's conference games this season have been decided by eight points or less and three by four points or less.

    In Chuck Amato's 54 ACC contests, he has posted a 25-29 record. In 31 of those 54 games, the final outcome has been decided by a touchdown (seven points) or less, 36 have been decided by eight points or less and 40 have been decided by 10 points or less. Amato is 11-15 on the road in ACC matchups and in 16 of those 26 games the score has differed by seven points or less, with NC State posting a 6-10 record in those games after a six point loss to Maryland and a seven point loss to Virginia over the last two roads ACC games this season.

    His ACC record includes a 14-14 mark at home and the Wolfpack has lost just four conference games by double digits at home in the past seven years. In 14 home ACC wins, six have been by double digits, and the other eight have been by seven or less points, including the two-point win over BC and the fourpoint triumph over FSU.

    Under Amato, NC State has lost by 20-or-more points just three times and by more than 10 points just seven times in ACC games.

    The Wolfpack defense has consistently stopped opponents on third down this season and currently is second in the league and ranks 11th nationally in opponents third down conversion percentage. NC State is holding opponents to a 30.2% conversion rate on third downs and has allowed only 38 conversions on third down, second best in the conference.

    A bright spot during the four-game losing streak has been the increase in total yards since Daniel Evans took over at quarterback for his first career start against Boston College. NC State has averaged 318.5 total offensive yards-per-game over the last six games, all against league foes. That mark ranks fifth in conference games only.

    For the season, the team is still seventh in the ACC in total offense at 301.9 yards-per-game after averaging just 268.7 yards-per-game in the first three games of the season before Evans took over under center.

    NC State is 1-3 when outgaining its opponents this season, with the three losses to Wake Forest, Maryland and Virginia and a win against Appalachian St.

    Junior return specialist and wide receiver Darrell Blackman injured his knee on the opening kickoff of the Southen Miss game and missed the remainder of that contest and the Boston College game. Since his return from injury, Blackman has been a valuable piece of the Wolfpack's offensive unit, and his play on special teams is just that - special. He is the only player in the ACC that ranks in the top five in the league in both punt returns and kick returns and the only one to return both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown this season. Blackman is second in the conference in kickoff returns and eighth nationally, averaging 31.1 yards per return. His punt return mark (10.7) is fourth in the ACC and ranks 26th in the NCAA.

    He is even better against conference foes, leading the league in kickoff returns (33.4) and placing second in punt returns (11.8).

    Blackman is the Wolfpack's career leader in kickoff return average at 29.5 and is fourth in yards with 1,031.

    Darrell Blackman collected a careerhigh 234 all-purpose yards in the Georgia Tech contest, the eighth-best single game total in school history. Those yards included a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the seventh longest kick return in school history and the 11th longest overall play. He currently leads the ACC in conference games only with an average of 135.6 all-purpose yards-per-game and ranks third overall at 118 yards-per-game, 34th nationally.

    Blackman currently ranks 15th in school history with 2,526 career all-purpose yards and needs just 56 yards to become the first Wolfpack player with back-to-back 1,000 all-purpose yard seasons since Jerricho Cotchery (2002 and 2003). Blackman is also on pace to post a top-10 season in terms of all-purpose yards.

    The team has had its struggles in the red zone this season on both sides of the ball. In the first four games of the season, NC State made just seven trips into the red zone and scored five times (four TDs, one FG). The defense had allowed 14 scores (nine TDs, five FGs) in 16 chances inside the 20-yardline.

    Those numbers have improved in the last five games, each against ACC foes, as the offense has more than doubled its production in the red zone while the defense has allowed fewer trips and touchdowns.

    NC State has made more trips inside the red zone than its opponents in only three of the nine games this season, against Florida State (5-to-3), Wake Forest (4-to-1) and Georgia Tech (3-to-2), posting a 1-2 record. In its six ACC games, NC State has scored on 15 of its 17 (88.2%) red zone trips, fifth in the conference.

    NC State will play two of its final three games on the road and is 0-3 in road contests this season. The Pack has lost two of the three games by a touchdown or less.

    Overall, NC State is playing four of its final six games on the road after hosting five of its first six games at home. The last time NC State played four of its final six games on the road was 1995 when the Wolfpack posted a 2-4 record to finish the season.

    NC State played five of its first six games at home this season and posted a 3-3 mark. The last time the Pack was fortunate enough to begin the season with so many home contests was in 1998, when NC State also played five of the first six at home en route to a 4-2 start. That same season was also the last time NC State opened its ACC schedule with three straight at home, (NC State's 2006 conference slate opened with Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest all visiting Carter-Finley). This season marked the seventh straight that Amato opened the season at home.

    For the first time all season, NC State had a different starting lineup along its offensive line. Luke Lathan started at center and Meares Green started at tackle, with Leroy Harris moving over to guard after starting the first eight games at center.

    It was Green's first career-start and Lathan's fifth career start, though he hadn't started a contest since 2004.

    Clemson Quick Facts

    Clemson, S.C.
    School Colors:
    Orange & Purple
    Memorial (83,000)

    Head Coach:
    Tommy Bowden
    Record at CU:
    59-36 (8 years)
    2006 AP Ranking:
    2006 Current Record:
    7-3, 4-3

    Clemson Game Notes

    Clemson vs. NC State Series Notes
    •Overall, Clemson has a 46-27-1 lead in the series, including a 19-11 record in games played at Clemson. The Tigers are 16-11 against NC State in games played in Death Valley.

    •Clemson is 12-11-1 against NC State in neutral site games and 16-15 in games at Raleigh over the years. NC State has an 11-8 lead in games played in Carter-Finley Stadium, but Clemson won there last year by a 31-10 score.

    •Seven of the last nine games have been decided by eight points or less, with the most recent close game coming in 26-20 Tiger victory, a game that was decided on the last play of the game.

    •Each team has one win by 20 points or more over the last nine years and both of the games have been on Thursday night. NC State won at Clemson on a Thursday night in 2002 by a 38-6 score, and Clemson won last year on a Thursday night, 31-10.

    •NC State was Clemson's nemesis team from 1986-88. The Tigers won the ACC Championship each year under Danny Ford, but never beat the Pack in the process, losing all three seasons. It was the only loss for Clemson in the ACC in each of those years.

    •Tommy Bowden is 4-3 against NC State since he has been at Clemson. That includes a 2-2 record in Raleigh and a 2-1 ledger at Clemson.

    •Over the last 10 years the two teams have won in two-game sets. Clemson won in 1996 and 1997. NC State followed with victories in 1998 and 1999, then Clemson won in 2000 and 2001 behind Woody Dantzler who rushed for at least 100 yards from the quarterback position in each game. NC State won in 2002 and 2003 behind Phillip Rivers, while Clemson won the last two seasons behind Charlie Whitehurst. Both are now quarterbacks with the San Diego Chargers.

    •Clemson has not won three in a row from the Pack since 1995-96-97 under Tommy West. Two of the three wins were in Raleigh. Clemson's longest winning streak in the series is five games, while NC State's longest winning streak in the series is six (1971-76).

    Landmark Games in Clemson vs. NC State Series
    1903—Clemson defeated NC State 24-0 in Columbia, SC in 1903. Clemson Head Coach John Heisman got married to Evelyn Barksdale in Columbia after the game. It is believed to be the only time in Clemson sports history that a coach has won a game and won a lady's hand in matrimony on the same day. 1948—Bobby Gage ran 90 yards on a punt return for the only score of the game in a 6-0 Tiger victory over the Wolfpack in 1948. It was the longest punt return in Death Valley until Jacoby Ford had a 92-yard punt return against Florida Atlantic in the opening game this year.

    1950—Clemson defeated NC State 27-0 in 1950. Wyndie Windham led the Clemson defense and according to legend knocked out three NC State backs on three consecutive plays in the second half.

    1967—Clemson painted its shoes orange for the NC State game in Death Valley and the Tigers upset the 10th ranked Wolfpack 14-6. One of the linebackers on that NC State team was current Pack Head Coach Chuck Amato. Clemson clinched a tie for the ACC championship with the victory. Clemson painted its shoes orange because NC State had featured a defense that had worn White shoes during the season. It was the highest ranked team Clemson defeated in Death Valley in the Frank Howard era.

    1984—Clemson defeated NC State 35-34 in Raleigh in the highest scoring game decided by one point in Clemson history. No points were scored by either team in the fourth quarter.

    1991—Clemson wore purple jerseys for the first time since the 1940s in a 29-19 upset victory over NC State. NC State was undefeated and ranked 10th in the nation entering the game against Ken Hatfield's Tigers. Nelson Welch kicked a record five field goals in leading Clemson to the victory.

    1995—Clemson gave up over 500 yards total offense to the Pack, but still won 43- 22. Leomont Evans tied a Clemson single game record with three interceptions.

    Recent Clemson vs. NC State Games
    1997— In Raleigh, Matt Padgett, who went on to a professional baseball career, booted a 20-yard field goal with just 19 seconds left to give Clemson a 19-17 victory over 25th ranked NC State. The Tigers drove 78 yards in 14 plays to set up the winning score. Nealon Greene hit 20-32 passes for 250 yards and Tony Horne caught eight passes for 112 to key the Clemson offense.

    1998—at Clemson, Torry Holt completed an incredible day with a nine-yard scoring pass from Jamie Barnette with just 37 seconds left. It was his fourth touchdown reception of the day. He had 225 yards receiving in that game and he is the only Clemson opponent to catch four scoring passes in the same game.

    1999—NC State, behind then Head Coach Mike O'Cain, defeated Clemson 35-31 in an exciting contest in Raleigh that featured 35 first-quarter points between the two teams combined, most combined points ever in the first period of a Clemson game in history. Clemson had five possessions in the fourth period with a chance to take the lead, but could not drive for a winning touchdown.

    2000—This game was a thriller that came down to the last possession before the Tigers came away with a 34-27 victory. Woody Dantzler completed 18-30 passes for 220 yards and also rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Rod Gardner had 10 catches for 137 yards (most reception yards ever by a Clemson player against NC State), while Travis Zachery added 31-147 and two scores.

    2001— Dantzler gained 517 yards of total offense, an all-time Clemson record. He had a career best 23-27 passes for 333 yards and four scores, and also rushed for 184 yards and two touchdowns. It was arguably the best individual performance in Clemson history as he accounted for an ACC record six touchdowns. Still, it was a 45-37 outcome, as Phillip Rivers had another outstanding passing game for NC State.

    2002—T.A. McClendon had a breakout game with 178 yards rushing to lead NC State to a 38-6 victory in a Thursday night game in Death Valley. Clemson's only touchdown came on a kickoff return by then freshman Justin Miller. It was his first career kickoff return.

    2003—Phillip Rivers evened his career record against Clemson at 2-2 with a 213-yard passing performance, leading the Pack to a 17-15 victory in Raleigh in a game shown on ESPN on a Thursday evening. Clemson cut the deficit to 17-15 with five minutes left, but the Tigers could not get close enough for a winning field goal. NC State got the ball back with 3:54 left and ran out the clock. 2004—Clemson won 26-20 when Charles Bennett intercepted a pass at the Clemson goal line on the last play to preserve the victory. It was the seventh time in the last eight meetings that the game was decided by eight points or less. 2005—Even though he played just over two quarters, freshman James Davis gained 143 yards rushing in just 12 attempts to lead Clemson to a 31-10 victory, Clemson's largest margin of victory in the series since a 40-17 win in 1996. It remains Clemson's only victory on a Thursday evening ESPN game.

    Clemson vs. NC State on Lincoln Financial
    The Clemson vs. NC State will be broadcast on the Lincoln Financial television network. This will be part of a split network, as some stations in the ACC's footprint will show the North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech game. The game will be shown on ESPN Gameplan on DirectTV. Below is a list of station's carrying the Clemson vs. NC State game:

    Market Outlet Baltimore, MD (WJZ) Bluefield/Beckley, WV (WVNS) Boston/Manchester, MA (WSBK) Charleston, SC (WCBD) Charlotte, NC (WBTV) Charlottesville, VA (WVIR) Columbia, SC (WACH) Gainesville, FL (WMYG) Greenville, NC (WFXI) Greenville, SC (WMYA) Hagerstown, MD (WHAG) Harrisonburg, VA (WAZT) Jacksonville, FL (WJXX) Miami, FL (WBFS) Mobile, AL (WBPG) Myrtle Beach, SC (WBTW) Norfolk, VA (WGNT) Orlando, FL (WRDQ) Panama City, FL (WPGX) Providence, RI (WLWC) Raleigh, NC (WRAL) Richmond, VA (WRLH) Roanoke, VA (WDBJ) Salisbury, MD (WMDT) Springfield, MA (WSBK) Tallahassee, FL (WTLH) Tampa, FL (WTOG) Tri-Cities, VA (WEMT) Washington, DC (WDCA) West Palm Beach, FL (WTVX) Wilmington, NC (WSFX)

    Last Year vs. NC State
    Clemson 31, NC State 10
    Clemson scored 28 points in the first half and cruised to a 31-10 win at N.C. State. The victory was Clemson's first on an ESPN Thursday night telecast.

    After an exchange of punts to begin the game, the Wolfpack moved the ball 33 yards in six plays down to the Tiger 18. However, John Deraney missed wide left on a 36-yard field-goal attempt, his first miss of the season.

    Each team was again forced to punt before Clemson began a drive at its own 17 late in the first quarter. A Charlie Whitehurst to Thomas Hunter pass gained 17 yards, and three plays later, Whitehurst hit Chansi Stuckey for 22 yards on a tipped screen pass. James Davis followed with a 19-yard run, and a facemask penalty gave the Tigers a first-and-goal. On third down, Whitehurst found a wide-open Curtis Baham in the back of the endzone for a touchdown and the first points of the night.

    The Tiger defense forced a three-and out, and the Clemson offense went to work from its 27. A third-down pass from Whitehurst to Aaron Kelly gained 12 yards, and two plays later, Davis dashed for 30 yards. Two more plays later, Whitehurst hit Bobby Williamson in the endzone, with the tight end making a nice diving grab.

    Darrell Blackman returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the Clemson 43. The Wolfpack could not score, however, as Jamaal Fudge forced Tony Baker to fumble two plays later, giving the Tigers the ball at their own 38.

    Davis ran for 16 yards on the first play of the drive, and Whitehurst followed with a nine yard pass to Williamson. Two consecutive runs by Davis gained 19 yards, and two plays later, he busted up the middle for 12 yards and a touchdown, giving Clemson a 21-0 lead with eight minutes remaining in the half.

    The Tigers forced N.C. State to punt after three plays on the next drive, but a roughing-the-kicker penalty against the Tigers kept the Wolfpack drive alive. Jay Davis completed a 16-yard pass to Lamart Barrett for 16 yards down to the Clemson 35, and a roughing-the-passer penalty gave N.C. State 15 more yards. On the next play, Blackman bounced outside for a 20-yard touchdown run to get the Wolfpack on the scoreboard.

    On the second play of the next drive, Whitehurst hit Stuckey for a 39-yard pass play into Wolfpack territory. Whitehurst then hit Hunter for a gain of nine, followed by a 23-yard run by Davis. On the next play, Davis outran the N.C. State defense to the pylon for his second score of the night.

    The Wolfpack again had a long kickoff return, this time covering 76 yards by Blackman all the way to the Tiger 21. However, the drive stalled, and Deraney was good this time from 25 yards out.

    Clemson's offense began the second half the way it ended the first. Whitehurst hit Kelly for a 35-yard completion down to the Wolfpack 20, but the Tigers could not get any closer. Jad Dean missed the first field goal of his career against a team not named Miami (FL) when his 39-yard attempt sailed wide left.

    Later in the third period, Stuckey took the pitch on a reverse play on the next Tiger offensive series to move the ball into Wolfpack territory, and a touchdown pass from Whitehurst to La'Donte Harris was erased after an ineligible receiver downfield penalty. The Tigers moved to the N.C. State 13-yard line, and Dean came on to boot a 30-yard field goal, pushing the Clemson lead back to 21 points.

    In the fourth quarter, a blocked punt by N.C. State gave the Wolfpack another chance inside Clemson territory, but Anthony Waters tipped away a fourth-down pass from Marcus Stone, who had come in at quarterback for the Wolfpack.

    Davis ran for 143 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns, and only played one play in the second half after leaving the game with a fractured wrist. It was the fifth-best rushing total by a freshman in Clemson history.

    Whitehurst completed 22-31 passes for 246 yards and two scores, and Stuckey had eight catches for 103 yards. Waters had 11 tackles, including four tackles for loss to lead the Tiger defense.

    Clemson Veterans vs. NC State
    Gaines Adams (DE)—Had two tackles in 32 plays as a reserve in 2004 against NC State, and had six tackles in 49 plays as a starter in 2005 game.

    Cole Chason (P)—Averaged 36.7 yards a punt on three punts as a freshman in 2003. Averaged 37.0 on five punts in he 2004 Clemson victory. Averaged 40.0 on just two punts in 2005 Clemson win in Raleigh.

    Duane Coleman (CB)—Had three tackles, including his first career sack and caused fumble in 2005 Clemson win at Raleigh.

    James Davis (RB)—Had 143 yards rushing on just 12 carries and scored two touchdowns in 2005 Clemson win in Raleigh. Suffered a broken wrist however in the third period and did not play the remainder of the game.

    Jad Dean (PK)—Made 4-4 field goals and 2-2 extra points to score 14 of Clemson's 26 points in 26-20 Tiger win in 2004. Had 1-2 field goals and 4-4 extra points in 31-10 Clemson win in 2005.

    Marion Dukes (OT)—Has started the last two games at offensive tackle against NC State. Had seven knockdown blocks to lead the Tigers in 2004 Clemson victory.

    C.J. Gaddis (CB)—Had three tackles in 31 snaps as a reserve in 2005 game.

    Sergio Gilliam (CB)—had five tackles in 46 plays as a starter in 2005.

    Michael Hamlin (SAF)—Had season high eight tackles in 53 plays as a starter as a freshman in 2005 Clemson victory.

    Thomas Hunter (TE)—Had 2-26 receiving in 42 snaps at NC State in 2005.

    Aaron Kelly (WR)—Had one of his best games as a freshman with 5-81 receiving in 39 snaps.

    Phillip Merling (DE)—Had three tackles in just 18 plays, but had first career sack and first career caused fumble in 2005 Clemson win in Raleigh.

    Reggie Merriweather (RB)—Had 14-49 rushing in 2004 Clemson win in 42 plays as a starter. Had 12-47 rushing in 30 snaps as a starter in win in Raleigh.

    Will Proctor (QB)—Played two plays as a reserve quarterback in 2005 game in Raleigh.

    Barry Richardson (OT)—Named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance as a sophomore against the Wolfpack. Had 82 percent grade and five knockdown blocks in a matchup against #1 NFL draft choice Mario Williams. Williams had just one tackle in 73 plays in that game.

    Chansi Stuckey (WR)—Did not play in 2004 game due to injury. Had 8-103 receiving and 2 rushes for 22 yards in 2005 Clemson win.

    Nick Watkins (LB)—Had five tackles in 27 snaps as a reserve in 2004. Had seven tackles in 50 plays as a starter in 2005.

    Not Much Difference Between Wolfpack and Terps
    The parity in ACC football can be shown by comparing the last four games for Maryland and NC State. Maryland's 13-12 victory at Clemson last weekend was the fourth consecutive win by six points or less for the Terps and they now control their own destiny for the Atlantic Division Championship of the ACC. They have four wins by a total of 12 points, including wins over Clemson and NC State in ACC play.

    The Wolfpack enter Saturday's game with Clemson with a 3-6 mark. But, over the last four games, NC State has lost each to an ACC foe by eight points or less. Reverse those fortunes and NC State would be in the driver's seat for an ACC Championship game appearance.

    The Pack started the ACC schedule with thrilling wins over Boston College and Florida State. The 2-0 mark against two of the top three teams in the preseason in the Atlantic Division had the Pack thinking ACC Championship game appearance. NC State won both games with last second touchdown passes from quarterback Daniel Evans to wide receiver John Dunlap.

    Evans, the son of former NC State quarterback and punter Johnny Evans, has completed 114 of 215 passes for 1,301 yards and six touchdowns. He took over for Marcus Stone early in the season.

    Starting tight end Anthony Hill is the top receiver for NC State with 31-333 yards, while Dunlap is second in receiving with 22-293 and four scores. Darrell Blackman is an all-around player the Tigers will have to watch this afternoon. He is third in receiving with 21-285 and two scores, has 8-42 on the ground, leads the team in punt returns with 17- 182 and leads the team in kickoff returns with a 31.1 average. All Clemson fans need to know is that Blackman has virtually the same allpurpose yardage total as James Davis (118.3 vs. 118.0). Andre Brown leads the NC State ground game with 582 yards on 101 attempts for a healthy 5.8 average. He and top reserve Tony Baker have four touchdowns apiece for the Pack, who average 119 yards per game on the ground.

    NC State has a solid defense that ranks 26th in the nation in pass defense. Patrick Lowery, a senior middle linebacker, leads the team in tackles and ranks third in the ACC with 79. He also has 6.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Garland Heath is an outstanding roverback who will challenge Chansi Stuckey and company. He has 49 tackles to rank second on the team. DeMarcus Tyler ,a 305-pound senior, is the anchor of the defensive line. He has 39 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss. Martrell Brown leads the team in sacks with five.

    Clemson Has Played Tough Schedule
    Clemson has played a difficult schedule through 10 games. The three non-conference games have not been against difficult competition, but Clemson's conference schedule certainly has. The Tigers have already played five games against teams currently in the Associated Press top 25, the only ACC team to play the five top 25 ACC teams. In fact, no other school has even played three of the five top 25 ACC teams so far. Clemson has a 2-3 record in those games, wins over Georgia Tech and Wake Forest and losses to Boston College, Maryland and Virginia Tech.

    A look to the AP top 25 shows that none of the current teams in the top 25 have played more than three games against teams currently in the AP top 25. Ohio State and Louisville have played just one team currently in the top 25, while Michigan and Texas have played two. That means the top four teams in the AP poll have combined to play six top 25 teams (current poll), just one more than Clemson has by itself.

    A further look reveals that Clemson is the only school in the nation to have played five of the teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the AP poll. The schools who have played four current top 25 teams are Penn State, North Carolina, Minnesota, Washington State and Washington. The Big East conference has played a combined 13 games against teams in the current AP top 25. The only victory is by Louisville over West Virginia.

    Press Conference Quotables

    Tommy Bowden
    Team psyche after two losses to Virginia Tech and Maryland:

    Our psyche seems to be pretty good. I've tried to help the team be realistic on where we are, where the program is, and what we've accomplished under the circumstances, and what's left on the table.

    The problem we face now is that we don't want a loss to affect us twice. We need an eight win (season). We've lost two in a row. So, I think it's important that our team win another game and not worry so much about 'what ifs' as opposed to what is coming up on Saturday (against NC State).

    We're trying to promote a positive environment. It has been a relatively draining season. At this point in time, we're the only team in the nation that has played five of the teams in this week's top 25 of the AP poll. That is out of 119 teams. Our players have had to reach a high emotional level more so than any other team in the country. I don't want them to think that everything is diminished. We need to win another game.

    On the performance of quarterback Will Proctor:
    For a first-year starter I think he has done pretty well. If we were to stop the season today, he would have the sixth highest passing efficiency in the history of Clemson. He is just one-tenth of a point behind Charlie Whitehurst's best season (135.6 to 135.5). He's second in the conference in passing efficiency. It there was one area he could improve it is his progression in reads when under pressure. If he makes better decisions under pressure, he's probably going to throw for 75 or 80 percent passing which would be a record. You're talking about a high level of efficiency. Right now he's over 60% (in completion percentage) and making some good decisions. I would say if this was his second or third year starting he would be higher in efficiency.

    On the struggles of the running game:
    A lot has to do with the competition. Virginia Tech and Maryland have good defensive players. They're harder to block. They get off blocks quicker. The holes aren't as open and they're better tacklers. We've had some pretty productive running games with some superior talent. I'd hate to look at where we are offensively and defensively and say we have to reinvent the wheel because statistically we are doing pretty well.

    On back-up quarterbacks, Cullen Harper and Tribble Reese:
    Experience is separating them right now (from Will Proctor). I think Cullen (Harper) and Tribble (Reese) are working to compete for the job. They're red-shirt sophomores. They've got two more years of spring practices and more snaps and that's probably the only thing separating them right now. Both those guys are pretty talented. Those guys are closing the gap because they're getting more work so the biggest thing right now would be the number of snaps behind the center.

    On scoring in the red zone:
    You're not going to have a lot of red zone touchdowns against good teams. Maryland and Virginia Tech have very good defenses. We need to score touchdowns obviously. Had we done that against Maryland we would have won the game. We're going to have to really study some ways to convert one of those drives to a touchdown.

    Mentality of running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller:
    I know they're highly competitive. I know they're both productive, but I think they're more disappointed in the losses than their own individual performance. They're both doing a good job of showing energy and enthusiasm during practice. I've been very impressed with both of them. They have been averaging nearly 170 yards a game and had 131 against Maryland. That's not too bad. We had 153 yards rushing against Maryland. Two years ago we would loved to have that many.

    On injuries:
    Injuries are a part of the game but it's when you lose them and how long they're out of the game. Obviously we've lost key guys with Anthony Waters, Tramaine Billie, Rendrick Taylor, Roman Fry, guys for the season. Of course when you lose some you've got to absorb it and players have to step up.

    On playing N.C. State:
    They're a good defense. They're a team that obviously beat Florida State and Boston College back to back. They have to win this game to go to a bowl game because they have to win out the next three. This is a must win for them and I tell my team this as we prepare for and play on Saturday. We have told our players we are certainly going to get their A game because they have to win out.

    Clemson Two-Deep Depth Chart

    Clemson Offense

    Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

    LT 79 BARRY RICHARDSON 6-7 320 Jr.

    73 Tim DeBeer 6-6 280 *Sr.

    LG68 CHRIS CDUFFMIE 6-5 330 *Jr.

    74 Brandon Pilgrim 6-6 300 *Jr.

    C 62 DUSTIN FRY 6-3 320 *Sr.

    71 Barry Humphries 6-3 280 *Fr.

    RG63 NATHAN BENNETT 6-5 310 *Sr.

    65 Thomas Austin 6-4 305 *Fr.

    RT 75 MARION DUKES 6-4 320 Sr.

    67 Christian Capote 6-4 295 *Jr.

    TE 89 THOMAS HUNTER 6-4 255 *Sr.

    86 Michael Palmer 6-5 230 Fr.

    TE 84 AKEEM ROBINSON 6-5 260 *So.

    82 Durrell Barry 6-4 250 *Fr.

    WR 13 TYLER GRISHAM 5-11 180 So.

    80 Aaron Kelly 6-5 180 *So.

    26 La'Donte Harris 5-11 180 Jr.

    QB 14 WILL PROCTOR 6-2 210 *Sr.

    10 Cullen Harper 6-4 215 *So.

    RB 1 JAMES DAVIS 5-11 205 So.

    28 C.J. Spiller 5-11 190 Fr.

    37 Reggie Merriweather 5-8 210 *Sr.

    FB 41 ALEX PEARSON 6-1 245 *So.

    WR 2 CHANSI STUCKEY 6-0 185 *Gr.

    6 Jacoby Ford 5-9 180 Fr.

    83 Nelson Faerber 5-11 180 *So.

    Clemson Defense

    Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

    DE 94 PHILLIP MERLING6-5 270 So.

    95 Brandon Cannon 6-3 255 *Gr.

    NG97 DORELL SCOTT 6-4 305 *So.

    44 Donnell Clark 6-3 270 *Sr.

    DT 50 JOCK MCKISSIC 6-6 295 So.

    91 Rashaad Jackson 6-3 290 *So.

    57 Antwon Murchison 6-4 275 *Fr.

    BE 93 GAINES ADAMS 6-5 260 *Sr.

    7 Ricky Sapp 6-4 220 Fr.

    SLB 42 MAURICE NELSON 6-2 215 *Jr.

    27 Sadat Chambers 5-11 190 *Fr.

    48 Jeremy Campbell 6-2 215 Fr.

    MLB 43 ANTONIO CLAY 6-0 220 So.

    45 Cortney Vincent 6-1 235 *So.

    WLB 32 NICK WATKINS 6-2 220 *Jr.

    33 Kavell Conner 6-2 230 *Fr.

    CB 12 C.J. GADDIS 6-0 210 *Jr.

    38 Chris Chancellor 5-9 170 *Fr.

    CAT 25 MICHAEL HAMLIN 6-3 200 *So.

    17 Roy Walker 6-3 205 *Jr.

    FS 22 CHRIS CLEMONS 6-1 205 *So.

    23 Chris Russell 6-1 210 *Jr.

    CB 3 DUANE COLEMAN 5-11 195 *Sr.

    18 Crezdon Butler 6-0 185 Fr.

    15 Sergio Gilliam 6-3 185 Sr.

    Clemson Specialists

    Pos. # Player Hgt Wgt Cl.

    PK 7 JAD DEAN 5-11 205 Sr.

    P 30 COLE CHASON 6-0 170 *Gr.

    49 Jimmy Maners 6-1 190 *So.

    KO 30 Cole Chason 6-0 170 *Gr.

    7 Jad Dean 5-11 205 Sr.

    LS 54 Colin Leonard 6-3 230 *Jr.

    59 Nic Riddle 6-2 220 *Sr.

    HO 30 Cole Chason 6-0 170 *Gr.

    PR 6 Jacoby Ford 5-9 180 Fr.

    28 C.J. Spiller 5-11 190 Fr.

    KOR 6 Jacoby Ford 5-9 180 Fr.

    & 28 C.J. Spiller 5-11 190 Fr.

    * - has spent one season as a red-shirt player

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

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