|by David Hood|
Let’s start off with this Thursday’s game against N.C. State – I know that everybody wants to put Clemson on upset alert and that everybody remembers what happened up there two years ago when a No. 7 Clemson team got embarrassed by a 37-13 score. And let’s face, it wasn’t even that close.
I remember standing on the sidelines before that game and thinking how Clemson just looked flat, even in the pregame warm-ups. That team, as we know now, had lost focus and was playing without Sammy Watkins, who was injured the week before against Wake Forest.
Could that kind of ambush happen again? Hey, the Pack have done it before to teams. But this time around, there is no Mike Glennon, no Tobias Palmer (who was wide open on his long TD reception from Glennon), no David Amerson and no George Bryan.
The Pack also have issues at quarterback – Brandon Mitchell won the job in fall camp for a reason, and now Pack head coach Dave Doeren turns to Colorado St. transfer Pete Thomas. Thomas isn’t a big running threat, but he can move the chains.
I really think Doeren’s game plan in this one might be to slow things down and see if the Pack can run the football and control the clock, despite his history of running a tempo-based offense. I’m obviously not a football coach, but it’s what I would do. I would understand that they probably won’t win against the Tigers in a track meet, but could slow it down and keep it close.
However, quarterback Tajh Boyd told me this week that this team is dialed in right now, and that practice last week wasn’t easy on anyone. This coaching staff does a fantastic job of keeping the egos in check. Unless Clemson just absolutely goes in the tank, I truly don’t know that it will be all that close.
This team managed to win at Boston College, at Duke and at Wake Forest last season (Wake was on a Thursday night, just four days after a win over Virginia Tech), handling their business each time. I expect more of the same Thursday night.
*I was out at Daniel last week, and got to see Jae’lon Oglesby again. The kid is a dynamic playmaker, and the Lions have been using him out at wide receiver a good bit to take advantage of his speed. He is lethal on the quick screens, and I’ve heard that he might be used in much the same way at Clemson. Every time I watch him play, there are at least two or three times a game I just stand there and say, “Wow, how did he do that?”
Speaking of that game – Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell sat together in the stands during the game. Swinney’s oldest son Will plays wide receiver for the Lions (No. 25 in your program) and got to play late. He actually had two nice blocks that set up first downs.
*The loss of wide receiver Charone Peake hurts from a depth standpoint, but I like what Adam Humphries brings to the table, especially on third down. Humphries is adept at finding that open spot in the zone and sitting in it, something I think Tajh Boyd has missed this year with the loss of DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron “third down” Brown.
One observer who was at practice last week told me that everyone knew that Peake’s injury was serious as soon as it happened. He said that the scream that emanated from Peake seemed to come from within his soul and raised the hair on the back of people’s arms. Wishing you a speedy recovery Charone.
*Don’t look now, but that former walk on kicker that people fussed so much about back in 2010 just might become Clemson’s career scoring leader Thursday night. Chandler Catanzaro needs just eight points to surpass Aaron Hunt’s record of 329 points. Over his last 21 games, Catanzaro has made 28 out of his last 29 field goals.
I was standing about thirty feet away from Catanzaro in overtime at Auburn at 2010 – I went to the sidelines with a few minutes to go in regulation – when he missed the kick following the penalty. At that point, I wondered how we would respond. Kickers can have fragile psyches, and missing a kick like that on national television had to have stung. But the graduate kicker out of Greenville has responded in a big way, and now might become Clemson’s career scoring leader. Who woulda thunk that back in 2010?
The 2008 win over the Pack turned out to be Tommy Bowden’s last ACC win at Clemson.
*For those that like to see the bad in everything – N.C. State knocked off Florida St. last year in Carter-Finley. Florida St. was ranked third nationally at the time, and Clemson is ranked third nationally this week. Also, the Tigers are just 2-9 all-time in ESPN Thursday night games. However, Clemson defeated Wake Forest 42-13 last year in Winston-Salem on October 25th.
The Tigers play one more Thursday night game this season, and that is in November against Georgia Tech. I watched a little bit of Georgia Tech last weekend, and they look like they are humming on offense with quarterback Vad Lee, who threw for four touchdowns last week. I’ve seen North Carolina and Virginia Tech and some of the others in the Coastal, and the Jackets might be the class of that division, along with Miami. I know it’s early, but all of a sudden that game is starting to loom large.
David Hood can be reached at email@example.com