NC State Preview

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NC State Preview

I consider Thursday night a dangerous game for Clemson.  On one hand I realize Clemson is a 13-point favorite.  However, I consider this one dangerous because of what we don't know about the opponent.

Is State the team we saw play well in the first half of its opener against Louisiana Tech or is it the team that had to get a last minute field goal to beat Richmond?

NC State comes into Thursday night's game as an unknown for a few reasons.  First is the new staff.  Second is the amount of newcomers on its roster.  Last is the schedule it has played.

Dave Doeren is in his first year in Raleigh after two successful seasons at Northern Illinois.  He is a high-energy coach that is known for his fast break offense.  A little known fact about Doeren is that he is undefeated at home (14-0) in his first two-plus seasons as a head coach.

Matt Canada is State's new offensive coordinator, who also coached with Doeren at Northern Illinois.  He has also coached at Indiana, Butler and Wisconsin.  Additionally, Canada is the quarterback coach who has had to change his offense based upon the injury to the team’s starter.

Dave Huxtable is the new defensive coordinator at NC State.  He is familiar with the ACC after stints at North Carolina and Georgia Tech.  Huxtable has also coached at Western Kentucky, East Carolina, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh.

State got off to a great start offensively in its opening game but lost the starting quarterback to an injury.  Second team quarterback Pete Thomas had to take over and the offense has slipped slightly.  The 6’-6”, 235 pound signal caller is 39 of 58 for 449 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Shadrach Thornton had a terrific freshman season but he is been suspended and in the dog house.  Freshman Matt Dayes leads the team with127 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  Tom Creecy has 103 yards rushing and one touchdown.

Bryan Underwood and Quinton Payton return as starters at wide receiver, but freshman Marquez Valdes-Scantling has 12 receptions for 174 yards to lead the team.  Rashard Smith has 12 catches for 145 yards.

State has three returning starters on the offensive line, including left tackle Robert Crisp, left guard Robert Christophe and right tackle Tyson Chandler.

Defensively, State returns both starting defensive tackles in Thomas Teal and T.Y.McGill.  Darryl Cato-Bishop returns at defensive end.

The only returning starter at linebacker is DJ Green.  The only returning starter in the secondary is cornerback Dontae Johnson

Linebacker Robert Caldwell leads the team with 18 tackles.  Three defensive backs are next in terms of tackles: Hakeem Jones has 12 tackles while Juston Burris and Jarvis Byrd have 10 tackles.

State returns one of the top place-kickers in the ACC in Niklas Slade.  Last season Slade was 13 of 23 on field goals but is 7-7 this season.

Punter Wil Baumann returns after averaging 38.9 yards per punt last season.

In the game against Louisiana Tech the Wolfpack got off to a great start.  They had 542 yards of total offense including 237 on the ground and 305 passing.  In the Richmond game the Pack had 444 yards of total offense, with 188 yards on the ground and 256 yards through the air.

Here are a few other notes that come to mind:

*Like Clemson, State had this past week off to prepare for this Thursday night affair.

*The last two times NC State hosted a top 10 opponent it pulled off the upset.  Two years ago State beat seventh ranked Clemson 37-13.  Last year the Pack upset third-ranked Florida State 17-16.

*Clemson has been victorious in three of the past four games played in Raleigh.  The Tigers have won four of the past six in Carter-Finley Stadium.

*In last year's game NC State passed for 493 yards.

*Clemson had 328 yards rushing and 426 yards passing in the 62-48 win in Death Valley last season.

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