At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden discussed the future of the Tiger offense with Woodrow Dantzler at quarterback as the Tigers prepare to take on North Carolina State. Against North Carolina last Saturday, Dantzler passed for 131-yards and a touchdown while rushing for 82 yards, including a spectacular 56-yard run that sealed the game for the Tigers.
“One thing Woody brings is running ability,” Bowden said. “That run he made was an impressive run. He broke a lot of tackles, he made a great cut, and he ran like a tailback. That’s the longest run we’ve had this year and it was by our quarterback. Those running backs ought to be buying Woody lunch.”
Bowden said that Dantzler’s ability to tuck the ball in and run adds another element to the Tiger offensive attack as the team prepares to take on North Carolina State in Raleigh on Saturday night.
“There will be a wrinkle or two because of Woody’s running ability. There’s always the ability of the option when you have a guy like Woody at quarterback. That’s usually what defenses hate because they have to play assignment football. Somebody’s got the quarterback, somebody’s got the dive, and somebody’s got the pitch,” he said.
In preparation for North Carolina State, Bowden said that the Tiger offense will have to make adjustments to counter the eight defenders that the Wolfpack typically drops into coverage.
“One of their base fronts is to rush three and drop eight and I’ve got five eligible receivers- that’s the most they’ll give you in college football. Eight can cover five pretty good. They’re not a lot of good routes you can draw up when they drop eight,” said Bowden.
With so many Wolfpack defenders poised to stop the pass, the Tigers will need to establish a running game early to be effective.
“You’ve got to punch some runs in there, there’s no doubt about that. If you get behind and they’re used to dropping eight, that’s not going to be real good,” Bowden said.
NC State’s three-man rush should allow Clemson quarterbacks to have more time in the pocket, according to Bowden.
“If they’re going to rush three, then I’ve got five blocking three. I can double team two of them and single up the one, so that gives me more times to find holes in the secondary,” he said.
The Tiger’s special teams’ preparation will be critical for Saturday’s game. The Wolfpack punt-blocking unit has been a menace thus far, blocking three punts against Texas and another against South Carolina. Bowden said that the Tigers know what to expect when punting the ball.
“To be honest, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise because it makes you prepare much harder. Sometimes you get lulled to sleep if a team hasn’t done that, but the fact that they’ve blocked four, with two or three for touchdowns, that gets your attention.”
With five of Clemson’s next seven games being played on the road, Bowden stressed that the Tigers need to learn quickly how to win away from home.
“When you’re building a program, or setting a foundation, or establishing a program, one of the steps is winning on the road. That’s one of the steps we’ve got to take: winning on the road,” he said.