Dan Scott: Clemson vs. NC State Prediction


by - Correspondent -
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No fooling around this week. Three straight losses have me in danger of falling seriously deep into the same kind of funk that tarnished my 2004 season.



Another loss this week and the ol' Magic Helmet gets sent off for repairs.



CLEMSON (2-3, 1-3 ACC) at N.C. STATE (2-2, 1-2)



When Clemson Has The Ball

On paper, the Wolfpack is as good up front as any team Clemson has played this season. Defensive ends Manny Lawson and Mario Williams, along with defensive tackle John McCargo, can wreak havoc with opposing offenses when they set their individual and collective minds to it. Behind the defensive line, State loves to play press man-to-man coverage in hopes of taking away the higher percentage short passes. The strategy has worked to a degree - the Wolfpack limits opponents to just 40.3 percent pass completion percentage. If the Tigers are to be successful, they'll have to establish the run and find a way to complete enough of those lower-percentage downfield passes to loosen up the 'Pack's defense.

ADVANTAGE - N.C. State



When N.C. State Has The Ball

Remember how much trouble the Tigers had with Maryland's big tight end a few weeks back? Well folks, meet State tight end T.J. Williams. He leads the Wolfpack with 18 catches for 216 yards, and most think he'll be playing on Sunday's before too long. With Clemson's struggles defending the pass, this matchup doesn't seem to bode well for the Tigers. Quarterback Jay Davis has been much more consistent so far this season, and freshman running back Toney Baker looks like a future star.

ADVANTAGE - N.C. State



Special Teams

State's John Deraney handles both punting and kicking for Chuck Amato, and has been spectacular. He hasn't missed an extra point or field goal, and is averaging 42 yards per punt. Kick returner Darrell Blackman leads the ACC, and is fourth nationally, in kickoff returns at 35.5 yards per attempt. Clemson's punting game continued to struggle vs. Wake Forest, including having it's second punt blocked this season.

ADVANTAGE - N.C. State



Coaching

Amato comes across as more style than substance. This is the kind of challenge that Clemson offensive coordinator Rob Spence should relish.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson



Bottom line, though State would appear to have the advantage on paper in many categories, I expect Clemson to play well and be involved in another game coming right down to the wire. But never having won an ESPN game on Thursday night, the Tigers will have to show me.



THE PICK

N.C. State 28, Clemson 27

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