From the opposing sideline

by - Senior Writer -
Sammy Watkins scores a touchdown against NC State last season. (TigerNet Staff)

Clemson has been established as a two-touchdown favorite heading into Thursday’s game against N.C. State, and Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren told the media Monday that he embraces the underdog role.

For many Clemson fans, the Tigers’ last trip to Carter-Finley was a nightmare as a 7th-ranked Clemson team was embarrassed 37-13, part of a late-season slide after an 8-0 start. And for those that watch ACC football, last October's nationally televised 17-16 upset over No. 3 Florida State in Raleigh comes to mind when you think about the Wolfpack and upsets.

Doeren brought up both of those games during Monday’s press conference.

"I just say, 'look guys a lot of people are going to tell you that you don't have a chance in this game, and everyone that has played here knows that you do because of what you did last year with Florida State and the year before when they played Clemson,'" Doeren said. "It doesn't help you win this game - but at least there are guys in the room that played in those games. With the crowd behind us, you never know and I think that's the thing. Our guys are really excited and State has a history of upsetting football teams. Being in the underdog role against a great football team on national television is something we're really excited for. Now we just need to go do it. The key is to not beat yourself first.”

Senior linebacker Zach Gentry said he likes playing as the underdog.

“I think the whole world thinks we're underdogs in this game, but I like that," Gentry said. "I've always thought that was a great thing, coming from where I've been, I'm a underdog. If we're an underdog this game, that's fine. I think we'll take that role to heart and that will be fun for us."

Doeren on playing Clemson

“We are obviously excited for the opportunity to be on national television and play against Clemson. They are a very good and very experienced football team. I think they have seven or eight preseason award watch list guys, and if you look at almost every postseason award, it seems like they’ve got a name on it. We know we are going to have to play really well, and I know our guys are really excited about the opportunity to compete against them.”

Doeren on Clemson’s offense

“They score a lot of points, and they score a lot of points early. They are a team that can score points in bunches, so a fast start is critical for our football team. Anytime you play a team that averages close to 500 yards a game and is balanced like they are – we are similar from a philosophical standpoint. We have to limit the explosive plays and swarm the football. Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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is a great player. We know that we have to do a great job with him, and he runs the ball well when they ask him to. Their ground may be the most improved part over last year. We have to do a good job of understanding all the fits and their screen game and tackling in space. That is the key for us defensively.”

Doeren on Clemson’s defense

“No matter what the down and distance is, they will pin their ears back. They aren’t really a max blitz team as much as they are bringing five from all over the place. I’ve known Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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for a long time, and I know they will be sound defensively and very well-coached. For us, we have to have the ability to throw and the play-action game and the screen game, the nakeds, and the way we can move the pocket against these guys will help us. They have a great pass rusher in (Vic) Beasley, who had a great game against State last year and is off to a good start. You can tell they have been in that defense for two years – they are playing defense better. If you watch film from their bowl game until now they have made a lot of strides. Any time you play a great team, especially with us as young as are, it will be a great gauge to see where we are.”

On Clemson’s secondary

“They don’t cover very long because their guys are on the quarterback. I haven’t seen anybody just stand back there and pat the football. I think if you can protect the long enough then you can see if they can do it. They have had a few busted coverages but they have played pretty well. When your secondary is getting a great pass rush, it helps them.”

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