QUARTERBACK- In the football equivalent of Michael Jordan playing in a church-league basketball game, Woodrow Dantzler was truly a man amongst boys against NC State. Dantzler’s near-perfect passing combined with another magnificent rushing performance should put him right at the top of the Heisman list.
RUNNING BACKS- While Travis Zachery’s 43 yards on 15 carries don’t jump off the stat sheet, the senior running back turned in another excellent all-around performance against the Wolfpack. Zachary consistently made key downfield blocks to spring Dantzler while again proving to be a more than capable receiver out of the backfield. Bernard Rambert showed his potential as a breakaway threat with 43 yards on eight carries despite having a 53-yard run negated by a block in the back penalty.
RECEIVERS- Derrick Hamilton was again exceptional, both in his timely and solid pass catching and his superb blocking down the field. Clearly, Hamilton is rapidly evolving into a star-caliber threat for the Tiger offense. Airese Curry pulled down an impressive 79-yard bomb from Dantzler while tight end Ben Hall emerged as another capable weapon in the Clemson arsenal with three receptions and his first career touchdown.
OFFENSIVE LINE- The Tiger offensive line followed up an impressive outing against Georgia Tech with another solid performance against NC State. Dantzler enjoyed exceptional protection for most of the day while Clemson runners found adequate room to run behind the Tiger front five.
DEFENSIVE LINE- If William Perry was The Refrigerator, then 6-6, 320-pound redshirt freshman Donnell Washington could very well be The Meat Locker. Washington smothered NC State quarterback Phillip Rivers for two sacks while consistently clogging the middle of the line for Wolfpack runners. Clearly, the Tiger defensive front came through with their best game of the season on Saturday, limiting NC State to a mere 56-yards rushing on 21 carries.
LINEBACKERS- John Leake continues to show star potential from the linebacker spot, again leading the team with 14 tackles and a handful of big hits. Chad Carson came through with a sack while Rodney Thomas produced a monster hit for loss and a PBU as the Tiger linebackers continued to show improvement.
SECONDARY- Despite a few shining moments, the Tiger secondary again appeared to be out of position on a number of scoring plays. While this unit has made some positive strides since the first of the season, this young defensive backfield still has plenty of room for improvement.
SPECIAL TEAMS- Wynn Kopp broke out of a slump with two punts of 46 and 44 yards against the Wolfpack while Brian Mance was effective on punt returns. Unfortunately, a bad snap on a punt that led to a Wolfpack touchdown stains an otherwise respectable showing by the Tiger special teams.
COACHING- Offensively, the Tigers thoroughly confounded the NC State defense, with Clemson attacking the Wolfpack from nearly every skill position. Quite simply, the Tigers were all but unstoppable in one of Clemson’s more impressive offensive performances in recent memory. Defensively, the Tigers were surprisingly tough up front, effectively dominating the line of scrimmage for most of the game. The strong play of the defensive line allowed Reggie Herring to hold off on the blitz, a factor that helped to take some pressure off the Clemson secondary. It appeared that the Tiger defense was far less predictable against the Wolfpack, and for that Herring should be commended.
Grades: Offense- A+ Defense- B+