QUARTERBACK- While Woodrow Dantzler’s first effort of the season at starting quarterback wasn’t spectacular, Dantzler performance was good enough for the Tigers to win. Dantzler’s interception in the third quarter was critical, but for an inexperienced sophomore, Woody’s overall performance showed that he has the ability to get the job done.
RUNNING BACKS- The Tiger running game started strong, with Travis Zachery rumbling for 46-yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. As for the final three- quarters, N.C. State’s coaches should be credited for making defensive adjustments that effectively shut down the Tiger runners. Regardless, Clemson needs to find a degree of consistency in the running game to take pressure off Dantzler.
RECEIVERS- The trio of Rod Gardner, Mal Lawyer, and Brian Wofford came through with another solid performance for the Tigers. Tiger receivers, particularly Wofford, were wide open in the middle of the field on a number of occasions but Dantzler failed to deliver the ball. In short, a good day for the Clemson wide-outs could have been even better if Dantzler’s wouldn’t have missed a few open men.
OFFENSIVE LINE- N.C. State’s frequent blitzing presented problems for the Tiger offensive line. Wolfpack defenders consistently harassed Dantzler while effectively plugging up the running lanes. While the offensive line showed progress, there's still room for improvement.
DEFENSIVE LINE- The blame for the Tiger’s defensive meltdown starts with defensive line play. Clemson allowed Wolfpack quarterback Jamie Barnette more than enough time to pick apart the Tiger secondary. The Wolfpack offensive line, a unit that had struggled mightily in its previous five efforts, looked like a group of All-Americans against Clemson. Unless immediate improvements are made, Maryland will run all over the Tigers next weekend.
LINEBACKERS- Minus a few big plays by Keith Adams and Chad Carson, the Clemson linebacking corps did little to turn back the N.C. State attack. Missed tackles and lackluster coverage by Tiger linebackers only added to the Clemson defensive woes.
SECONDARY- Everybody needs a vacation sometimes, and it appears that the Clemson defensive backs took theirs Saturday night in Raleigh. After playing four nearly flawless games to begin the season, the Tiger secondary was toasted early and often by Jamie Barnette and his band of relatively unknown receivers. Clemson’s secondary blew coverages, missed tackles, and committed silly penalties, allowing a previously pathetic looking Wolfpack offense to explode for 35-points. On the bright side, at least Clemson didn’t spot N.C. State as many points as William and Mary did (38).
SPECIAL TEAMS- With the exception of Mal Lawyer’s critical fumble of a Wolfpack punt, Clemson’s special teams played perhaps their best game thus far. For the first time this season, Tiger kickers went an entire game without missing a field goal. The punt and kick coverage was solid while Ryan Romano and the punt team avoided the lethal Wolfpack punt rush.
COACHING- Offensively, the Clemson game plan was excellent. Even with the inexperienced Dantzler at quarterback, the Tigers kept the Wolfpack off-balance while amassing 368-yards of offense. The defense, however, left a great deal to be desired. N.C. State repeatedly burned the Clemson defense with passes over the middle and the Tigers never seemed to make the adjustments to stop them. Jamie Barnette was rarely pressured and Wolfpack runners ran wild. In short, Mike O’Cain’s offensive staff took Reggie Herring’s guys to town.
Grade: C (A- for offense, D- for defense)