When the N.C. State’s offensive players see orange, their eyes light up.
In their first five games, senior quarterback Jamie Barnette and the N.C. State offense struggled to move the football, ranking dead last in the ACC and 109th in the nation in total offense.
Solution for the Wolfpack’s offensive ineptitude: bring in the Clemson defense.
After torching the Tigers for 374- passing yards in last year’s 46-39 Wolfpack victory, Barnette and friends again lit up the Clemson defense on Saturday night, this time for 350-total yards as N.C. State outlasted the Tigers 35-31 in an offensive slugfest.
Barnette led Wolfpack effort with 215-yards passing and four touchdowns while Rahshon Spikes ran through the Tiger defensive line for 104-yards and a score as N.C. State (4-2, 1-2 ACC) snapped a two game losing skid.
After strong performances in its first four games, the Clemson defense offered little resistance to the Wolfpack offensive attack, allowing N.C. State to move the ball almost at will in the final three-quarters.
“Over-shooting the gap, missed tackles, blown coverages- any time you do that against a great team, they’re going to capitalize. We just killed ourselves out there today,” said junior safety Robert Carswell.
“Today it came down the defense. We didn’t get the stops. They made a lot of great plays and we had a lot of busts. The defense didn’t step up and play,” said linebacker Braxton K. Williams.
In his first start of the year, Clemson quarterback, Woodrow Dantzler turned in a respectable performance, connecting on 23-41 attempts for 284-yards and two touchdowns.
“For his first start, he looked like he did pretty good. He’s not the reason we lost the game,” said Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.
Dantzler offered a much harsher assessment of his play after the game, pointing out that his performance was marred by two interceptions, with one coming inside the Wolfpack 20-yard line.
“I didn’t play as well as I expected to, just too many mistakes on my part out there. When you make mistakes against a good team, you can’t expect to win,” Dantzler said.
Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez was far from pleased with his offensive unit’s effort. While Clemson racked up 368-yards of total offense, penalties, turnovers, and poor decision making killed a number of Tiger drives.
“Missed blocking assignments, missed reads, wrong routes, wrong timing out of the quarterback- you name it, there wasn’t a position out there that didn’t have mental screw-ups. We should have scored 50 points, easy,” said Rodriguez.
“We just lacked discipline,” Dantzler said. “When we settle down and stop beating ourselves, it’s going to be amazing how good we can be.”
As for now, Bowden says the Tigers (2-3, 2-1 ACC) need to regroup.
“Right now, we’re not a very good team. Not after what happened tonight,” he said.
NOTES: With his 30-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, Mal Lawyer went over 1,000-yards in career reception yardage. Wofford joins teammate Brian Wofford among others as one of only 15 players in Clemson history to break the 1,000-yard mark.