Keys To Victory
1) Strike Early - NC State was able to build some confidence with the win on the road at Georgia Tech, but if Clemson can strike early, the doubt will come back into play. More importantly, it will put a shot of confidence in Clemson. Clemson has not scored first any of the three losses. This team needs a shot in the arm early. Whether it be a big play on offense, defense, or special teams.
Review: The Tigers delivered an early knockout punch to NC State. The Tigers jumped out to their largest lead of the season at 14-0. The Tigers cruised to 28-10 halftime lead and never looked back. The defense was able to play with a lead for the first time all year.
2) First Down Yardage – Clemson will be in for a long night, if they do not control the down and distance. The offensive line will have a difficult time stopping NC State’s defensive line in third and long. The Clemson defense needs to force NC State to make plays on third down. The Wolfpack offense is not clicking on all cylinders, and the defense does not need to give them any breaks.
Review: The Tigers converted 8 of 15 third opportunities. The offense was able to stay away from third and long most of the night. The defense held NC State to close to 20% on third down conversions. The success on the ground allowed the Tigers to be productive on third down.
3) Remain Confident – Coach Bowden addressed a concern that the team could clam up in a close game. This team needs to remember they can win close games. Before Miami, no one thought this team could lose if they had a chance to win in the fourth quarter. The swagger late in the game needs to be there.
Review: The team's confidence impressed me. This was not the same team we saw the last two weeks. The attitude of this Clemson team resembled the one from the first three games. There was no quit in this team, and they pounded an NC State that could take lesson in character from Clemson.
4) Stay Disciplined – Much like Maryland, the Wolfpack likes to push the issue after the whistle. Clemson has stayed away from careless penalties through the first five games. NC State will try to attack Clemson mentally, but the Tigers have to remember what they do well. Stay away from the extracurricular activity and take a 15-yard penalty if State wants to give one.
Review: The Tigers had a season high on penalties. They stayed away from extracurricular activity, as the big lead cooled NC State's enthusisasm. The penalties were a small disappointment, but there was not any penalties that stopped drives. The roughing the kicker that allowed NC State to score was a horrible call that in film review Gaines Adams will not be held accountable for.
5) Score Touchdowns – It is great that Jad Dean has been the most reliable kicker Coach Bowden has had, but this team needs touchdowns. You will not win many games on the road stalling at the two-yard line. Goal line opportunities need to be converted into touchdowns.
Review: The four touchdowns were the most Clemson had scored in a game all season. James Davis led the way with his two touchdowns, as his running made the Tigers very difficult to stop inside the 20. Charlie Whitehurst had two nice touchdown throws to Curtis Baham and Bobby Williamson.