Preview: NC State Offense
NC State has had its struggles this year offensively. Much like the Tiger’s offense this season, State has been plagued by turnovers. State has thrown 7 interceptions and fumbled 14 times losing 10 of them. They are minus-10 in the turnover ratio. In the first seven games, State is averaging 24 points a game.
Junior quarterback Jay Davis has started playing much better the last couple of weeks. In fact, he is the only ACC quarterback to pass for over 200 yards in four consecutive games this year. He had to carry the offense against Maryland, when running back T. A. McClendon went down with an injury. Davis played his best game of the year against Miami completing 20 of 38 passes for 269 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Last week, State tried to mix things up by bringing in Marcus Stone, the more mobile quarterback, but Stone will likely be unavailable this week due to an injury. Often first year quarterbacks will play much better at home than on the road, the atmosphere in Death Valley on Saturday could be a factor against Davis.
When State’s offense has been most effective, it has been when McClendon plays well. McClendon rushed for over 100 yards in the first half against Miami, and average 9 yards a carry for the game. The problem has been, it is not known when McClendon will play a full game. Injuries have seriously been an issue with McClendon. A nagging hamstring injury has followed McClendon this year and is always a threat to flare up. There is no doubt he has the talent, and John Lovett’s defense will have to stop McClendon first and foremost on Saturday. If McClendon goes down, the carries will fall to true freshman Bobby Washington or sophomore Reggie Davis. Washington has seen the most carries behind McClendon, but has been ineffective only averaging 2.9 yards a carry.
Receiver is where State’s most dangerous playmakers are. Richard Washington is a very talented receiver. He has good hands and speed, and he is not afraid to go over the middle. This will be a tough match up for the Clemson secondary all day long. Tramain Hall is the more versatile threat. Hall is very similar to Virginia’s Alvin Pearman. He can line up at running back or wide receiver. Screens and crossing patterns have been what State has tried to use this year to be successful in the passing game.
The offensive line for State is a mash unit right now. Starting center Jed Paulsen went down with a season ending injury early in the season. Back up center Leroy Harris will not be available for this weekend’s game. Luke Lathan will get the start on Saturday. Clemson may try and put a lot of pressure on the young center Saturday by blitzing from all angles. Also, the center makes all the calls for the offensive line, and once again crowd noise could be a factor. Derek Morris the starting right tackle is also out for this weekend’s game.