Clemson Football: Oppo Research – NC State Wolfpack

Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis (13) sacks Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) during the second quarter at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022.Ncaa Football Clemson At Wake Forest
Clemson defensive tackle Tyler Davis (13) sacks Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman (10) during the second quarter at Truist Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina Saturday, September 24, 2022.Ncaa Football Clemson At Wake Forest /

If you read the Atlantic Coast Conference Power Rankings through Week 4 earlier this week, you would know that this Week 5 game pits the #1 Clemson football vs. #2 team on the list.   NC State comes to Death Valley for the marquee match-up in the conference.  And if last week’s victory versus Wake Forest provides any foreshadowing at all, this game should be a dandy!

Clemson did a ton of great things a week ago at Wake, however there was plenty that left a lot to be desired, especially on the back-end of the defense.  Hopefully Coach Mike Reed will get his position group squared away and some of the injured defensive backs return versus a very talented and, dare I say, well-coached Wolfpack team

As was the game last week, this week’s match-up pits two undefeated squads, NC State and Clemson, both at 4-0.

Here is your preview of the #10 ranked NC State Wolfpack from Raleigh, NC:

Opponent: North Carolina State Wolfpack  – 10/1 7:30pm EST – Clemson, SC Memorial Stadium

Head Coach Dave Doeren is not looked at fondly by Clemson fans, especially after leading the Pack to a double-OT win a season ago.  Doeren enters his 10th year as the head man of NC State.  After a few early years of struggles, he has righted the ship and has had a highly competitive team and program in the ACC.


Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck enters his 35th year of college coaching and 3rd with the Wolfpack.  Before NC State, he led offenses for Texas, Ohio State, Nebraska and Kansas.  Known as a tremendous schemer, Beck’s offense was hard to stop for the Tigers in 2021.  Some key losses on the offensive line and wide receiver position have led to some holes, however the Pack is still unblemished so far.

North Carolina State is 4-0 on the season.  They’ve beaten East Carolina (21-20), Charleston Southern (55-3), Texas Tech (27-14) and UConn (41-10).

Here is a look at the projected starters on Offense:

Quarterback – Devin Leary – Junior – 80-125 890 yards; 9 TDs, 2 INTs

Running Back – Jordan Houston – Junior – 33 att. 151 yards; 6 rec. 82 yards 1 TD

Running Back – Demie Sumo-Karngbaye – Soph – 39 att. 255 yds, 3 TDs; 6 rec. 102 yds 1 TD

H-Back – Chris Toudle – Soph – 6 rec. 63 yds, 1 TD

Wide Receiver – Cedric Seabrough – Freshman – 1 rec. 4 yds

Wide Receiver – Devin Carter – Junior – 9 rec. 117 yds, 1 TD

Slot Receiver – Thayer Thomas – Graduate 15 rec. 217 yds, 2 TDs

Left Tackle – Anthony Belton – Soph

Left Guard – Chandler Zavala – Graduate

Center – Grant Gibson – Graduate

Right Guard – Dylan McMahon – Soph

Right Tackle – Timothy McKay – Graduate

Preseason Player of the Year Devin Leary is one of the best returning quarterbacks in the conference.  The New Jersey native is usually very protective of the football, having minimal turnovers over the course of his starting career.

State runs a pro-style offense for the most part.  They want to run the football first and foremost and they tout two very good running backs in Demie Sumo-Karngbaye and Justin Houston.  Combining for 400 yards through 4 games.

Short passing routes are also on the menu for the Pack as an extension of the running game.  Doeren and Beck are known to throw in a trick-play or two, and have at least one flea-flicker in the last three games versus the Tigers.  Good defensive back vision will be necessary or they will be the victims of a gimmick.

Gone is catch-all Emeke Emezie who nearly single-handedly beat the Tigers a year ago.  However, Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter were also loads for Clemson in that game and they are both back.  Thomas is the clear leader at receiver with nearly double the catches of the next receiver (Carter).  State also utilizes the running backs out of the backfield in the passing game, and we all know Clemson’s struggles with screens in the early part of the year.  Expect to see a lot of them early in the game.

The offensive line is extremely experienced, led by three graduates in Chandler Zavala, pre-season All-ACC Center Grant Gibson and Timothy McKay.  A pair of sophomores man the Left Tackle and Right Guard positions in Anthony Belton and Dylan McMahon respectively.


Onto the defensive side of the ball: Defensive Coordinator, Tony Gibson enters his fourth season in Raleigh, and 28th season in coaching.  Gibson has been at Michigan, Pitt, Arizona and West Virginia before NC State.  Gibson has been known to employ a 3-3-5 zone-heavy defense, and this season has the players to cause opponents fits.

Here is a look at the projected starters for the defense:

Defensive End – Davin Vann – Soph – 7 Tackles, 1 Sack

Nose Tackle – Cory Durden – Grad – 4 Tackles

Defensive End – Savion Jackson – Junior – 11 Tackles, 3 TFLs

Middle Linebacker – Isaiah Moore – Grad – 12 Tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 Sack

Will Linebacker – Payton Wilson – Junior – 13 Tackles, 0.5 TFLs

Sam Linebacker – Drake Thomas – Junior – 24 Tackles, 2 TFLs

Nickel – Tyler Baker-Williams – Senior – 6 Tackles, 1.5 TFLs, 1 Sack

Cornerback – Shyheim Battle – Soph – 8 Tackles, 1 INT

Strong Safety – Cyrus Fagan – Grad – 16 Tackles, 0.5 TFLs

Free Safety – Tanner Ingle – Senior – 20 Tackles, 2 TFLs

Cornerback – Derrek Pitts Jr. – Soph – 17 Tackles

NC State enters the game as the 13th ranked defense in efficiency in the nation, and has been lauded throughout the off-season and into the first four weeks.  Led by linebackers Payton Wilson and Drake Thomas, this will arguably be the best front 7 that the Tigers will play on the season.

They have 9 takeaways on the season with 7 interceptions and two fumble recoveries and a +4 in the turnover battle on the season.

***Clemson needs to take care of the ball in order to have a chance Saturday night in the Valley.

Here are the projected starters on Special Teams:

Punter – Shane McDonough – Grad – 41.1 yard average

Place Kicker – Chris Dunn – Senior – 5-5, long of 48 yards (4 of 4 between 40-49 yards)

Punt Returner – Thayer Thomas – Grad – 18.5 yard average

Kick Returner – Julian Gray – Freshman – 15.5 yard average

Undefeated Clemson football takes on the undefeated North Carolina State Wolfpack in a battle of ACC Atlantic teams in Death Valley on Saturday night

On paper, NC State should be the most talented team that Clemson will face this season.  They are really talented in all phases of the game.  There are stars all over the field for the Pack and this will likely be a really good football game Saturday night in Death Valley.

Everyone has heard all week about the weather being a factor.  There will be some rain at some point before Saturday night, but the latest forecast has Ian going to the north and reportedly will lead to a dry Saturday night.  Wind may still be a factor, and with these two defenses, scoring should be at a premium.  With all that being said, I still cannot pick against the Tigers.

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