November 14, 2009

Caroline's Tiger Pause: Clemson vs. NC State

Last week's game in Death Valley was awesome! The fourth quarter the Valley was absolutely rocking. The Tigers made several huge mistakes (hello kicking game) but they exerted their will in the 4th quarter and overcame Clemson's tendency to beat themselves in big games. I was so proud of the Tigers and I felt we took so many steps in the right direction Saturday night. I saw a team that would not be denied their chance to go to the ACC Championship game. And Spiller, well he was amazing as always. I was also very proud to see CJ and Jacoby become the top all purpose yardage teammates in the history of college football. Luckily they have several games to pad their numbers further. And how about the whole stadium singing “We Will Rock You”--that makes my list of favorite moments in Death Valley. The night was spectacular and we are in the driver's seat to win the ACC Atlantic. NC State is one of the last remaining obstacles to overcome in our quest for the Atlantic.

NC State has a very talented and high powered offense, very similar to Florida State, but they lack the 'Noles athleticism. They do have some very talented players, particularly Russell Wilson, their terrific quarterback who has a 24-9 td to interception ratio, and is a threat throwing and running the ball. However Ponder had only thrown 3 picks all year before last Saturday's game. Clemson's defense has a knack for forcing great quarterbacks to make mistakes and Clemson's secondary is going to make the most of every miscue.

The secondary will be the main story in this game. Clemson is tied for the national lead in interceptions as a team with 19 and DeAndre McDaniel is tied for the individual national lead in interceptions with 8. State's secondary has been the achilles heel on an ineffective defense riddled with injuries. I just do not think that NC State's secondary will be able to handle the athleticism on our offense—particularly with Spiller and Ford. And Parker has improved significantly in our last 4 contests. Parker already has the most passing yards and touchdowns by a freshman ever at Clemson. Parker is still making his share of mistakes, but what I really like about him is his mistakes do not seem to bother him. So far he has appeared to be able to shake mistakes off and to not let them get into his head. That is one of the single most important qualities a quarterback can possess.

The only cause of major concern is the kicking game. I have never witnessed anything like what happened last week. Let us just hope we got all of our bad kicks out of our system. Spencer Benton will be getting the start over Richard Jackson because of Jackson's current academic issues.

The area on special teams Clemson should be able to exploit is in the return game. NC State has an important decision to make—to kick to Spiller or give us the ball near midfield. State's defense desperately needs to win the field position battle. Their defense cannot handle us consistently starting with a short field, but NC State is also last in the conference in kickoff coverage. I think it will be interesting to see which gamble they take. I hope they will kick to CJ so he can keep his yardage up, but I would not be surprised to see them avoid him at all costs.

I know everyone is on alert for the let down game, but I think this is a new Clemson team-I think they absolutely believe in themselves. C.J. Spiller, who returned for his senior season so he could play in that game on Dec. 5th, is making sure his teammates don’t have a let down. All of our seniors have been displaying great leadership in keeping Clemson in the hunt for the ACC Championship. And I do not think that Clemson has overlooked State at all. I think NC State has had Clemson's full attention and I think there is going to be a beat down in Raleigh. This game blows up in the second half and Clemson wins big—Go Tigers!!


1 comment :

Erin said...

Another great article! Goooooooo Tigers!!

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