Jeff Scott has a simple answer as to why No. 3 Clemson has had so much success against NC State’s defense the last two years.
“We have made plays. I think that has been the biggest thing,” the Tigers co-offensive coordinator said.
Clemson, who will host NC State on Saturday at high noon in Death Valley, has not just made plays it has made a lot of plays. In the two games, in which the Tigers outscored NC State by a combined score of 97-41, they have scored eight touchdowns by 24 yards or more.
Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) averaged 6.2 yards per play in 2014 against the Wolfpack in a 41-0 victory, and then 7.8 last year in a 56-41 win in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“We have gone back and watched the last two years. They have been talented and have been right there every year, but the difference is our guys have made the plays downfield,” Scott said.
The Tigers have totaled 1,116 yards in the two games.
“We have had a bunch of deep ball opportunities that we connected on the last two years and that opened up a few of the runs as it went. Ultimately, that’s what you have to do. You put guys in position and then we have to make plays that are there,” Scott said.
One guy who has helped Clemson make those plays is quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Gainesville, Georgia native threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 62 yards and two more scores in the 2014 games. Then in last season’s meeting in Raleigh he did even better as he rushed for 54 yards and a score, while throwing for 383 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-41 victory.
Watson ran for a 24-yard touchdown and then threw TD-passes of 57, 42, 40, 35 and 36 yards to five different receivers–Hunter Renfrow, Charone Peake, Deon Cain, Zac Brooks and Ray Ray McCloud—a year ago, while throwing touchdown passes of 56 and 31 yards to Mike Williams in the 2014 game.
Scott says those touchdowns, however, have more to do with what Clemson was doing as opposed to what NC State wasn’t doing.
“They make you earn it. It’s not like it’s wide open guys just running down the field,” the Clemson coach said. “It was a one-on-one situation and our guys just happened to make the play.”
It has also helped that Clemson has run the football well in those two meetings. In 2014, the Tigers rushed for 226 yards while using a committee of people to get the job done. Last year, Wayne Gallman rushed for 172 yards as the Tigers ran for 240 yards.
Clemson averaged 4.5 yards per carry in 2014 and 4.8 yards per carry in 2015.
But don’t think NC State does not remember what has happened the last two years as well. With a defense littered with juniors and seniors, they will come into Saturday’s game wanting to prove they our better than what they have displayed against the Tigers.
The Wolfpack (4-1, 1-0 ACC) is eighth nationally in total defense (279.8) and in rushing defense (91.0).
“That was last year, and now a lot of those guys are back on their side,” Scott said. “I know they have a lot of pride and they are definitely going to have a good plan to defend us and it will come down to the same thing. Whoever makes the plays is going to win.”