The Clemson-NC State game for years has been a game that you circle on the calendar.
With State generally find a competitive, well coached football team that doesn’t have an inferiority complex, mixed in with a sprinkle of bad blood that is prone to give you bulletin board material.
This year’s game was no different, the stakes were just a little bit higher this time around. Ahh no big deal right, just the winner being able to control the Atlantic Division and bragging rights. And of course, National Championship aspirations.
With this being the last of the FBS undefeated matchups of the season this was a chance for Clemson to make a statement to every media outlet covering college football. On a homecoming where C.J. Spiller and James Davis were together for the first time since 2008, Rod Gardner came home and wore a T-shirt commemorating “The Catch II,” the whole country was watching the Tigers absolutely ball out.
This one was a great one to come home to. The Tigers dominated the game from start to finish.
As we talked earlier in the year about how Dabo Swinney and Company have a philosophy in place. Learn the players, build depth, create the game plan, improve week after week, and peak at the right time.
Saturday was the seventh game of the season for the Tigers and it seems they are on schedule for what is now an annual championship run. When I look at this year’s team I just see a very mature group from a leadership standpoint.
I don’t anticipate any let down game or midseason mishaps, it’s the evolution of this well-oiled machine. One thing that I knew for sure coming into this matchup was that NC State was going to stack the box and force Trevor Lawrence to beat them through the air. The young quarterback showed his poise and savvy again in this game and made really good decisions while the football was in his hands.
As a passer, he is as efficient as anyone in college football and rarely misses an open receiver. You take his ability to spin it, coupled with the intensity of the Clemson ground game, and you have a problem on your hands.
What to do? What to do?
On one hand you play with two high safeties and get gashed by Travis Etienne and his comrades or you play one high and take your chances in coverage. I just don’t know how you can do that for an entire football game with Justyn Ross, Tee Higgins, Hunter Renfrow, Amari Rodgers and Diondre Overton. I’m sure you get the picture.
My Friend, Trey Dubose, said It best in a text this morning he described the game as a “Choose your own death mode.” I guess you can bleed out slow or fast. I believe it’s all a preference at this point.
I’m not going to lie I’ve always been pretty high on Ryan Finley and this defense made him look more or less pedestrian in this one. It’s not hard to see why, though. Jimmy Greenbeans—a.k.a Brent Venables— and his boys played pissed off. They played smart but pissed off.
The front four were relentless and the secondary was lock down. Trayvon Mullen and A.J. Terrell are two guys that I’d put against anybody in the country and expect the results that they produced on Saturday afternoon. Clemson Remarkably was still able to play as many players as they wanted to in this game. Building depth is more important than blowing teams out, it’s nice when you can do both though isn’t it? When your level of drop-off isn’t much from one group to the next it’s a beautiful thing to see. You can win championships with that.