Watching the tape of Clemson’s 56-41 win over N.C. State in 2015 provided some painful memories for the Tigers’ defense this week during preparation for the Wolfpack.
Brent Venables’ unit plans on having more enjoyable film sessions after Saturday’s game as Clemson tries to make amends for perhaps its worst defensive performance of last season.
N.C. State accumulated 389 yards of offense and 213 kickoff return yards, including one that went for a 100-yard touchdown, as it put a scare in the Tigers thanks in large part to big plays.
N.C. State had three plays go for 40 or more yards last year against Clemson. For comparison, the Tigers have allowed only two such plays through six games this season.
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“It was very sloppy. A lot of big plays, just too many big plays. For the most part we did OK, but the big plays will kill you, and they killed us last year,” Clemson linebacker Kendall Joseph said. “We can’t allow the big plays. We took it personal, and we’ve seen the tape. ... That kills the defense and kills the momentum of the defense. We’re really locked in and looking forward to a way better performance this year.”
There is never a good time to allow a big play, but NC State’s came at particularly inopportune times last year.
On the second play of the game Matthew Dayes rushed for 41 yards to put N.C. State deep in Clemson territory and set up a Wolfpack touchdown.
The second big play came on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jacoby Brissett to Jaylen Samuels to give N.C. State a 20-19 lead late in the second quarter.
Midway through the third quarter Clemson had grabbed momentum and a 13-point lead after an 11-play touchdown drive before Samuels broke off a 66-yard run two plays later.
“Mentally and physically it was sloppy. We didn’t come to the game prepared,” Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware said. “Just big plays, not playing assignment football, a bunch of missed tackles. It was really a sloppy game in all aspects. We were lucky to come out with a win.”
While Brissett is gone, several players who caused Clemson problems a year ago are back, including Samuels and Dayes.
Samuels had six carries for 65 rushing yards, eight receptions for 74 yards and two total touchdowns last season against Clemson.
This year he leads NC State in receptions with 21 and total touchdowns with seven, which is four more than anyone else on the team.
“He is a great football player. He really is. They use him in a lot of different ways. It’s hard to classify him,” Swinney said. “He can run it. He can catch it. He blocks. He does everything for them. He leads them in touchdowns. He leads them in receptions. He’s a very, very dynamic player that hurt us last year, too.”
Dayes has 563 rushing yards and is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He also is tied for second on the team in receptions with 13 for 100 yards.
“They’ve still got a lot of those guys back. Their running back and their H-Back type of guy are both coming back, and I thought those guys were both really good, talented players,” Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said. “They’re going to present a lot of challenges for us.”
Who: Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. N.C. State (4-1, 1-0)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson (81,750)
TV: ABC (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
Radio: 93.5 FM
Satellite radio: SiriusXM 84
Series record: Clemson leads 55-28-1
Line: Clemson by 17 1/2