By: Johnny Falduto
After a heartbreaking 28-20 double-overtime loss in Miami last Saturday, Clemson (4-3, 2-3 ACC) travels to Raleigh, N.C. this weekend to take on NC State (4-3, 1-2 ACC). Kickoff at Carter-Finley Stadium is set for 2 p.m. ET on the CW Network.
Clemson Injuries: At his Tuesday press conference, Clemson HC Dabo Swinney announced that the team will for sure be without S RJ Mickens and WR Antonio Williams on Saturday. Mickens had his appendix removed on Monday and is considered week-to-week, and Williams sustained a toe injury against Miami and will be “out for awhile,” according to Swinney, but the hope is that he can return before the end of the season. DE Justin Mascoll left the game early against Miami and is considered day-to-day, though Swinney would not specify what the injury was. Freshman RB Jay Haynes got rolled up on in practice during the open week and will not be available, and DE Xavier Thomas will return on Saturday after sitting out against Miami for a violation of team rules.
Bouncing Back: Clemson has not lost consecutive games in a single season since November 2011, and their 161 consecutive games played without consecutive losses in the same season is the program’s longest streak in school history and the nation’s longest active streak. Under Dabo Swinney, the Tigers have gone 33-8 in games following a loss.
History Awaits Swinney: Clemson HC Dabo Swinney will again attempt to pass College Football Hall of Famer Frank Howard for sole possession of Clemson’s all-time head coaching wins record on Saturday after tying his mark of 165 wins against Wake Forest earlier this month.
Scouting NC State’s Offense
Sophomore QB MJ Morris will make his third start of the season after taking over for Brennan Armstrong, who transferred from Virginia this past offseason in hopes of a fresh start. Morris went 17-32 for 265 YDS, 4 TD, and 3 INT in a win against Marshall in his first start earlier this month, and followed that up by going 24-40 for 193 YDS and an INT in a 24-3 loss to Duke.
The Wolfpack offense averages 143.3 rushing yards per game, led by RB Michael Allen (43 CAR, 230 YDS, 1 TD, 5.3 AVG) and RB Delbert Mimms III (51 CAR, 171 YDS, 6 TD, 3.4 AVG). Allen leads the team with 10 rushes of 10+ yards and 162 yards after contact.
Freshman WR Kevin Concepcion has emerged as the team’s No.1 receiver at the midway point of the season, totaling 37 REC for 410 YDS and 4 TD. WR Terrell Timmons Jr. (9 REC, 172 YDS, 19.1 AVG), WR Bradley Rozner (14 REC, 145 YDS, 2 TD, 10.2 AVG), and WR Keyon Lesane (15 REC, 108 YDS, 7.2 AVG) round out the starting group of receivers for the Wolfpack, who average 204.1 net passing yards per contest. TE Trent Pennix (11 REC, 136 YDS, 2 TD, 12.4 AVG) has also been heavily involved in the passing game.
On Tuesday, Dabo Swinney said that this year’s version of the NC State offense features more 10 (1 RB, 4 WR) and 11 (1 RB, 1 TE) personnel, and not as much 12 (1 RB, 2 TE) as they have been in previous years.
Scouting NC State’s Defense
NC State’s defense plays with an odd front and mixes it up between double cloud and cover zero. They lead the ACC with 22 sacks and are second to only North Carolina with 8 INTs.
On the left side of the odd front, DE Davin Vann has totaled 23 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and leads the team with 13 QB hurries and 5 QB hits this season. C.J. Clark will get the start at NT and Savion Jackson will line up opposite of Vann.
Fifth-year LB Payton Wilson ranks first in the ACC and third in FBS with 81 total tackles to go along with 4 sacks and an interception through the team’s first seven games this season. His 80.0 coverage grade via PFF is also a team-high. Dabo Swinney described him as a “gamewrecker” and “one of those guys when you watch tape you just have to tip your hat.”
On the back-end, left CB Shyheim Battle has totaled 23 tackles and is tied with nickelback Robert Kennedy for the team lead with 2 interceptions and 2 PBU’s each. Kennedy is also the team’s highest-graded DB in coverage at 69.9. SS Devan Boykin (27 tackles), FS Sean Brown (35 tackles, 1 INT), and right CB Aydan White (14 tackles, 1 INT) round out the Wolfpack secondary.
Clemson opened as a 9-point favorite over the Wolfpack on Sunday, and have moved to a 10-point favorite as of Wednesday afternoon. The over/under is set at 43.5.
FEI projects an 18-10 victory for the Tigers and gives them a 71% chance to win, and ESPN analytics gives them a 75.6% chance to win.
Kickoff at Carter-Finley Stadium is set for 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. For live play-by-play coverage, tune into 97.5/105.5 in the Upstate, right here on theroarfm.com, or on The Roar mobile app.