Inconsistent is the word. The same NC State Wolfpack that almost upset Florida State a week ago fell 41-0 to Clemson on Saturday. The Wolfpack was simply outplayed. Nothing thrown at them was unexpected according to coach Dave Doeren, but what they made up for in preparation they lacked in execution.
The 41 point demolition was the first time the Tigers have shutout a team in the ACC since Maryland in 1998.
Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson continued his impressive play, throwing for two touchdowns and running for two more. He completed 17 of 29 passes for a total of 267 yards. Just minutes into the first quarter Watson threw to sophomore wide receiver Mike Williams for a beautiful 56 yard touchdown. Williams was able to beat out the NC State secondary, which proved to be a trend throughout the game. Just minutes later Watson threw to Williams again, as he made a diving catch into the end zone for a second touchdown. Good protection from the Clemson offensive line made it difficult for the NC State defense to prevent Watson from executing his dangerous passing.
There were high expectations for NC State junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett, following his strong performance against FSU last week. Despite losing to the Seminoles the Wolfpack put up a fight and fans expected to at least see another competitive matchup with Clemson. Not an unreasonable assertion for a young and improving Wolfpack team who went toe-to-toe with the defending national champions. But those expectations deflated early when Brissett struggled to get comfortable under center.
There was a lack of protection from the line against the best defense they have faced yet. Brissett had two of the three fumbles from the Wolfpack both of which led to Clemson touchdowns. In the third quarter Brissett was sacked by Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley marking his 28th career sack. Beasley returned the ball 16 yards into the end zone for the final Clemson touchdown.
Brissett completed only 4 of 18 passing attempts for 35 yards. NC State entered the match up averaging 505 yards, leading in the ACC, but only managed 156 yards against Clemson.
Clemson dominated both offensively and defensively on Saturday. NC State was outplayed all around. By halftime Clemson had already put 31 points on the board and NC State was struggling to make first downs. The Wolfpack have now lost 10 straight conference games but have a chance to end that losing streak when they play Boston College next Saturday.
*Section Photo credit to Tyler Smith, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Joshua S. Kelly, USA Today Sports