The countdown is on to Clemson football first in Athens (Georgia) and then back in TigerTown on Sept. 6 (S.C. State).
We’re counting down the Clemson schedule – by strength of schedule – with a quick profile, team I.D. and prediction.
N.C. State is up next coming off a winless ACC debut for Dave Doeren.
Clemson Countdown to Kickoff
12) S.C. State
11) Georgia State
10) Wake Forest
9) N.C. State Wolfpack
Plays Clemson: at Memorial Stadium, Oct. 4, time TBA.
2013 Record: 3-9 (0-8 ACC, last in the Atlantic Division).
Coach: Dave Doeren (26-13 career record).
Offense (2013 ranks): Spread (Scoring offense: 98, 22.7 PPG; Yards per play: 100, 5.12; Field position advantage: 83).
Defense (2013 ranks): 4-2-5 (Def. yards per play: 91, 5.89; Scoring defense: 84, 30.2 PPG; 3rd down defense: 71, 40.4%).
Advanced stats: Success Rate – 110 (37.4%); Points per trip inside the 40 – 116 (3.3); Adj. line yards – 79 (99); Def. Success Rate – 80 (43,4%); Def. points per trip inside the 40 – 104 (4.7); Def. adj. line yards – 41 (106.1).
Returning starters: Offense – 7; Defense – 8; Kickers – 2.
N.C. State Identity
1. Life with Jacoby - Before a 2013 snap, second-year N.C. State coach Dave Doeren referred to the season as “life without Jacoby,” the Florida transfer who had to sit out with two years of eligibility left (starting this season). State’s uninspiring 0-8 ACC run certainly gave an indication why. Brissett (6-4 236), a former 4-star prospect, last played in 2012 with a 66 completion percentage, 249 passing yards and a touchdown. He was 22-for-30 playing most in wins over UL-Lafayette and Jacksonville State.
2. Improving run threat? - In the old regime, running the rock was more decoy than anything, but State cracked the top-80 nationally (71st) in rushing for the first time in the last five seasons last year. At Northern Illinois under a similar staff, the Huskies were top-15 in the nation rushing back-to-back seasons under Doeren. The Wolfpack is currently suffering the longest 1,000-yard rusher drought in the ACC (2002, T.A. McLendon). Junior Shadrach Thornton has led State in rushing the last two seasons (1,462 yards) and may have flirted with the four-digits last year if not for a two-game suspension plus no bowl game (768 yards).
3. Transitioning ‘D’ - N.C. State is the latest to make the move to the en vogue 4-2-5 scheme, matching the spread/hurry-up attacks popping up across the country. The Wolfpack’s strength is up front, where they return 97 percent of their sacks and three of the top-four on the team in tackles for loss (Thomas Teal – 10.5; Art Norman – 9). The new-look secondary is anchored by corner Juston Burris (6 PBUs/INT in 2013) and safety Hakim Jones (8 PBUs/2 INT), while senior Brandon Pittman is the lone returner at linebacker (63 tackles).
Projected Record: 5-7 (2-6 ACC).
(Way too early) N.C. State pick: 45-17 Tigers.
Analysis: With one of the weaker schedules at the FBS level, State stands a decent shot at making a bowl, but the stretch of hosting the reigning national champs (Florida State) and then heading to Clemson was no favor from the ACC. The Wolfpack are very much in rebuilding mode with better prospects next season than this one.
Next up: 8) Syracuse Orange – ‘Cuse aim for an encore as the best of the rest in the Atlantic.