Week 5 of the college football season is in the books. College Gameday was in attendance to showcase the matchup of the week between our 5th ranked Clemson Tigers and the 10th ranked NC State Wolfpack.
This is the game that was circled by both teams and fanbases since NC State finally got over the hump and defeated Clemson at home last year. Despite that achievement, they still failed to win the ACC Atlantic in 2021 and were looking to once again knock off the Tigers and take the top spot in the Atlantic division this year. They came in very confident with their returning top-ranked defense and Devin Leary, whom many thought would be the best QB in the ACC, but they don’t call it Death Valley for no reason!
Clemson led for a majority of the game behind their stifling defense and methodical offense. The Tigers responded to NC ST’s brief taking of the lead by putting together an efficient two-minute drill before halftime that ended in a TD. The offense was given good field position to start the 3rd quarter and marched down the field for another TD to put them up two scores and keep NC ST at arm’s length. The offense once again looked good against unquestionably their toughest test on the schedule.
Let’s see how each group graded out.
This game showcased one of the best QBs in the ACC and no it was not Devin Leary. That honor goes to easily the comeback player of the year in the ACC, DJ Uiagalelei.
DJ was masterful in this game. He completed 70% of his passes for over 200 yards in the air with a TD and once again no INTs. His passing stats would look even better had he been able to connect on two passes to Beaux Collins, one of which was a wide-open TD. He rushed for a career-high 73 yards and tacked on 2 more TDs on the ground.
He was once again calm and collected in the pocket and went through his progressions well. Eight different players caught a pass. He has complete control over the offense and the team feeds off of his energy and leadership. NC State was the best defense he has faced since last year and will probably be the best Clemson sees this entire year save for possibly Norte Dame. They dropped players in coverage and dared DJ to find the right play and he did time and again.
This was DJ’s biggest test and he passed with flying colors. He is one of the best QBs in the ACC and is becoming one of the better QBs in the country.
This was the OL’s best game of the year. Their pass protection has been great all year and continued against an experienced and talented NC ST front 7. They picked up blitzes well and kept DJ clean with zero sacks allowed. If teams can’t get pressure on DJ then he’s going to pick them apart and the OL is committed to making sure that won’t happen.
Run blocking was always going to be tough sledding against this defense, they entered the game top 10 against the run, yet they opened enough holes to keep Clemson on schedule. Clemson ran for over 150 yards against NC ST. This OL has continued to improve in this area and they prevented NC ST from making Clemson one-dimensional.
Special shoutout to Walker Parks for playing through an ankle injury and continuing to improve his play. Blake Miller is showing why he won the RT position as a true freshman as he has improved every game. He’s gone from a liability to a solid contributor.
There was some fear about how Will Putnam would play after struggling earlier in the year as the new C of the team but save for one bad snap he has played well. There was also a play where had he been able to hold his block a second longer, DJ had Williams open for a TD. McFadden & Tate continue to be solid and steady.
Shipley continued to run hard early in the game and almost broke a few big ones. He also had 3 catches for 37 yards with a beautiful play at the end of the 1st half to get Clemson in scoring position. Clemson is utilizing him in different ways to keep the Defense guessing and he’s making the most of each opportunity. He should have more space in the coming weeks to continue to add to his resume and prove he is one of the best RBs in the country.
The staff is showing great trust in Phil Mafah. He only ran the ball five times but he got 4.4 YPC - none of those runs were as big as the 3rd down pickup that put Clemson in position to ice the game in the 4th quarter. His bruising running style is fun to see and he is punishing defenders who try to bring him down.
The RBs combined for 21 rushing attempts with DJ adding 14 runs as well. The RBs did well in blitz pickup and played tough football against a tough NC ST defense. The hope is that Pace can return to how he’s been in the past and pick up some more snaps but as of right now the Shipley/Mafah 1-2 punch is working well.
Davis Allen and Jake Briningstool continued their elite level of play. After sharing 10 catches between them against Wake Forest, they combined for 8 catches against NC ST for 75 yards and a TD. Our TEs are dangerous weapons that we continue to utilize to their fullest potential and no one has found a way to stop them yet. They are matchup nightmares that we should, and will, continue to exploit in a way we haven’t been able to do since 2016. It’s refreshing to be able to attack all areas of the field with elite TE play, and they are flat-out deadly in the red zone.
The WRs didn’t make as many plays as they did against Wake but they were solid against the best secondary they’ve played this year. As a group, they are getting better at blocking on the perimeter.
Antonio Williams continues to emerge as one of, if not the best, WRs on the team; the true freshman posted a career-high in both catches and passing yards (5 receptions for 45 yards). Nagata had two catches for 19 yards and is becoming adept at drawing PI calls by fighting back for the ball.
I hate that Collins should have had more than the single catch he posted. DJ missed him on a beautiful route in the 1st half and Beaux allowed a perfectly thrown ball to fall off his fingertips in the 2nd half that would have ended the game right then and there.
This was the best coaching game plan we’ve seen all year. We continued to attack all areas of the field with passes to both the TEs and RBs to keep the defense guessing. We saw a commitment to the running game with the RBs and DJ even when it was tough sledding early on. We saw WRs get schemed open rather than just rely on 50/50 balls. It stinks we missed on those plays but the calls were perfect. The last TD run by DJ was beautiful and apparently a Dabo special. This is a new offensive coaching staff and for the 2nd consecutive week, they showed great preparation and in-game adjustments.
The offense has turned from a liability into a reliable and dangerous unit that should worry the rest of the teams on our schedule and whoever we get in the postseason should we make it that far.
What grade do you give the Clemson Offense against NC ST?
This poll is closed