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September 12, 2013
NC State getting jump on Clemson preparations
NC State has been preparing for Clemson the last three days in taking advantage of having the week off.
No. 3-ranked Clemson, who also has this week off, travels with its explosive offensive to play at NC State next Thursday at Carter-Finley Stadium. NCSU coach Dave Doeren said he spent a couple of days working on the game plans for what the Wolfpack hope to accomplish on first downs and second downs on both sides of the ball, along with all of the special teams units installed.
"Today was a red zone, third down type of emphasis on both sides, working on their pressures and our pressures," Doeren said. "We feel like we have a lot of stuff in. Tomorrow, we are going to rest and recover, so we can get back into game week healthy."
Doeren welcomed the early-season off week, and it should help the Wolfpack in recruiting. Playing at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on ESPN will also be a boost in recruiting, both with players attending the game live and also any that watch the Wolfpack on television.
"Any time you come to this level of football, you come to it to play on the big stage on national television against ranked teams," Doeren said. "It can be [a boost in recruiting]. We have to play well for it to be that way. I know they will be excited about the atmosphere if they can come. Being a school night, I'm not sure how many we will have on campus, but we are trying to get as many as we can."
NC State's fan base played a key role in helping the Wolfpack rally for a 17-16 win over then No. 3-ranked Florida State last year. NCSU will need some deja vu from the fans.
"They are always important," Doeren said. "For our defense to have them behind them, particularly third downs and in backed up situations, when running a no huddle where you can't hear yourself talk, it's tough. We need that kind of crowd noise."
Doeren has welcomed the opportunity to rest some banged up players, but he also wanted to make sure the 11 true freshmen and other younger players to continue to receive extra reps. He lamented about the turnovers and points that got away last Saturday in NC State's 23-21 win over Richmond, but knows it was a good learning experience.
"We need to get our offensive line a little more chemistry than we have had, and give [quarterback] Pete [Thomas] a chance to play with those receivers," Doeren said.
Doeren has been impressed with Clemson's early-season wins over Georgia and South Carolina State.
"They are a team with 19 starters back and a bunch of lettermen," Doeren said. "They have all their coaches and have been together a long time. They have a lot of install. They have been able to put in their defense for multiple years and offense for multiple years. They have a lot of plays you have to defend and great depth."
Clemson lost junior wide receiver Charone Peake to a torn ACL last week. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Peake had eight catches for 84 yards and a touchdown in the first two games.
Doeren figures Clemson will plug in another four- or-five star recruit and carry on at wide receiver. Former Charlotte Berry High standout Germone Hopper, a redshirt freshman, caught six passes for 66 yards and two scores against South Carolina State last week in his Tigers debut.
The one-two punch of Clemson senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins will help carry the Tigers offense while receivers adjust to new roles. Boyd has gone 32-of-53 passing for 439 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 52 yards and three scores on 19 carries. Watkins has caught nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, and is also a threat in the return game or occasional rushing attempt.
"He [Boyd] is a Heisman candidate for a reason," Doeren said. "He has a great arm, he's very savvy back there and makes good decisions. They run him when they need to. They have a designed running game in the red zone and short yardage. He'll do some things on his own and scramble around. You have to know where he is and contain him."
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