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September 18, 2013
You cannot blame NC State redshirt junior defensive end Art Norman for occasionally flashing back to when NC State played Clemson in 2011.
"I don't think about it a whole lot," Norman admitted. "It does cross my mind every now and then cause honestly that was a big game for me. A lot people know me from that game."
When No. 7 Clemson rolled into Raleigh that afternoon, they were not ready for Norman. He finished with three sacks, one of which forced a crucial fumble deep in Clemson territory to set up a score en route to a surprising 37-13 NC State rout.
Last year, though, Norman did not have near as fond memories.
"That I try not to remember," Norman said. "That was basically not executing our assignments on defense. I watched the game [last week]. It was a lot of not executing the assignments on defense."
Norman had a season-high six solo tackles in that 62-48 loss in Death Valley, but the score says it all. The Tigers rolled up a staggering 754 yards of total offense in the win.
Highlighting Clemson's effort was fifth-year senior quarterback Tajh Boyd. He threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 105 yards and two more scores.
Boyd represents the first time this season that Norman and the defense will face a quarterback that is a running threat. Boyd though is also a load at 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, adding power to his athleticism.
"It's just when you pass rushing, you got to get him with good contact," Norman noted. "You can't arm tackle him, that's the biggest thing."
Clemson is averaging 85.5 plays per game through two contests this year, and Boyd has been his usual self, throwing for 439 yards and rushing for another 52 and contributing six total touchdowns (three passing, three rushing).
Boyd is not Clemson's only playmaker on offense though. Junior receiver Sammy Watkins has caught nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, and fifth-year senior running back Roderick McDowell has picked up the load for departed Andre Ellington with 175 rushing yards.
"We practice against that [tempo] with our offense and we practice really fast," Norman noted. "I don't think we worry too much about the pace, moreso their weapons, Tajh Boyd, guys like that."
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