RALEIGH — There are two ways for N.C. States veteran players to remember Clemson.
Theres last years track-meet loss at Clemson, 62-48, in which Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd accounted for an ACC-record eight touchdowns and 529 yards of total offense.
And theres a 37-13 upset at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2011 when the Tigers were ranked No. 7 in the country.
Senior cornerback Dontae Johnson said the Wolfpack (2-0) is focused on this shot at the Tigers, now No. 3 in the country, next Thursday at Carter-Finley Stadium in front of a national television audience.
But its tough, Johnson admitted, to forget about the ridiculous numbers Boyd, now a senior, posted last season against the Wolfpacks secondary.
You definitely remember it but its just one of those things you have to move on from, Johnson said.
And on the opposite end of the memory bank, despite all the changes in the program since last December, Johnson said theres something to be learned from the 2011 win and last years 17-16 home upset of then-No.3 Florida State.
If you believe and play with passion, anything is possible, Johnson said.
First-year coach Dave Doeren didnt run into too many players with the talent of Boyd or receiver Sammy Watkins the past two seasons in the Mid-American Conference. Doeren said theres a lot to like about the Tigers, especially Boyd.
Hes a Heisman candidate for a reason, Doeren said. He has a great arm, hes very savvy back there and makes good decisions. They run him when they need and hell do some things on his own. You have to know where he is and contain them.
Boyd, the ACC player of the year last year in part for his record-setting game against the Wolfpack, has started the 2013 season quickly. He accounted for five touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) in the Tigers 38-35 win over Georgia in the opener.
He watched in the second half of last weeks 52-13 romp of South Carolina State when his backup, Cole Stoudt, set a school record by completing 19 of 20 passes for 143 yards with three touchdowns.
Doeren said it is especially important for the Wolfpack to start quickly.
They just score in bunches early in games and (go) up on people early, Doeren said. Weve got to do a great job of trying to stay in the game early.
The Wolfpack fell behind 21-10 in the first half of last weeks comeback win over Richmond. N.C. States defense allowed all of the Spiders points, and 215 passing yards to quarterback Michael Strauss, in the first half.
Strauss finished the game with 300 yards but the Wolfpack defense forced two fumbles by him in the second half and generated more pressure.
We got better in the second half, senior linebacker D.J. Green said. We made some mental mistakes in the first half. We cant do that against Clemson.
Doeren said practice has been focused on preparing for Clemson the past three days. He said with 11 true freshman playing valuable minutes, the first of two open dates on the schedule this season has been a bonus.
With some time to digest the 23-21 win over Richmond, Doeren said the takeaway was how many mistakes the Wolfpack made in the win with four turnovers and 10 penalties.
Junior running back Tony Creecy said Doeren pointed out the mistakes but didnt need to point out what would happen if they repeat those mistakes against Clemson.
We know that, Creecy said. If we make those same mistakes, that game will end very ugly.