NC State’s hurry-up offense nothing new to Clemson defense

September 18, 2013 

— Clemson linebacker Spencer Shuey had an interesting answer Tuesday about preparing for N.C. State’s new hurry-up offense.

“I don’t think many offenses go faster than ours,’’ said Shuey, a former South Mecklenburg High star. “And they go just as fast when they practice against us.’’

Hard to argue with that logic going into Thursday night, when the third-ranked Tigers play the Wolfpack in Raleigh at Carter-Finley Stadium. New N.C. State coach Dave Doeren wants to play fast between snaps. That is the forte of Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who believes 90 snaps per game is a realistic goal for his offense.

Now Doeren, who got Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl before moving to Raleigh, will try to turn Morris’ style-of-choice against the Tigers. That puts the onus on Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who had to contain offenses of similar pace in the Big 12 before moving on to Clemson.

Venables said this culture shift in college football puts pressure on defensive players to think a lot faster than they run or tackle.

“You’ve got to recruit more intelligent players,’’ Venables said Tuesday. “They’ve got to make dot-to-dot communications with the sideline” to rapidly send in defensive formations against the hurry-up.

Shuey, a graduate student at Clemson, fits that description. Clemson’s leading tackler this season (23 in two games), Shuey understands the offensive scheme is designed to limit defensive choices and cause confusion.

N.C. State is looking to make it “so you can’t make adjustments. So you have to think clearly and think fast,’’ Shuey said. “You have to know your assignment even when you’re exhausted.”

Venables compared the hurry-up offense to a televised poker tournament. By minimizing Clemson’s substitutions and adjustments, N.C. State essentially knows Clemson’s defensive “hole cards,” but Clemson doesn’t know what the Wolfpack will run offensively.

“Also they do a lot of things pre-snap (at the line of scrimmage) as far as movement. They’ll challenge us mentally,” Venables said.

That’s where communication, intellect and preparation have to counteract trickery. Because if a defense is plain-vanilla, it’s cooked, according to Venables.

“Whether it’s (press) box-to-sideline or sideline-to-the field, communication has got to be crisp, precise and fast,” Venables said. “You could play the same call all night, but you’d get your teeth kicked in.”

Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129. Twitter: @Rick_Bonnell

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