You can only worry about the players that you have.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren made that very fair point earlier this week. Doeren’s also human and noticed Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence on tape as the coach prepared for the third-ranked Tigers on Saturday.
“He’s a great player and a great kid,” Doeren said of Lawrence, a five-star recruit from nearby Wake Forest. “We told him when we started recruiting him, he’s going to be a great player wherever he went so it’s not surprising to see him that way.”
Lawrence was rated as the top prospect in the state of North Carolina and among the top 5 in the country last year. N.C. State was in the running for Lawrence, with Alabama, Ohio State and just about every other name-brand program, but Lawrence decided to go to Clemson.
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Even local fans who yearn for a “fence around the state” would have a hard time arguing with Lawrence’s choice. He’s playing right away for the Tigers, with three starts in six games, and has 38 tackles and 15 quarterback pressures.
And he has a chance to help Clemson, national runner-up a year ago, win the national title.
The double-whammy for N.C. State is not only losing out on a talent like Lawrence but then having to face him.
And it would be one thing if Lawrence was the only good player on Clemson’s defense. That’s hardly the case. Like Lawrence, sophomore defensive tackle Christian Wilkins has the potential to be the No. 1 overall pick, when he’s draft eligible.
Linebackers Ben Boulware and Kendall Joseph have been outstanding in Clemson’s 6-0 start.
“You’re playing against the best front that we’ll see all year,” Doeren said.
That leads us to this week’s Twitter questions:
Do you see any chance of State pulling a win out at Clemson? And if so how
A chance? Sure. Vic Beasley is safely in the NFL and I don’t think N.C. State will try and block his replacement with a walk-on tight end.
(Man, that 2014 game was the definition of disaster for State and it made Beasley a lot of money).
How? Eh, the usual: run the ball, control the clock, get a “freebie” and don’t turn the ball over.
Or as Doeren said: “They’re going to make some plays and we have to limit how many they get.”
I suspect this game will be closer to the version of last year’s, a 56-41 Clemson win in Raleigh, than the utter catastrophe of N.C State’s last trip here.
Speaking of which …
Will State score this year?
Probably. One stat that interests me (and maybe only me): 202 yards.
Appalachian State ran for 202 yards at Clemson last year. Dwayne Ledford was Appalachian State’s offensive line coach last year. He is N.C. State’s offensive line coach this year.
Now, Clemson won that game 41-10 but that yardage total suggests N.C. State might be able to run the ball and See Previous Question as to why that’s important.
And let’s finish with a question about the SEC and the Florida-LSU scheduling mess from a familiar, uh, source.
Was there a better way to solve the SEC’s scheduling problem between Florida and LSU?
Hurricane Matthew wiped out last week’s scheduled game between the Tigers and Gators in Florida. The two sides, after an intervention by the SEC, decided to play the game on Nov. 19 at LSU.
Florida seemed to be wrangling to avoid the game altogether to give it a better chance to win the SEC East.
But, if the SEC (or ACC or anyone else) would listen to me, then there could have been two ways to avoid this mess:
A) Use the division games as the primary factor to determine the division race
B) Adopt a 14-week regular season.
“A” means you’re placing a premium on a round-robin format. The crossover games, which vary by team, would only count in tiebreaker situations. So, Florida’s loss to Tennessee couldn’t be undone by scheduling shenanigans when it came time to pick a team to play in the SEC title game.
“B” means there would have been more flexibility in rescheduling the game and it probably would not have had to have been moved from Florida to LSU.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio