NC State could not have asked for a better performance from its defense on Saturday afternoon when the Clemson Tigers entered Carter-Finley Stadium. The Pack held Clemson to a measly 10 first downs and 214 total yards in the game. Clemson’s five-star running back, who turned down an offer from the Wolfpack in the spring of 2020, Will Shipley, only managed 36 yards on 11 carries. Clemson’s big arm five-star quarterback, D.J. Uiagalelei was held to 111 yards and ended the day with a 46.6 quarterback rating.
The defensive line looked strong on Saturday afternoon. The line constantly filled holes and did not allow any room for the Clemson run game to get going. The big boys up front constantly kept Clemson quarterback Uiagalelei on his toes all afternoon. Graduate defensive tackle Cory Durden led the team with 1.5 sacks on Saturday. Uiagalelei was able to escape the pocket and scramble up the field a few times and while I'm sure the defensive line wishes it could have contained him a little better, not all the blame can be put on the defensive line for that.
Overall the Pack couldn’t have asked for much more from the defensive line on Saturday afternoon. With performances like that upfront, it takes some of the pressure off of the units behind them.
I don't think enough can be said about how impressive this linebacker unit has been all season. After losing arguably its top dog, redshirt sophomore Payton Wilson, this unit hasn't lost a step. The linebackers were flying all over the field Saturday afternoon. Redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore led the team in tackles with eight and tackles for loss with two. Sophomore linebacker Drake Thomas picked off Uiagalelei to end a drive that likely would have resulted in at least a Clemson field goal. The linebackers are the heart of the NC State defense and they played like it against the Tigers.
After a shaky start to the game that saw Clemson receivers seemingly running wide open all over the field, the defensive backs got it together and locked down the Tigers' passing attack. Any time you hold a team to just 111 yards passing on 26 attempts you know you were doing something right. Wideout Justyn Ross was the only Clemson receiver who had any sort of success against the Pack secondary.
The Pack shouldn't be too hard on itself regarding Ross, who is likely a first round pick in next year's NFL draft, to 77 yards. The Wolfpack has to be very pleased with how it was able to bounce back after a rough start.
When the other team's coach has to answer questions about if he plans to bench his quarterback you can be pretty sure you dominated the game defensively.
Dabo wipes away any potential QB controversy: "I think DJ is our quarterback."— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) September 26, 2021
With performances like that from the defense the Wolfpack will be in it until the end in every game it plays.