The No. 3 Clemson Tigers looked far from dominant in their 26-14 win over N.C. State, but after the way Thursday night unfolded, they were happy to leave Raleigh with a victory.
The Clemson offense struggled most of the night, particularly in a first half that ended with the Tigers up just 13-7, but Tajh Boyd finally got things going in the second half. His two touchdown passes allowed a bit of breathing room, but for a team with national championship aspirations, the twelve-point win over an admittedly scrappy and motivated Wolfpack squad is cause for concern.
While the inability of the offensive line to give Gibson suitable time in the pocket played a major factor in the sloppy performance, SB Nation's Clemson blog Shakin' the Southland posited that play-calling was the team's biggest issue.
I rarely disagree with what [offensive coordinator Chad Morris] calls, but when we look our worst, it has been a pattern that his calls aren't helping the problem we see on the field. Tajh gets pressure and we don't go with enough max protect to alleviate the issue. The lack of commitment to running the ball continues to come up when we struggle. He'd rather run Boyd up the middle and take another hit than let McDowell take that hit -- and we weren't bad at running the ball tonight. 14 carries for 67 yards last I checked.
The game could have gone much differently if not for a questionable call in the third quarter. A touchdown run by N.C. State's Bryan Underwood was called back after refs ruled that he had stepped out of bounds near midfield, but we'll let SB Nation's Wolfpack blog, Backing the Pack, break down the gif below:
No replay that aired during the telecast showed conclusive evidence that Underwood ever stepped out of bounds. The portion of the run in question is in the gif above, so judge for yourself. The play was not reviewed by the officials, and Dave Doeren couldn't challenge it because it had been blown dead. Pete Thomas fumbled the ball away a couple snaps later, Clemson cashed in with a touchdown not long after that, and thus the game pretty much was wrapped up by the Tigers.