North Carolina State University Wolfpack @ Clemson University Tigers
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Score: North Carolina State (17), Clemson (24)
Notable Prospects Entering the Contest
North Carolina State Offense
Matthew Dayes, RB, Senior, #21: Dayes has quietly been one of the more consistent running backs in college football this season. He’s topped 100 rushing yards five times in six contests and has reeled off 125, 126 and 106 against Wake Forest, Notre Dame and now Clemson, respectively. Dayes is a thick fire hydrant type runner at 5090, 210 lbs; his low center of gravity proves to be a tall task for defenders to square up and drive back on first contact. Dayes didn’t show breakaway speed (he only has 6 runs of 20+ on the season) but rather his physical running style and subtle cuts left a number of Clemson defenders grasping at air at the point of initial contact. Dayes missed the back half of 2015 so staying on the field and providing consistent production is going to prove vital to separating himself in a class of Running Backs that has an endless amount of ability.
North Carolina State Defense
Dravious Wright, DB, Senior, #8: Dravious Wright was a big time performer on defense for the Wolfpack, who forced a number of errors onto the Tiger offense in what should have probably been a victory for NC State. Wright was the one who delivered the jaw cracking hit to Wayne Gallman in the middle of the field; knocking Gallman from the contest with a concussion. While you hate to see plays like that, it was one of the plays that set the tone for Wright’s performance. He was a very active player in both run and pass defense; flying up to challenge receivers at the catch point in front of his face and also breaking on some of the Tigers’ quick throws into the flats. Wright forced a second fumble deep in Wolfpack territory as well to compliment his 9 total tackles and one tackle for loss. Wright is not a player that was notably on my radar entering the season but he’s slapped together well at 5100, 208 and plays just as physical. This is a name to watch going forward.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Junior, #4: I thought Watson had a good, not great, performance. Three throws in particular stand out; Watson took two deep shots and grossly overthrew them both from a clean pocket. His third was the pick-six interception he threw to open the second half. That play was a lazy rep on Watson’s part to not check and make sure the CB who was showing blitz or slide coverage had actually vacated the area. As a result, Watson pulled straight out of his play fake and threw right to the defender. Where Watson excelled in this game was situational football: third downs, two minute drill, the execution in overtime. These areas were what won Clemson a game that in all honesty they should have lost. I don’t think it should be lost how well Watson threw the ball on third down and how consistent he is to rise to the occasion and make plays to win games for his team.
Mike Williams, WR, RS Junior, #7: Williams was a man amongst boys in the secondary. He struggled in the first quarter with a handful of contested targets but came back strong to win at the catch point on a key touchdown just before the half and on a number of other throws as well. Williams didn’t get vertical in this contest as he usually does but it was a nice illustration of his versatility as a receiver. He did well to create after the catch (look no further than his deep post and long run afterwards) and was a handful to tackle in the open field. Williams is really coming into his own after a strong start and subtle lapse in early September; I think he is going to continue to separate himself from the field as the best WR prospect in the country.
Jordan Leggett, TE, Senior, #16: Leggett was an active piece of the receiving game; making to impressive receptions throughout the course of the game. The first was a sliding corner route which placed Clemson inside the five; Watson climbed the ladder and fired low to Leggett who did well to dig the ball out of the dirt. (Clemson later fumbled on the possession). The second reception was between the hashes and again set Clemson up on the goal line (they would score this time); Leggett wrestled the football away from a defender and used his body to box out and finish the catch. He was guilty of a holding call; but Leggett is not going to regularly be a contributor as a blocker anyway. He’s a bit clunky trying to handle heavier handed defenders and will struggle to win at the point of attack. Overall, more of what we’ve seen plenty of from him.
Wayne Gallman, RB, Junior, #9: Gallman was unfortunately knocked from this contest early on a large gain. NC State DB Dravious Wright sliced in from the side and caught Gallman on the facemask, knocking him out and jarring loose the football. It has since been announced that Gallman has entered the concussion protocol and it is likely we do not see him for a week or so. Hopefully that is the extent of the time he is forced to miss and can be out making plays again soon.
Carlos Watkins, NT, Senior, #94: Watkins had a very nice game for the Tigers. He produced a handful of pressures in various ways; including collapsing the pocket and taking advantage of a protection gaffe. On the latter he showed impressive acceleration for a man of his size to close in on the Quarterback. Watkins was consistent in his efforts resetting the LOS; which made more work for Wolfpack runners to pick and choose their way through the line. Watkins is a bit of a one-dimensional player; I’m not certain he’s going to be a three down contributor. But this game was a strong showing in what he can do well and that role is going to have a value at the next level, even if it’s one I wouldn’t covet particularly early in the draft.
Ben Boulware, OB LB, Senior, #10: Boulware spent a majority of this game struggling to align tackle attempts and come to balance. He simply lacks the lateral mobility to challenge in short areas once he’s come to a standstill position. Boulware deserves credit for playing a relentless brand of football. He flies around and his second and third efforts will get him into plays most others wouldn’t sniff. But he’s a physically limited player and struggles far too much in space for my liking. Boulware would be well served to see if dropping some of his size wouldn’t yield some marginally better results in movement skills; he’s going to need help in that department if he is to stick at the next level. Currently projects best as a 3-4 thumper and two down gap plugger.
Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Senior, #25: Tankersley was a terror at the top of route steps all day for the Tigers. His physicality and length were notable; as receivers tried to bump him off of routes but the length present prevented any separation from being established. Tankersley also did well playing into the LOS as an alley defender; overall this was one of his better games (or at least more visible games from a television broadcast standpoint).
Best Players on the Field:
Mike Williams, WR; Deshaun Watson, QB
Ben Boulware, LB