Thursday Night Thrashing

James Davis

RALEIGH, N.C. - It was the game Clemson fans have been waiting for. For the first time this season, the offense and defense looked the way Tiger Nation had hoped it would when the hiring of two new coordinators was announced in January.

Clemson rolled up 489 yards of total offense, 246 passing and 243 rushing, while at the same time holding the Wolfpack to 278. It all added up to a 31-10 Tigers victory Thursday night at Carter-Finely Stadium, which was the second-worst beating handed to N.C. State in Chuck Amato's six years as head coach.

And for the first time this year, the Clemson players could take in the win without having to sweat it out down to the wire. With the win, the Tigers improve to 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the ACC, while N.C. State drops to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC.

"Everything was working and everything was clicking," Tigers quarterback Charlie Whitehurst said. "I think that's a tribute to a pretty good game plan and good execution by us. It was a team effort."

The one down note, however, was the injury to freshman tailback James Davis, who suffered a broken left wrist on the first play of the second half. He is expected to return by the Georgia Tech game on Oct. 29, Davis said.

He finished the game with 12 carries for 143 yards and two touchdowns.

However, he was in long enough to do all the damage needed to make the vaunted N.C. State defense look below average. Davis broke runs for 12, 14, 16, 19 and 23 yards on misdirection, which opened things up for the passing game.

"He's got some acceleration and arm strength and leg strength to break arm tackles," Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said. "He can run tackle-to-tackle pretty good and when he gets outside, he has a second gear, which is kind of what you need."

His play in the first half allowed the Tigers to score on four consecutive possessions to quickly build a 28-7 lead and take a 28-10 advantage into halftime. The passing was crisp and the runs strong and sharp as N.C. State looked totally confused by a new formation installed this week by offensive coordinator Rob Spence.

On the other side of the ball, the defense never looked as dominant during the first five games as it did Thursday night. N.C. State quarterback Jay Davis was hurried and the running game was more or less useless.

Moreover, the Wolfpack was just four-of-15 on third-down conversions.

"We believed in ourselves when nobody else did," said cornerback Tye Hill, who intercepted his third pass of the year. "We really wanted and we worked hard."

The power of the defense was tested time and time again in the second half as the Clemson offense had a blocked punt and an interception deep in its own territory. But the defense never yielded and held the Wolfpack scoreless the final two quarters.

"I don't understand the criticism (of the defense)," Bowden said. "Again, we put the defense in a bad position and we shut them out in the second half."

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