Talking Points: Pack's night ends up out of bounds
Posted September 20, 2013
1. Well, let's go ahead and get this out of the way first. "Bryan Underwood was in bounds" is the new "T.A. McLendon was in the end zone."
In the middle of the third quarter, Underwood streaked down the sideline for what appeared to be an 83-yard touchdown run. Carter-Finley Stadium went bonkers thinking NC State was about to be up 14-13 on Clemson. However, officials ruled Underwood out of bounds at the 47 yard line and the touchdown never happened.
NC State head coach Dave Doeren was blunt when asked if he had a decent look of the play in question.
"It was right in front of me, he didn't go out of bounds," Doeren said. "Unfortunately they blew it dead, so they couldn't review it. I know the guy felt bad about, but it's just the way it is."
Underwood was too focused on the goal line to remember where his feet were during the run.
"To be honest with you, my eyes were straight on the end zone," Underwood said. "I was just reading my blocks and just trying to use my speed to get past everybody."
Quarterback Pete Thomas wound up fumbling the ball after getting sacked by Clemson's Vic Beasley a few plays later. The Tigers scored on the following possession after Tajh Boyd hooked up with Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown. The Wolfpack was down 20-7 and the game eventually slipped away.
The out of bounds call was highly questionable at best or completely blown depending on your point of view, but it's important to note that what happened after was mutually exclusive to the ruling. Teams can overcome bad call. NC State still got 36 yards out of the run and moved into Clemson territory. The momentum killer came in the form of a fumble, not a dude in stripes.
2. NC State's defensive line did a good job keeping Boyd out of rhythm throughout the first half and chunks of the second half.
The Wolfpack sacked Boyd twice and yielded only a field goal on the opening drive. The Tigers then punted and kicked another field goal to close out the first quarter. The defense held Boyd to 4-of-11 passing in the second quarter.
Boyd's first great sequence came with just under five minutes left in the half, when he converted a third down with a 28-yard throw to Sammy Watkins. Boyd converted a fourth down with his legs and finally threw a touchdown to Sam Cooper on a rollout.
Boyd finished the night 24-of-37 for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Highlights of this game won't be used for his Heisman campaign, but Boyd managed to stay mistake free in the box score and that's ultimately what matters.
3. Despite the defense stepping up early, NC State's offense was slower to get going.
Underwood's other run-in with the sideline happened on the Wolfpack's opening drive, where a long rush was limited to 18 yards. On the next play from Clemson's 43-yard line, he couldn't bring down Thomas' throw near the end zone. NC State only mustered 34 yards of total offense in the first quarter.
Shadrach Thorton powered through Clemson's defense for a 21-yard rushing touchdown to open up the second quarter. NC State wouldn't get on the board again until the fourth quarter, when the game was essentially in Clemson's hands.
The Wolfpack utilized Bryant Shirreffs and a few interesting formations. Thomas took the most of the snaps at quarterback and looked slightly more comfortable running the offense.
Penalties put the Wolfpack in some difficult spots.
4. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney discovered a way to fold space and time. Utilizing his mastery of physics, Swinney managed to strategically call timeouts that negated momentum swinging plays.
Facing a 3rd-and-16 from their own 32 yard line on the opening drive, a timeout negated NC State's defensive stand. Boyd connected with Watkins on the following play for a first down and the Tigers eventually took a 3-0 lead.
NC State's Juston Burress intercepted Boyd later in the first half, but officials waived it off due to another timeout called. The Tigers eventually took a 6-0 lead.
Swinney was seen jumping into his Tardis outside Carter-Finley Stadium after the game.
5. Chin up, NC State fans. Everyone expected a blow out. We got a wearisome and exhausting contest that was tight with a dash of controversy instead.
Don't think of this as a loss for the Wolfpack, but a big win for the ACC. A loss would have poured cold water all over the upcoming October showdown with Florida State, and the ACC really needs the television exposure.
Let's hear it for conference pride. A-C-C! A-C-C!