NC State-Clemson grades: Strong finish from Watson seals Tigers win
Clemson Tigers 24, NC State Wolfpack 17
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Clemson’s 24-17 win over NC State.
Quarterback grade: Deshaun Watson, 68.7
Watson finishes strong after inaccurate start
It wasn’t the sharpest day throwing the ball for Watson, who missed a number of throws and even on his completions, threw the ball with less-than-ideal ball location. Perhaps most concerning was the pick-six at the start of the second half as he misread the coverage and threw the ball directly to Mike Steven, and overthrew a post in the second quarter that was dropped by NC State safety Shawn Boone. There was still plenty of good, including a strong run for a touchdown and an anticipation-post route early in the fourth quarter that hit WR Mike Williams in stride. Expectations are always high for Watson and this wasn’t his finest outing overall.
Top offensive grades
RT Jake Fuhmorgen 74.0
LG Tyrone Crowder 71.2
TE Jordan Leggett 70.5
C Jay Guillermo 69.7
WR Mike Williams 68.4
Offense has few bright spots
There weren’t a lot of top performances on the offensive side, as WR Mike Williams would be much higher on the list had he not fumbled in the third quarter. He was Watson’s go-to guy and caught 12 of his 16 targets for 146 yards and a score. After running back Wayne Gallman went down to injury after only two carries, RB C.J. Fuller found little room to run and even Watson had to fight for every yard in the designed run game. RT Jake Fruhmorgen deserves credit for posting his top grade of the season at 74.0.
Top defensive grades
CB Ryan Carter 82.6
CB Marcus Edmond 82.5
ED Christian Wilkins 82.5
DI Carlos Watkins 81.9
S Jadar Johnson 78.9
Clemson wins up front and on the back end
Carlos Watkins and Christian Wilkins set the tone up front as neither player was blocked often in the run game and Watkins had his best pass-rushing game of the season with two sacks, two QB hits and a hurry on 39 rushes. Wilkins has taken to more of an edge role in impressive fashion this season and he led the team with four stops to go with a rushing first down on the fake punt. The Clemson cornerbacks played well as Marcus Edmond hauled in the game-ending interception in overtime while Ryan Carter allowed only four receptions on 10 targets to go with two passes defensed. Potential first-round pick Cordrea Tankersley played tight coverage for much of the afternoon but did get called for a holding penalty.
NC State Wolfpack
Quarterback grade: Ryan Finley, 64.6
Inaccuracy and game-ending interception story of the game for Finley
After taking good care of the ball during the first part of the season, Finley was playing with fire for much of the game Saturday and it came back to bite on the final play of the season as he floated a post route for the game-ending interception. He misread coverage early in the game and got away with a dropped interception by CB Ryan Carter and floated another sideline pass against cover-2 that was nearly picked off as well. Finley’s game was marred with inaccuracy early on, but he does deserve credit for a strong finish leading up to overtime, including two keep passes that were dropped.
Top offensive grades
TE Jaylen Samuels 75.8
RB Matthew Dayes 74.8
WR Kelvin Harmon 70.3
TE Cole Cook 69.8
QB Ryan Finley 64.6
Offensive line struggles, Samuels and Dayes carry the offense
In addition to the many false start penalties, the offensive line was hit or miss in the running game and they were protected by a quick passing game. TE Jalen Samuels did his usual work making plays all over the field as he lined up in the slot, at tight end and in the backfield to catch his eight passes for 100 yards. RB Matthew Dayes maximized his blocking showing good burst and decisive running in NC State’s zone-heavy scheme.
Top defensive grades
CB Dravious Wright 87.5
ED Bradley Chubb 79.5
S Shawn Boone 78.6
CB Mike Stevens 78.1
CB Niles Clark 76.9
Wright leads the way as NC State’s defense nearly leads the upset
It was an impressive effort by NC State’s defense against the multitude of playmakers that Clemson brings to the table. CB Dravious Wright was a one-man show as he forced a fumble on RB Wayne Gallman before later forcing and recovering a fumble on the goal line. CB Mike Stevens had a pock-6 and got his hands on two other passes. On the edge, Bradley Chubb continued his strong season with two QB hits and three hurries on his 40 rushes while also showing well against the run.