BTP: Heading into the second half of the season, Clemson once again seems absolutely unstoppable on offense, and in complete command of the Atlantic Division. How have they been able to continue that dominating success?
RK: It's not as complicated as one might imagine. Dabo Swinney has assembled an outstanding coaching staff which includes the best defensive coordinator in the nation, Brent Venables. It appears that a bit of nepotism at Oklahoma pushed him out and we've benefited greatly. Position coaches Marion Hobby (DEs) and Dan Brooks (DLs) are the best in the business and defensive back coach Mike Reed was a strong steal from NC State.
Dabo has been given the resources to maintain most of his coaches with the only defections in recent memory being OC Chad Morris taking the SMU HC job and Charlie Harbinson leaving for Auburn. The staff recruits at an extremely high level and as such we've had an advantage in raw talent across the two deep in every game we've played excluding a trip to Auburn.
Another major factor has been QB play. The QB position is so critical to a program's success and we've been fortunate to have our two best QBs in 30+ years over the past six years with Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson under center for the Tigers.
BTP: After this game, the Tigers head to Tallahassee after a bye week, and a win there should all but lock up the Atlantic Division for Clemson. Are you worried that they might be looking ahead to that game, even if there is a bye week between now and then?
RK: If there was a chance for a let down game, it was at BC on the Friday following Louisville. With the bye week upcoming, I don't think they'll look past NC State too much.
BTP: Clemson has some well known players on their squad in Deshaun Watson and Wayne Gallman, but who is one player on the offense that may not have as much notoriety, but is equally important to their success?
RK: Sophomore WR Deon Cain is a player to watch. He has four TDs in the past two games and looks to continue making an impact after struggling with inexplicable drops early in the season.
BTP: How about on the defense? Who is one player on that side of the ball that Pack fans need to keep an eye on?
RK: Watch #90 Dexter Lawrence in the middle of the D-line. He was the #2 recruit in the country according to Rivals and has made an immediate impact as a true freshman. Despite good depth at DL, he has earned a starting position and is doing a great job in both stuffing the run and getting after the QB. He has gathered quite a few QB hurries. His success has allowed the Tigers to move DL Christian Wilkins to DE to temporarily fill in for the injured Austin Bryant.
BTP: Any major injuries to report heading into Saturday?
RK: Austin Bryant may make his return. He is listed as questionable. WR Mike Williams pulled a hamstring and is listed as questionable. If he is not at 100%, it will be even more important for Deon Cain to continue his recent strong play.
BTP: Let's get a prediction on the game - how do you see this game playing out?
RK: Every year I listen to Clemson fans worry about this game as if the Wolfpack have our number in the same vein that Georgia Tech did until recently. Clemson has won 11 of 12. Clemson is the more talented team. They're healthy and at home. I think the Tigers are really hitting their stride and they should win by two scores or more.