When Clemson and NC State meet Saturday afternoon, they'll do so without a full complement of big uglies. State has been without guard Joe Thuney because of illness; Dave Doeren said Thursday that he is going to have to sit against the Tigers as well. Clemson will be without tackle Joe Gore, who recently had to have his appendix removed. Gore has made three starts, but his inconsistent play bumped him to second string last weekend.
That's just the latest in a string of setbacks up front for Clemson, which can't seem to find a set group of five guys it can count on.
Offensive coordiantor Chad Morris was asked this week if he had five linemen he could trust.
"No," he said. "We've got five guys, but we've got guys moving all over the field. We played eight, seven the week before. We've got guys playing three positions. That's an area where we're thin from a numbers standpoint."
Ryan discussed Clemson's OL troubles at length in our Q&A this morning, if you missed it.
Specifically, [Isaiah] Battle had another mediocre performance for a guy who is supposed to be trying to get to the NFL. He has been difficult in practice and pretty much a basket case this year. Major disappointment. Needs more maturing but there is no one behind him, no one. Gore is the same head case with untapped potential. Kalon Davis at RT is serviceable but really struggles with his feet in pass coverage. David Beasley is still really, really fat. Norton is too small and gets zero push while Guillermo has been banged up (did get 47 snaps in the game).
Clemson managed just 92 rushing yards on 44 carries against the Tar Heels, which is not an atypical performance for them this year. Against Georgia, the Tigers ran for 88 yards on 43 carries; against FSU, they went for 101 yards on 40 rushes. Ugly, ugly numbers.
Despite the trouble running the ball, though, Clemson threw the ball effectively in each of the last two weeks. NC State is going to have to change that.