CLEMSON — NC State had a major breakthrough under head coach Dave Doeren last season.
After dropping eight consecutive games to Clemson, the Wolfpack finally came out on top in the Textile Bowl.
NC State earned a 27-21 double-overtime win over Clemson, which marked Doeren’s first victory over the Tigers.
“It’s a big step, you know,” Doeren said at ACC Kickoff. “I think until you do it, it’s not something that you’re used to doing. It’s an intimidating thing, maybe. There’s a blockade there somewhere mentally for the players or the coaches. Once you knock somebody off like that, you’re like, ‘Yea, it’s something that we expect to do now.'”
With quarterback Devin Leary and a talented defense returning, NC State very well could present Clemson a big challenge this fall at Death Valley.
Most expect the Tigers and Wolfpack to be the top two teams in the Atlantic Division in 2022.
NC State will head into this year’s matchup with more confidence after the way last season’s game unfolded.
“We’ve been in tight games with them in my tenure four times and hadn’t gotten it done,” Doeren said. “And so to be able to take that play and finally make it at the end was a huge step for the program.”
Defense led way for NC State against Clemson
NC State linebacker Drake Thomas had a simple message to quarterback Devin Leary before last year’s meeting with Clemson.
“Going into that game, we’re having conversations, talking to Leary, like, ‘Put 21 on the board and we’ll be good. Just give us 21 and we’re good,’” Thomas recalled.
As it turns out, that’s all the Wolfpack needed.
The score was tied at 14 at the end of regulation, and NC State eventually held on for a 27-21 victory.
“It just gave us a little bit more confidence. Like it’s doable. It’s not impossible,” Thomas said. “It just gives us a little bit more extra confidence going into this next year, because everything that’s in front of us feels like we can accomplish it.”