Behind Enemy Lines: Joe Giglio, Raleigh News and Observer

Richmond NC State Football

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON — A day late, but definitely not a dollar short, for our weekly visit with an opposing team’s beat writer.

Joe Gigilo, who writes for the Raleigh News and Observer and Charlotte Observer, is today’s extraordinaire dishing on North Carolina State. No. 3 Clemson takes on the Wolfpack Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, and as always, we’ll host a live game blog throughout the evening on

Give Joe a follow here on Twitter.

Aaron Brenner, Tiger Tracks: It seemed like coach Dave Doeren and both NC State players at ACC Media Days carried a swagger about them. Has that been sustained into mid-September? 

Joe Giglio, News and Observer: There’s definitely a new-found confidence among the players. That was more apparent in the opener, a 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech, than the last game, a 23-21 comeback win over Richmond, but I think overall the players have been energized by Doeren and the new coaching staff.

Brenner: Really tough luck with the quarterback battle being decided by an injury. What does the Wolfpack expect out of Pete Thomas

Giglio: Arkansas transfer Brandon Mitchell was the clear-cut winner in August. He looked about as good as you could expect a fifth-year transfer in a new situation for two series. And then he broke a bone in his left foot.

Thomas has not been able to run the offense in rhythm the same way Mitchell did. He holds the ball too long and he’s not a threat to run the ball like Mitchell. That’s why freshman Bryant Shirreffs has been used to run the read option.

Brenner: How would you describe State’s offensive system, and how it might try to replicate last year’s 48-point outburst at Clemson? 

Giglio: N.C. State uses a lot of the same plays and formations as Clemson, with a little more emphasis on running the football. Doeren likes to say his offense is a combination of Oregon’s and Wisconsin’s.

I don’t think State will score 48 again or even the 37 from the win in 2011.

Brenner: On the flip side, what’s this year’s Pack got to do to not let Tajh Boyd and company rack up 62 points? 

Giglio: The secondary was terrible in last year’s game at Clemson. They didn’t have much help in front of them, either, from the linebackers. The win at Carter-Finley Stadium in 2011 was all about the pressure N.C. State’s front seven was able to put on Boyd, who without Sammy Watkins, wasn’t very good in that game.

Brenner: Would you say the 2011 Clemson upset or 2012 Florida State upset applies more when evaluating NC State’s chances of a shocker Thursday night? 

Giglio: The win over FSU last year was a bigger surprise than the win over Clemson in 2011 and this would qualify as a bigger shock, and win, than both. N.C. State is in rebuilding mode with a new coach and without an NFL quarterback for the first time in six years.

The Hangover, Part II: Scouting North Carolina State

@Aaron_Brenner | Tiger Tracks on Facebook

CLEMSON – Welcome back to game week. Time to shift into fifth gear on focusing on ACC action, and it’s a doozy of a test to start things off for top-five squad Clemson. Don’t let the Vegas line fool you.

Rashard Smith

Who: No. 3 Clemson (2-0) at North Carolina State (2-0)

When: Thursday, 7:45 p.m. ET

Where: Carter-Finley Stadium (57,583) | Raleigh, N.C.

TV: ESPN (Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack, Samantha Ponder)

Radio: Clemson Radio Network (WQSC-AM 1340 in Charleston) | Affiliates

Line: Clemson by -13.5

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With Chad Morris and Brent Venables, Clemson might have the hottest one-two coordinator punch in the country

Does Chad Morris take the ball away from Andre Ellington too early in games?


Success is a double-edged sword in the realm of keeping top assistants.

Put it this way: if Chad Morris or Brent Venables (or both) are holding a press conference introducing themselves as new head coaches somewhere else within the next year, it probably means Clemson had a wonderful 2013 football season.

Morris is on Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart’s level as one of the country’s hottest head coaching prospects, and Venables isn’t far behind, wrote Travis Haney on Friday for ESPN Insider. Haney’s a former Post & Courier beat writer, with experience covering Clemson and South Carolina.

Here’s what Haney wrote about Morris Friday, in dignifying the Tigers’ offensive coordinator as Smart’s equal as the top coordinator on athletic director’s minds:

“Morris, when I met with him in April, felt as if Clemson was not far off the championship pace. Really, that has only been the case since he arrived … the Texas Tech job would have been ideal if Kliff Kingsbury were not available or interested. So, let’s say Texas goes after Art Briles or Gary Patterson when Mack Brown retires, whenever that happens. Baylor or TCU — or the like — would be pretty logical spots for Morris, a native Texan.”

Brent VenablesAs for Venables, Haney ranks him eighth on the list of coordinators soon to be sitting in the big man’s chair. Writes Haney: “His name was hotter a few years back when he was at Oklahoma, and that’s one reason some people close to Venables told me he ultimately left OU for Clemson … The personable, energetic Venables is a dogged recruiter. He loves it. That is attractive to ADs (it helped get Dave Doeren the NC State job). He’s proving himself on the field, too.”

Of the 13 coordinators Haney identified, they represented powerhouses Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Ohio State and Texas – which have combined for seven of the 15 BCS Championship Game victories.

But there was only one school who saw BOTH their coordinators identified: Clemson.


For kicks, let’s check out a baker’s dozen former coordinators who capitalized on their assistant tenure to earn head coaching jobs:

Paul Chryst, Pittsburgh. Took him a while for everything to click, but a remarkable seven-year run in his native Madison culminated in a couple of Rose Bowl appearances for Wisconsin.

David Cutcliffe, Duke. Being tight with Peyton Manning has its spoils. Reviving Tennessee’s offense again with Erik Ainge a decade after guiding Manning proves his ability.

Dave Doeren, North Carolina State. He capitalized on a couple of Rose Bowl appearances leading Wisconsin’s defense, and then rewarded Northern Illinois with a BCS berth last year before moving to Raleigh.

Larry Fedora, North Carolina. His spread offense evolved Oklahoma State into the high-octane attack it remains today.

Mike London, Virginia. Picked up where Al Golden left off with the Cavaliers’ defense the middle of last decade, and now both guys are at the helm of ACC Coastal programs.

Mark Dantonio, Michigan State. Look, you produce back-to-back stingy defenses at Ohio State (including a championship), other schools start to notice. Like Cincinnati and the Spartans.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech. See: Manziel, Johnny.

Gus Malzahn, Auburn. See: Newton, Cameron.

Todd Monken, Southern Miss. He isn’t starting in the most lavish locale, but his fine work with the Oklahoma State offense speaks for itself.

Dan Mullen, Mississippi State. Tim Tebow’s offensive coordinator at Florida, Tebow scored two BCS Championship rings with the Gators. The guy who supplanted Mullen, Steve Addazio, also qualifies on this list as he’s now at Boston College.

Will Muschamp, Florida. The ultimate laundry-list-of-accomplishments coordinator: LSU, Auburn and Texas convinced the Longhorns to designate him Mack Brown’s successor, but the chance to replace Urban Meyer allowed Muschamp not to have to wait that long.

Mark Stoops, Kentucky. From the plum gig in Florida State to a fixer-upper in Lexington.

Gene Chizik, formerly Iowa State & Auburn. For all his bumblings as a head coach (you know, except that 2010 Cam-paign), people forget Chizik led defenses to undefeated seasons at Auburn and Texas – in back-to-back years (2004-05.)

If you’re someone like, say, Jimbo Fisher (Florida State) or Bret Bielema (then-Wisconsin), you can be named head-coach-in-waiting. Or like Scott Shafer (Syracuse), David Shaw (Stanford) and Mark Helfrich (Oregon), wait until your stud boss flees for the NFL.