For a second consecutive week, the Clemson football team is set to play a highly-regarded quarterback who will have thrown just one interception going into his game against the Tigers.
That didn’t stop Clemson from making life tough last week for Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya, who completed just 6 of 10 passes for 51 yards, was intercepted by Clemson junior safety Jadar Johnson and was forced to leave last Saturday’s 58-0 defeat in the second quarter after suffering a concussion on a sack by Shaq Lawson.
Clemson has picked off opposing quarterbacks in five of seven games and has 10 interceptions for the year. Coming up with a takeaway could be a more difficult challenge this Saturday when the Tigers defense goes against North Carolina State quarterback Jacoby Brissett in Raleigh, N.C.
“Watching Brad Kaaya last week through film, we see he only had one interception but we saw there were like six interceptions dropped,” Clemson safety Jayron Kearse said. “With Jacoby Brissett, I can’t say I’ve seen the same thing. He’s taken care of the ball pretty good.”
Brissett has completed 67 percent of his passesfor 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns. Between his final four games of 2014 and first six games of 2015, Brissett had an interception-free streak that went for 241 consecutive passes.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney described Brissett as a “very good football player that has a great command of what they’re doing.” Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables said Brissett is a smart, experienced quarterback “with confidence and leadership qualities.”
“He makes really good decisions,” Venables said.
North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren said his senior quarterback, in his second and final season in Raleigh after transferring from Florida, has become better at managing the game.
“Their passing game is through their run game,” Venables said. “They’ll do a lot of quick throws as well when they do spread you out, and they get the balls to the backs where they’re not necessarily vulnerable to a lot of high-risk throws.”
Playing in a run-first N.C. State offense that has 102 more rushing attempts than passing attempts, Brissett ranks 72nd in the FBS in passing yards per game (190.3) and 59th nationally in passing yards per attempt (7.3).
Brissett has demonstrated examples of his arm strength and ability to throw deep, like he did on a 58-yard touchdown against Wake Forest last Saturday. Brissett’s throw to freshman wide receiver Nyheim Hines was delivered with accuracy more than 50 yards through the air.
“He’s definitely throwing the ball deep better than he did a year ago and better accuracy,” Doeren said.
Brissett can also make plays as a runner. Not including the 14 sacks he has taken in seven games, the athletic, 6-foot-4, 235-pound quarterback has gained 197 yards on 40 running plays.
“He’s a dual-threat guy,” Venables said of Brissett. “He can run, he can throw it, he’s big and strong. He is hard to get down.”
Tigers vs. Wolfpack
Who: No. 3 Clemson (7-0, 4-0 ACC) at N.C. State (5-2, 1-2)
When: 3:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh
Line: Clemson by 10