Tale Of The Tape: #14 Clemson At Auburn
- CoachingDabo Swinney is now in his fifth season and looking to take Clemson to the next level after a BCS bowl appearance last year.Gene Chizik went 5-19 in two seasons at Iowa State, making Auburn’s decision to hire him before the start of the 2009 season questionable at best. And then Chizik won a national championship in his second year.
- OffenseQuarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins hooked up early and often last season. Boyd threw 33 touchdown passes last year, 13 of them being to Watkins. Unfortunately, Watkins will serve the first of his two-game suspension on Saturday.New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler will have to find a reliable quarterback if Auburn is going to make progress on that side of the ball as it moves towards a more pro-style attack.
- DefenseDefensive coordinator Brent Venables comes to Clemson after a long stint at Oklahoma. The reason? The Tigers gave up an eye-popping 70 points in their Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia.Auburn also has a new defensive coordinator, Brian VanGordor, who joins Chizik’s staff from the Atlanta Falcons. He has nine returning starters to work with.
- Special TeamsAll of Clemson’s special teams units should be above average, more so once Watkins returns.Auburn should be strong in all special teams categories. Punter Steven Clark is a returning All-American.
The Clemson Tigers will win, we know that much. Without Watkins, Clemson will struggle offensively at times, but should be able to pull out a victory against an Auburn program that is still rebuilding since Cam Newton left town.