It’s Football Time Again!
By Acid Reign on August 30, 2012 Paraswarm@aol.com
Auburn has not lost in
the Georgia Dome since December of 2001!
War Eagle, everybody! Here we are, on
the day of the first college football games of the season! Time
seemed to stand still this summer, and we thought this day would
never arrive. We’ll watch South Carolina and Vanderbilt with great
interest tonight, but Auburn’s attention is on another South Carolina
team. On Saturday in the Georgia Dome, at 7:00 PM, Auburn takes on the defending
ACC Champion Clemson Tigers. It’s an ESPN headliner, and a great
opportunity for one of these teams to start the season with a bang.
As legendary Auburn coach Pat Dye used to say,
“the hay’s in the barn” for this game. Fall camp is done for both
teams, and the game plan is in place. The work’s been done, and all
that is left are walk-throughs. It’s going to be an interminable wait
for us, but just imagine what it will be like for the players! If
Auburn’s published depth is true, Auburn will be heading into the
opener with 12 players out of the top 22 playing their first game at
a new position. That’s Angelo Blackson at tackle, Dee Ford at
strongside end, Jonathan Evans at strong side linebacker, Darren
Bates at weak side linebacker, Ryan White at corner, Jermaine
Whitehead at strong safety, Ryan Smith at free safety, Greg Robinson
and Avery Young at offensive tackle, Tunde Fariyike at center, Trovon
Reed at wide receiver, and Khiel Frazier at quarterback. There’s a
nucleus of players in there that has played a lot of ball, but it’s
still a list that makes this Auburn fan nervous.
Clemson’s got worries, too. The status
of starting sophomore right tackle Gifford Timothy continues to be
uncertain. A week ago, it did not look like he’d play against Auburn.
Now he’s said to be getting reps. If he can’t go, or can only play
limited snaps, Clemson will likely use a freshman in his place, Shaq
Anthony. Given Auburn’s strength and depth at defensive end, it’s not
a good situation for Clemson. The Chad Morris/Malzhan offense posts
up the center and the tackles to take out linemen one-on-one, while
guards pull. We saw last year what happens when one or more of those
three post guys get beat consistently. The Malzhan offense is a mess
without all the blocks being made.
Senior Clemson running back Andre
Ellington had a terrific 140 yard day against Auburn in 2010, but
that number dwindled to just 46 yards on 14 carries last year, as he
split time with newcomer D. J. Howard. Where Clemson did the real
damage last year to the Auburn defense was through the air. Sammy
Watkins had 10 catches for 155 yards, but he’s suspended for this
game. DeAndre Hopkins, who is active for this game had 7 catches for
83 yards. Clemson will hope for others to step up, and take the
pressure off Hopkins, who’ll likely see a lot of double teams.
Clemson is really young at defensive
tackle, and inside linebacker. Maybe Auburn’s emergency starting
center, sophomore Tunde Fariyike can handle them. I think our OL
scheme is more suited to handle pressure than Clemson’s is. If Auburn
misses a block, we’ll have shorter splits, plus Prosch or Lutz to
pick up the free guy. Auburn’s O-Line is young, but they are
talented, and Clemson’s front seven, aside from scary ends, is really
young. Senior end Malliciah Goodman is a good one, and there’s no
real way for Auburn to simulate his size and speed on the the
practice field. Clemson is unsettled, and not as experienced as
they’d like at linebacker. There’s little doubt that Clemson will put
talented guys on the field, but sometimes those new linebacker
starters are a liability in early games, playing hesitantly, and not
sure of assignments.
Clemson’s senior kicker Chandler
Catanzaro is on a number of award watch lists, but Clemson has to
replace the strong leg of Dawson Zimmerman in the punting game.
Tapped as the replacement is senior Spencer Benton, who does have
some game experience. Auburn appears to have a bit of an edge in some
special teams areas, particular on the return teams. Clemson had
difficulty covering punts last season, giving up 9.3 yards per
I’d grant Auburn
the pressure edge. Auburn’s not highly regarded coming off last
season’s 5 big losses, while Clemson is a defending conference champ.
The heat is on Dabo’s team to prove that they are not the group that
gave up 73 points in the Orange Bowl.
for Auburn is that time has proven that it’s really tough for any
team to run for 100 yards against a Brent Venables defense. The
Auburn offense spent most of the spring working on the running game.
Where Venables has been suspect is against the committed, disciplined
passing attack. Can Auburn, with a new starting QB take advantage of
some matchup problems with Blake, Lutzenkirchen and McCalebb?
The Auburn defense
looked absolutely clueless against Chad Morris’ passing game last
season. Has Brian vanGorder had any experience defending against the
Gus Malzhan attack? History says no. The most recent SEC wisdom says
to attack the middle of the line against that attack, and hope your
corners and outside linebackers can make tackles in space. Auburn has
the talent, and the mismatch up front to make this happen. And at
least most of the defense has practiced against this offense in the
Honestly, the loss
of Reese Dismukes is a blow. Before that happened, I thought Auburn
had a great chance to get a big push on the offensive line. Now, I
think that matchup is at best a push. Maybe a bit of a Clemson
advantage, although they don’t have a lot of depth at either line
I’m excited to see
this new edition of the Auburn Tigers on the field, and we’ll know a
lot more by late Saturday evening. I had picked Auburn to win a close
one earlier this past spring, but my best guess now is a straight-up
As is our gameday
Saturday tradition, we’ll have an open thread up, and will be
checking in all day. We’re not sure how it will go Saturday night,
but I’m planning on doing my usual play-by-play. Honestly, I don’t
know if the new comment section will auto-refresh on your screen with
each new post. I’d suggest refreshing frequently, till we see how it
goes. That F5 key at the top center of your keyboard will reload the
page in most browsers. Should be an interesting new experience. As
always, feel free to chime in and participate! War Eagle, and beat