Elliott says his offense "will be tested under the lights in Death Valley"


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Hunter Renfrow goes up for the catch last year at Auburn
Hunter Renfrow goes up for the catch last year at Auburn

CLEMSON – Inside the Clemson football offices this weekend, the page quickly turned from the opening win over Kent St. to this weekend’s primetime matchup with Auburn, and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott knows his offense will face a true challenge.

Clemson defeated Auburn 19-13 at Jordan-Hare last season, turning in what would eventually be season lows in points (19) and total yards (399). Elliott, talking to the media Monday in the Poe Indoor Practice Facility, said the offense was its own worst enemy.

“When you watched the Auburn game, obviously we came out with a win, but we did not play our best football,” Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator said. “We started the game with a procedure penalty, we had dropped balls, and we were not as consistent at running the ball at times as we wanted to be.”

The Tigers started fast in Saturday’s win, a 56-3 romp over outmanned Kent St.

“You saw a team that looked like it had been practicing for thirty practices, so that was pleasing as a coach,” Elliott said. “You always worry about an opener. You have first-time players out there. You have a new quarterback, you have a new center, and you have a lot of new pieces, but the communication was where it needed to be. The targeting was where it needed to be. The effort was there. So we’re very pleased with how these guys prepared and how focused they were going into that opener.”

However, Auburn poses a far different challenge than the one given by Kent St. – current Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has players like linebacker Jeff Holland and defensive linemen Marlon Davidson and Byron Cowart. Auburn limited Georgia Southern to just 78 total yards in Saturday’s 41-7 win.

Elliott says his Tigers face the same caliber of defense every day in practice.

“I think the confidence for our guys comes from who they practice against,” Elliott said. “Throughout the course of fall camp, they have been going against one of the best defenses in the country, and now they are really going to be tested under the lights in the Valley versus the Auburn defense.

“I think the guys will be excited to play, obviously. I don’t feel like they will be overwhelmed, but they are going to be challenged by the athleticism, how fundamentally sound they are, how they play. It is going to be a good challenge for us.”

Steele’s Tigers finished 28th nationally in total defense last season, and Elliott said Steele’s attack has changed since his days at Clemson and that Clemson will have to have fewer mistakes than last season.

“He’s adapted. I think his scheme is a little more simple now,” he said. “They can run with you at all positions. They are physical at the point of attack. I just think we did drop a bunch of balls. We dropped a couple of touchdowns. We had some big plays that we left out there. There is no matchup advantage we have that we feel like, as opposed to some of the other teams defensively.”

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