Focus: Auburn

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Monday will be the start of the most-anticipated week of the football season – game week.

Fall camp is in the rear view mirror, many of the position battles have sorted themselves out, and the Clemson Tigers began late last week preparing for Auburn, their opponent in next Saturday’s season opener in the Georgia Dome in the second game of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

Clemson’s Tigers return a wealth of playmakers on offense, but with a new defensive coordinator and the specter of the Orange Bowl looming in the background, many eyes will be on Clemson’s defense as it begins a new regime under Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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Defensive tackle Josh WatsonJosh Watson
RS So. Defensive Tackle
#91 6-4, 285
Wilmington, DE

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– expected to be a part of a three-man rotation at the defensive tackle spot – said late last week that he thinks the defense will not be a weak link in the 2012 season.

“We are just a bunch of coachable guys,” Watson said. “We understand that we are just a part of the puzzle, and when we do our jobs on the line, then the linebackers can do their jobs and the guys in the secondary can do their jobs. But when you are missing a piece, the puzzle is broken. I think this year we have a bunch of guys who understand their roles and they come out every day to learn and get better.”

Auburn’s Tigers have a new offensive coordinator in Scot Loeffler, who arrives in Auburn after spending last season as the offensive coordinator at Temple. The Owls ranked 63rd nationally in offense at 383.17 yards per game while averaging just over 30 points per game. Before Temple, Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach at Florida from 2009-10, was the quarterbacks coach for the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 2008 and was the quarterbacks coach at Michigan from 2002-07.

Watson said the defense has split time between watching Auburn film and Temple film.

“We have watched a little bit of Temple and a good bit of Auburn so far,” Watson said. “Obviously, we really don’t have a lot of film on them because of their new coordinator, so we haven’t really seen a lot on either team. But I am sure early next week we will watch a lot more film and really dive into the game plan. Watching Temple film, it looks like they run in between the tackles even more than Auburn did last season, which I welcome. Other than that, I don’t have a good read on them yet.”

He said that what he has seen looks familiar.

“What I saw on Auburn, their offensive blocking schemes are almost parallel to our offensive schemes and the way we block,” Watson said. “We have been playing against that since the spring, and really the past two years. So we should be ready for the center pulls and the guard pulls. We are used to all of the blocks they are doing, so there is no reason not to play fast and make plays out there.”

Watson was asked if there was one player that stood out to him on the offensive side of the ball for Auburn, and he mentioned center Reese Dismukes, who was a freshman All-American last season. However, DIsmukes was arrested late Friday night and charged with public intoxication and was suspended by Auburn head coach Gene Chizik on Saturday for at least the Clemson game.

Watson said Dismukes might be Auburn’s best offensive lineman and best player.

“Their center, I think he was a freshman All-American, and he is a good player for sure,” he said. “I am sure they have other talent, but definitely the center is a ball player. He likes to maul people, so we have to keep his hands off of us. But we have gone against a physical guy in camp in Tyler ShatleyTyler Shatley
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#62 6-3, 295
Icard, NC

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. I am tired of hitting Shatley. He is a load, coming full force every play. He has been doing a good job of getting us ready.”

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