Monday Notes and Quotes from the West Zone

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Notes and quotes from Monday morning’s interview session in the West Zone at Clemson.

The Tigers began preparation on Sunday for this weekend’s game at Auburn. Both teams are 2-0, with Clemson coming off of a 58-21 home win against Presbyterian. Auburn went on the road and defeated Miss. St. last Thursday by a 17-14 count.

*Redshirt freshman kicker Chandler Catanzaro kicked the first field goal of his Clemson career on Saturday, a 47-yarder, and he said he felt like it took forever before the play finally happened.

There was a review of the play before the kick, and following the review there was some confusion on where the spot should actually be, and Catanzaro said he waited – somewhat patiently.

“It felt like it took an hour for that to happen,” Catanzaro said. “I was standing around, and they were trying to figure out where to spot the ball. But it was good to finally get that first kick out of the way.”

Catanzaro was reminded that this Saturday’s atmosphere at Auburn will be far different than the friendly confines of Death Valley, and he said that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney makes sure there is plenty of pressure on his kicks during practice.

“I’ve had him screaming in my ear just as I was about to kick,” Cat Man said. “I’ve had stuff thrown right across my vision as I’m going to kick, and I’ve had stuff thrown at me, trying to distract me. But it’s not just me; it’s the snappers and holders, too. I’ve seen on film later where the snapper is having his leg rubbed by the defensive lineman, or their shoes being taken off.”

Special teams coach Andre Powell drew a few chuckles from the assembled media when he was asked how you prepare a freshman for an environment like Auburn, and his answer was pure Powell.

“Tell him to wear his rubber underwear,” Powell said. “So if he pees himself, it doesn’t stain up his white dungarees.”

Powell did follow that up by saying he doesn’t expect Catanzaro to be nervous.

“Nothing else has fazed him,” Powell said. “I can’t sit here and tell you he’s going to go down there and nail them all. But the kid has done nothing to tell me that he’d get nervous.”

*Defensive end Andre Branch played the bandit position on Saturday, and after seeing Auburn quarterback Cam Newton struggle when Miss. St moved to the 3-4 defense last Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Branch play a lot of bandit next Saturday or even act as a spy on Newton.

He said he watched the game last Thursday and realizes that Newton will be a handful.

“He’s a very talented, big quarterback,” Branch said. “He has a powerful arm, but he also can scramble, so we will have to stay in our rush lanes. If we do our job, we should be fine.”
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said that he trusts Branch to play bandit because he plays well with his eyes, and Branch told TigerNet what he thought that meant.

“I tend to see plays before they happen,” he said. “Against a player like Newton, if you get out of position, he can get out of the box real quick. But at bandit, you have to be able to move around and show athleticism.”

*Right tackle Landon Walker said he has watched Auburn’s tape, as well as last Thursday’s ESPN game, and he thinks the Tigers could have success running inside, even though Clemson and Miss. St. have different running schemes.

“They have a good defensive front,” Walker said. “Miss. St. is more of a zone, draw and shotgun team, so we are a little different. They have an experienced front, and I know that 90 and 98 are really good players, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. We practice against great players all the time.”

He was asked if offensive coordinator Billy Napier has opened up the playbook “all the way” yet, and Walker said, with a big smile, “I wouldn’t say completely.”

*Linebacker Corico Hawkins may have been one of the last people associated with the Clemson program to know that ESPN College GameDay’s is going to be at Auburn on Saturday.

“We got GameDay? You are telling me something new,” Hawkins said when he was asked about the potential atmosphere on Saturday.

However, he said that the atmosphere at Auburn shouldn’t be a problem once the game begins.

“Once you get out there, and you get in the zone, the crowd doesn’t matter,” he said. “We play in front of a lot of fans. But when the game starts, the crowd really doesn’t matter. If you have a player that is looking in the stands, then he has lost focus. You have to be 100 percent, totally focused on what is going on between the white lines.

*Receivers coach Jeff Scott has had a rotation of eight receivers in the first two games, and he was asked on Monday if that rotation would change based on what he saw against Presbyterian. Scott said that the decision would be made based not only on the PC and North Texas games, plus what happens in practice this week.

“I want to see how they practice this week,” he said. “I really can’t say at this point if we will play eight guys or five or six, and we might not know that until Friday or Saturday.”

Freshman receiver Bryce McNeal said, however, that Scott told the receivers this morning that this week could be different for some of the receivers.

“He told us to not get our feelings hurt if some of us don’t even get one play this week,” McNeal said.

*If Auburn manages to sell out Saturday’s game, it will be the largest crowd ever to watch Clemson play a football game. Auburn lists its capacity at 87,451 and the game is expected to be a sellout. The record, entering this weekend, was the 86,520 that attended the Clemson game at Georgia in 2002, a 31-28 Tiger loss.

*Auburn head coach Gene Chizik began his collegiate coaching career at Clemson, working with the linebackers as a graduate assistant for two seasons from 1988-89. The Tigers went 20-4 in his two years, including wins in the 1988 Citrus and 1989 Gator Bowls.

*Clemson defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Kevin Steele is the brother of Auburn Associate Athletics Director for Facilities & Operations, Jeff Steele.

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