News and quotes from Clemson's win over Auburn


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Kevin Steele (WMA Format)


Brandon Thompson (WMA Format)


Tajh Boyd (WMA Format)


Rennie Moore (WMA Format)


Dwayne Allen (WMA Format)


Dalton Freeman (WMA Format)


D.J. Howard (WMA Format)

CLEMSON – Quotes and news from Clemson’s 38-24 win over No. 21 Auburn Saturday afternoon.

CLEMSON HEAD COACH DABO SWINNEY

On play of offensive line
“They were ready. Robbie Caldwell did a great job getting them ready. They executed. An offense that has 640 yards, that’s incredible. That starts with the guys up front. They finished the game. I told our guys that our fronts on both sides were going to be an advantage for us, and they were.”

On play of freshmen
“Guys have to step up. You have to be ready when your number is called. Guys like Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS So. Offensive Line
#63 6-4, 300
Spartanburg, SC

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, Mike BellamyMike Bellamy
Fr. Running Back
#5 5-10, 187
Nocatee, FL

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, and Charone PeakeCharone Peake
Fr. Wide Receiver
#19 6-4, 210
Moore, SC

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were critical in this win. D.J. HowardD.J. Howard
RS Fr. Running Back
#22 5-11, 190
Lincoln, AL

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was an Auburn commit and it was really fitting thathe was our leading rusher. He was ready. So many guys made plays today.”

AUBURN HEAD COACH GENE CHIZIK

“I felt like from the second quarter on, overall as a football team, we were not productive. We were not making plays when we had opportunities to do so. It’s very glaring that defensively, we have a lot of work to do. It’s very glaring that offensively, we can’t turn the ball over going into the red zone and we have to sustain some more drives. Time of possession is becoming an issue with our team, certainly with the number of plays we’re playing defensively. That’s really a combination of both the inability to convert on third downs for ourselves and the inability to get off the field on third downs defensively.”

On what changed for his team after the first quarter
“As the game wore on, I thought tackling became an issue for our defense. As the game wore on, I thought we were in position to make plays when we went up for the ball and they went up for the ball, and we didn’t come up with the football. We had opportunities on third downs. We had opportunities to
stop them for a loss or at least for no gain, and they out-executed us. It was all-around an extremely disappointing performance defensively, and at many times offensively it was the same.”

CLEMSON CENTER Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#55 6-5, 285
Pelion, SC

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On better play of the offensive line
“We felt much more confident this week and much better prepared. We really took it personally when people said we were soft. We had a great week of practice and really got better prepared. This is a very mature group. For a young guy like Brandon Thomas to step up and gel with us, that was a big thing for us.”

CLEMSON DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR KEVIN STEELE

On first half problems

“Essentially, we had five horrendous snaps in the first half. Five horrendous snaps. They are going to make some yards, but we are just giving up some chunk plays. Sometimes, if you play with fire too much you are going to get burned.”

On play in the second half

“We played good in the second half, but we have to start playing the first half the same way. We have to stay calm and get things corrected. Just stay calm and get it fixed.”

On interception by cornerback Coty SensabaughCoty Sensabaugh
RS Sr. Defensive Back
#15 6-0, 180
Kingsport, TN

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, who just missed one earlier

“That would have been a house call [touchdown] if he had caught the first one. We were in a pressure situation, and they made a box call, where they knew we were bringing pressure and they looked over at the sideline. So we killed out of it, and then we just rolled the coverage and Coty made a great play.”

CLEMSON WR Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
Fr. Wide Receiver
#7 6-2, 200
Fort Myers, FL

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“I want to thank our coaches for giving me a chance to play. They’ve been so supportive. I felt great. I wasn’t really thinking about records, I was just focusing on beating Auburn. I kept thinking ‘We have to beat them.’ I wasn’t thinking about touchdowns, I wasn’t thinking about yards. I was just thinking “we have to beat Auburn.”

On making plays

“The offense kind of disappeared for a while. We all had to step up and make the big ‘spark’ plays to get us going again. We really had to stick up for the defense. The defense came in and stuck up for us when we weren’t making plays, and we had to step up and stick up for them.”

CLEMSON DE Andre BranchAndre Branch
RS Sr. Defensive End
#40 6-5, 260
Richmond, VA

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“We just had to settle down [after the first half] and do our jobs. We all knew about Auburn and their trickery- trying to make plays. All we had to do was settle down and do our jobs.”

CLEMSON DT Brandon ThompsonBrandon Thompson
Sr. Defensive Tackle
#98 6-2, 310
Thomasville, GA

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“We already knew what was coming. We just had to go on the field and do it. We had to keep pushing. We are a great team and we knew we were a great team. We just had to keep pushing and fight. The offense was dominant in the second half. It was amazing to watch those guys do what they do.”

CLEMSON DT Rennie MooreRennie Moore
RS Sr. Defensive Tackle
#94 6-4, 270
Saint Marys, GA

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On showing leadership

“That’s my job. I’m out here for my boys, my family and Clemson. That’s what we do it for. We had to turn it up a notch on defense. They did a real good job on offense. That misdirection is something to see.”

On putting pressure on Auburn QB Barrett Trotter

“Pressure busts pipes and we busted their pipes today. You don’t even know the feeling. It’s great to know that we are going to handle ours and they are going to handle their’s [the offense]. I don’t see anyone stopping us. It takes all of us to stay together and work hard and do our jobs to finish out the game. It’s just us. Coach Steele tells us what we need to change and we just go out there and do our job and correct it. I’m proud of my defense. I’m proud of my offense. We played together as a team. I think we showed a lot today. They shot their load earlier. We just had to sit back, read the play, and get the keys right.”

CLEMSON WR NUK HOPKINS

“From the backups to the starters, everybody came out and made plays. We went three-and-out on the first two possessions. We aren’t satisfied with what we got. We know we can do better. Coach Morris made sure to tell us not to get conceded that we had Florida State coming in here next week.”

On the crowd

“Not since the Miami game that year that we took them to overtime have I seen the crowd that loud. That’s the loudest since then. That’s what we came here for-games like this. Guys got the ball and they knew that had to make a play for the team. All of the guys stepped up and made plays when we needed it.”

On beating Auburn

“That was real big. I played a couple of snaps last year, but I didn’t play a lot. The guys that did play the whole game last year, they felt the pain and how it felt to leave the stadium with a loss. They are a good team and we are a good team. We played hard and came out victorious.”

On his touchdown grab

“I felt his [Auburn DB] hand on it. I knew I had to come down with it and make a play for my team. That’s what I tried to do.”

On blocking downfield on Watkins’ second touchdown

“That’s what they’ve been preaching to us since we’ve been here- blocking down field is going to get you in the game. Everyone can catch out here, but blocking is what’s going to elevate your game. I was trying to show that.”

CLEMSON OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHAD MORRIS

“I think the first thing that we have to talk about is the challenge that we put forth on our offensive line, myself included- not just challenging the o-line, but challenging everybody to work harder and to play more physical. I think you saw that today. I think you saw that as the game went on we were able to wear them down and run the football when we had to and burn nine minutes off the clock. Is this a sign that the offense is maturing, believing and coming along? Absolutely. This is just a sign, a spark, that these guys needed. It’s about them buying into what we’re selling. It’s not about the plays. It’s about the players and them buying in to what I’m about and my personality. I’m proud of them and I love them, but we have to show back up Monday ready to work.”

On offensive line

“I think you have to look at the offensive line without a doubt- protecting Tajh very well. When we had to run the football, we ran the football. I think there were some things that we were holding back until now to show and had been working on to take a little bit of stress off of the offensive line. They did a great job. I am extremely proud of those guys. I’m not satisfied, but I’m proud. They could’ve went one way the other this week. They could’ve pouted and thrown their hands up which we weren’t going to have or they could bow their necks. We want them to bow their necks and let’s play physical and learn how to practice physical. That’s what they did this week. They didn’t like me, but that’s ok. I told them that if that’s what it takes- you to not like me to play, then that’s great. I am proud of them. Dalton [Freeman] and Landon [Walker], those guys have a lot of pride and they took a lot of abuse this week. They stepped forward and I’m proud of those guys.”

On being down early

“I thought you saw the ownership all throughout the game. You are down 14 points, what are you going to do? Nobody was fazed. He just kept growing up and making great plays, talking to me on the sideline and pulling the ball down and running it. I think you saw the ownership when he was communicating and interacting with those guys on the sidelines.

You have to give them credit too. I’m sure they practiced hard this week too. Obviously, I didn’t want to go three-and-out on the first two drives. We knew at that point that if we could just figure out what was going on, get the nerves calmed down. Tajh under throws a ball on first down and we were losing on first down and that’s what happened.”

On Sammy Watkins

“Sammy is who we all hoped he could be. He can catch the football as well as run the football. I think our plan this week was good- getting the ball to him in space and handing the ball to him to let him run it. Phenomenal athlete. Better person than he is football player. He’s a winner. You want the ball in those playmakers hands.”

On his favorite play

“I like the victory one right there in the end to get the win. The big pass to Dwayne [Allen] to set up coming into the West Endzone. We didn’t score on it. That was huge. And, the pass to Dwayne for the touchdown. The third down conversion where he dumped the ball to the hot read- last week we got sacked trying to do that. This week he picks his hot up, throws it to Sammy and Sammy goes on to score. We’re not ready to deem him a Heisman trophy candidate yet. He has to realize that it takes hard work and you have to continue working hard. Sammy has gotten it from day one. There’s no question about that. He stepped on campus and you knew right then that he was special. He had a different air about himself. He was ready to go. He understands it. He is far more mature at his age than any other true freshman.”

On second half success

“I think you see the offense building confidence in each of the second halves including the first and second games. We just need to put four quarters together. You saw the offense really start to gel and come together. It’s whatever it took. That’s why we are here. We knew what we faced with [offensive coordinator] Gus [Malzahn] and that they could score. We just have to tell them to settle down and do our jobs.”

CLEMSON TE Dwayne AllenDwayne Allen
RS Jr. Tight End
#83 6-3, 245
Fayetteville, NC

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“The faster we play the more physical we are going to be. The guys really stuck in there this week and got down to game plan so that they could play fast. We know that we can stick in there with anybody. Whenever we go down, we just have to have confidence in each other and know that we are going to be able to get it out of there. In the second half we were just talking to each other and saying, ‘let’s go.’ We turned it on.”

On big win

“It feels great. It gives us a huge boost of confidence, not only beating the defending national champions, but an SEC opponent. We are going into our ACC schedule with Florida State and then at Virginia Tech. Those are two tough games that we really needed this game to give us confidence that we can pull out a W.”

On revenge

“A lot [of a revenge factor]. We didn’t have to take them to overtime this year and that was great. We finished with the ball in the offense’s hands. That was great. Whenever you can finish a game and take a knee, it is the best feeling in the world.”

On slow start

“We had those three-and-outs to start with and it was nothing up front, so we knew that we could run the ball and do what we want. It was third down. We had to complete a third down. We just talked to each other and everything just started rolling.”

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