Three keys to beating Auburn

by - Senior Writer -

The last time we saw Auburn, the Tigers were running all over Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last December, and Auburn gets to play its second consecutive game in the Georgia Dome this Saturday, playing Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

Will Clemson see the Auburn team that gutted out a win over South Carolina on the road and beat Virginia in the bowl game, or the team that struggled to beat Utah St. in the opener and was outscored 208-69 in its five losses? Yep – 208-69 as Auburn gave up 38 points to Clemson, 38 points to Arkansas, 45 to LSU, 45 to Georgia and 42 to Alabama.

Auburn has two new coordinators, a rebuilt offensive line and a quarterback that lacks experience, and chances are that head coach Gene Chizik is in the same boat as Clemson head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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– he won’t know what kind of team he has until the lights come on and the whistle blows.

Clemson offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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said earlier this week that his team needs to just worry about Clemson, and the wins will take care of themselves. However, there are several keys to the game for Clemson that need to be accomplished in order to beat the other Tigers.

Let’s take a look at three of them:


The 2011 season was a tale of two seasons for the Tigers, who burst out of the gate with an 8-0 record and climbed to No. 5 in the BCS standings. During that stretch, Clemson had only eight turnovers and averaged fewer than four penalties. Then the wheels fell off the Clemson offensive machine -the Tigers lost four of their last six contests and finished 10-4, turning the ball over 16 times and averaging more than five penalties per contest and had four turnovers and six penalties in the 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl.

A large part of that was the play of quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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, who had 24 touchdowns and three interceptions in the first eight games of 2011. He threw for nine touchdowns with nine interceptions in the final six contests.

This is pretty clear- don’t turn the ball over and this team has a great chance of winning, as established last season. Turn the ball over, and bad things happen.


No one has to be reminded of Clemson’s struggle with running quarterbacks, and last year was no exception. Frazier is a solidly built athlete (6-2, 228) who played in all 13 games last season, but was mostly counted on to run the Wildcat formation. Passing, he was 5-for-12 for 34 yards in 13 games, and he tossed two interceptions with no touchdowns. Running the ball is a different matter altogether - he rushed for 327 yards on 76 attempts and three touchdowns. His long run of the season was 22 yards against South Carolina, a game that Auburn won. He had a career game against the Virginia Cavaliers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl when he rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns. During his senior season in high school Frazier passed for 2,975 yards and 42 touchdowns while rushing for 1,164 yards and 22 touchdowns, so the talent is there to be effective in both facets of the game. However, if you are Clemson, the threat of Frazier on the ground is what has to be most worrisome. If Auburn can establish a running game with senior Onterio McCalebb and Frazier, they can control the clock and use play-action passing to keep the Clemson defense honest. Best-case scenario is the Clemson defense stops the running game and forces Frazier to the air, especially with a rebuilt and inexperienced offensive line.


Clemson’s offensive line is much like Auburn’s – inexperienced at some key spots. However, Clemson’s defensive line also has inexperience, so perhaps the biggest gap on the field might be between Clemson’s offensive line and Auburn’s talented defensive line. The first key to the game – turnovers – might hinge on how well Clemson can protect Boyd and open holes for Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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. The Pistol formation should help – keeping Auburn guessing about the direction of a play – but defensive end Corey Lemonier tallied 13.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last season and the junior only figures to be better this season. Junior Nosa Eguae will start at the other end, and he had 38 tackles, including six for loss, and recorded 12 quarterback hurries in 2011. The tackles will be some combination of Jeffrey Whitaker. Kenneth Carter, and Gabe Wright, so this will be the best line Clemson will face in the early part of the season, other than Florida St. New defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has promised to blitz more this season – perhaps to help a less-than-stellar back seven – and how well Clemson handles the pressure off the edges might very well determine the outcome of the game.

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