AUBURN, Ala. — Clemson defeated Auburn 19-13 at Jordan-Hare stadium to kick off the 2016 football season on Saturday. The game came down to Clemson’s defense batting down the ball in the end zone as the time on the clock expired to prevent the Tigers of the SEC from upsetting No. 2 Clemson.
Here is what we heard following the Tigers’ victory at Auburn.
“Proud of our team. The goal is to find a way to win the opener and get to 1-0, and our guys were able to do that. I was just telling the team, I’ve been to Auburn a bunch in my day and haven’t left here a winner very often, so I’m proud of our team for finding a way to beat a very good opponent,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said afterwards.
Clemson has not won at Auburn since 1950, and Swinney said he was expecting a tough challenge from a stadium atmosphere that is known for having crazy things happen.
“A lot of craziness in that game. A lot of crazy situations, some we created ourselves, and some they created,” Swinney said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to learn from it and get better.”
Wide receiver Mike Williams got the ball rolling for the Tigers on offense as he ended the night with 174 yards in nine catches.
“It’s great to have Mike back,” co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “I’m very happy for him. It’s been a long time since he’s played football.”
Williams had expectations for the way that he would perform in his first game back, so he was glad he finally got to show the world the hard work he put in throughout his recovery.
“I always felt like I was back the first day I came back,” Williams said. “I just needed to get in a game and show everybody else that I’m back.”
Although Williams performed well, it was the defense that won the game for Clemson, and defensive coordinator Brent Venables liked the way his unit competed.
“I was confident, and I thought we had a pretty good plan, and also I liked how our guys had been working, their focus, their attitude, their willingness to be coached and again how hard they worked,” Venables said. “That gives you confidence as a coach. I knew there was going to be plenty of things we did not do right, well or coach well, but I felt like, ‘Hey man! It is going to be their first game, too.”
Auburn’s offense did a lot of unique things to try to trip up Clemson’s defense, and Venables was glad he did thorough research on how to stop the wing-T offense. He prepared his unit for the various tricks Auburn would try, and they held the Tigers to 87 rushing yards and 262 total yards on the night.
“I pulled up some defensive coordinators, Googled ‘How to stop the wing-T?’ I found a guy that defended it like I wanted to do it and then I just kind of took a few things from him and told our guys, ‘Look I don’t know if they are going to do it,’” Venables said. “Somebody said they might be trying to do it so we literally were watching Apopka (High School, Fla.) and watching Rick Darlington (teach) a clinic up on YouTube the night before last.”
Photo Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports