Brent Venables looked a little confused on Tuesday when a reporter asked him his thoughts on how different Auburn looks on offense compared to last season.
“How so,” the Clemson defensive coordinator asked.
Auburn has a new quarterback in Jarrett Stidham and a new guy calling the plays in offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey.
“From that standpoint, yeah,” Venables said. “The quarterback throws the ball very well. They do a good job. They can spread you out and pound you and they can spread you out a throw the ball vertically. They have excellent skill at receiver, at running back and at tight end.”
Auburn (1-0) pounded Georgia Southern in its first game. It ran for 351 yards on 53 carries, while Stidham threw for 185 yards on 14 of 24 passing, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran nine times for 17 yards and a touchdown.
“It is a very physical and spread attack,” Venables said. “They can get big on you, too. They do a great job with how they game plan and again how they recruited. We have a great challenge in front of us.”
It’s not like Clemson isn’t up for the challenge. The Tigers did limit Kent State to 120 total yards in its win last Saturday. Also, the Tigers held Auburn’s powerful rushing game to 87 yards in last year’s season opener, the lowest total for the SEC’s Tigers all year. They led the SEC in rushing at 271.3 yards per game in 2016.
But that was last year as Clemson loaded up on the line of scrimmage and dared Auburn to beat them in the passing game. Auburn threw for just 175 yards on 15-of-30 passes while throwing two interceptions.
But Stidhim is a different quarterback. Last year, Auburn played three different quarterbacks against his Tigers, while also throwing in a little Wing-T action in front of them. There will not be any of that on Saturday. At least that is how Clemson is seeing it.
“(Stidham) can throw the ball very well,” Venables said. “He’s accurate throwing the ball. He has great velocity. He has good arm strength. He can run. He can improvise. He keeps his eyes down the field. He has good instincts. He has good pocket awareness. He is a winner. He is competitive. He is intelligent. All of those things.”
In other words, Auburn is different and will be a big challenge for Clemson’s defense.
“Coach Lindsey’s background is in the state of Alabama and was at Auburn,” Venables said. “He has branched out and has had great success at Southern Miss and at Arizona State so why wouldn’t you do those same types of things schemes wise, formation and all of those things.
“His foundation looks to have an Auburn flavor, but he has put his own spin on it as well.”
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