After Clemson dominated Kent State last Saturday, the Tigers moved up to No. 3 in the Amway Coaches Poll heading into Saturday’s matchup against 13th-ranked Auburn.
During Clemson’s weekly Tuesday press conference, the media spoke to head coach Dabo Swinney, running back C.J. Fuller, defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and linebacker Dorian O’Daniel. The team previewed the upcoming game against the opposing Tigers.
Here is what we heard:
It was a close game last year against unranked Auburn, but Clemson survived the battle 19-13. Dabo Swinney said that Auburn was one of the toughest teams the Tigers played all year, and they are stronger than ever this year.
“This is a really good football team,” Swinney said. “They are a complete football team. Looking at them at this time last year, they were trying to figure out what they were going to do at quarterback. It took them a little while to get settled in and ended up having a heck of a year.”
Auburn’s talent runs deep in the trenches, where the Tigers return all but two starters in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams. And as a whole, the defense finished seventh in the country in scoring defense last season.
However, Fuller is confident he is best prepared to face any defense by his own.
“We go against a great defense every day at practice so I don’t feel like we’ll be too overwhelmed,” Fuller said. “Auburn has a great defense. I watched a few games, a little bit of last year, and the game they played this past Saturday. They look good. They’re very athletic. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
Looking back at Saturday’s game against Kent State, the Golden Flashes only attempted five passes throughout the game. To Venables, more passes would’ve meant more learning opportunities for his young secondary. However, those learning opportunities came throughout the off-season as Clemson’s offense continuously put the defense to the test.
“We’ll find out a few things in that regard,” Venables said. “Our offense has prepared us through spring and summer and fall camp. We’ve been practicing a long time between all these different periods, so I think our guys got a decent understanding of where they need to be. But we’ll be challenged in all kinds of different ways.”
O’Daniel sees Auburn’s offense presenting some challenges to Clemson’s defense, but challenges have been the foundation to molding the Clemson football program into what it is today.
“They have definitely made some strides,” O’Daniel said. “They got a new quarterback. He is very good. He can throw the ball and he can run so you have to respect him on his feet and in the passing game. He presents a good challenge. That’s what football is about and that’s why we came to Clemson. We came here to compete at the highest level and I am looking forward to doing that on Saturday night.”
Clemson is set to face Auburn on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Death Valley.