Though Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney was pleased with how his team played overall in the second-ranked Tigers’ win over Auburn on Saturday, there were a few positions the head coach will like to see get better before they take on No. 14 Louisville next Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
Overall, Clemson did not play well at right tackle or at the running back position. The Tigers rushed for just 99 yards against Auburn with no running back gaining more than 17 yards. Adam Choice, C.J. Fuller and Tavien Feaster combined to carry the football just 14 times.
Fuller, who started the game, had four carries and did not come back in the game after fumbling and losing the ball in the third quarter, which ended a possible scoring drive for the Tigers.
“That was a critical fumble,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said on his Sunday teleconference call with the media. “There’s not enough separation with our backs. We have to take care of the football. We are in the same place that we have been.
“We got three guys that we trust as starter-type guys and then we have a young guy that is getting better every day and is going to have his opportunities as we keep moving forward here.”
That young guy is Travis Etienne who did not play against Auburn. Swinney really would not elaborate if Etienne or Feaster will get more playing time against Louisville. Feaster had just three carries against Auburn, but averaged 5.0 yards per carry.
“I think a lot of it … we only got sixty-something snaps, and that is not the norm for us,” Swinney said. “We never really got into a rhythm of our offense, six plays in the first quarter and 11 minutes in the whole first half. Sixty-six plays, so it has been a long time since we had that few of plays.
“We are an offense that wants to snap it at least 85 plus times so we did not get anywhere near the rhythm, the flow, the balance, the amount of touches for all the guys we like to get, but sometimes this game dictates different things, styles of play and how you play. I think, again, we will do a little better job in some areas and all those guys will get plenty of opportunities to showcase what they can do.”
Right tackle continues to be a head scratcher for Swinney and his coaching staff. Both Tremayne Anchrum, who started the game, and Sean Pollard struggled to block Auburn defensive end Jeff Holland. The 6-foot-2, 249-pound end was in the Clemson backfield all night, as he helped with one of Auburn’s three sacks while recording four tackles overall. He also knocked down a pass and had a quarterback hurry.
“Well, we did not play well. That’s for sure,” Swinney said. “That was a disappointment last night. We did not play well at right tackle and we are much better than how we played.
“I give them some credit. They are really good, but we have played better. We practiced against good players too, every day, so we just did not play to the standard. We did do some good things, but when you make a couple of mistakes, that is what stands out to everybody and people don’t see the good stuff that happens and there was some really good things. It was definitely not a bright spot for us last night.”
Injury updates. Tests on cornerback Marcus Edmond’s injured foot look well, according to Swinney.
Edmond injured his foot on the sixth play of Saturday’s game in Death Valley. Swinney said they will know more on Monday, but the X-rays he took on Sunday “we’re good.”
As for free safety Van Smith, Swinney said he did not play on his injured knee because the training staff was not confident he could do what they needed him to do.
“He is getting better,” Swinney said. “He improved a lot last week. We just weren’t quite confident he could do what we needed him to do. I saw him this morning and he was taking treatment. He is getting better.”