By Heath Bradley.
Dalton Freeman was a member of the last team to play a game in the Georgia Dome. The Tigers opened the 2008 season versus Alabama, their top 10 ranking was quickly gone after an Alabama win and serious changes were in store for Clemson later in the year. Dalton Freeman, who was redshirting the 2008 season, traveled to that game and said it is not one that he has fond memories of.
“Not a lot of good ones. I remember thinking it was a good year to be redshirted after seeing Terrance Cody run out of the tunnel. It was a humbling night for us,” said Freeman.
While the Tigers are not facing Alabama, they are facing their in state rival Auburn, and according to Freeman, this Clemson team is nothing like that team in 2008.
“A lot of things have changed. Coach Swinney has changed the foundation and I do not think it is fair to compare this team to that team at all,” said Freeman.
Freeman and his offensive line will get an early season test from the Auburn defensive line, thought by many as one of the best in the country. When asked what sets Auburn’s line apart, Freeman was quick to point out there size.
“They are a good bit bigger than most of the teams we face. I do not know if it is the typical SEC body that everyone talks about or what. They are very large up front, I think they are averaging 6 foot 4 and 305 pounds,” said Freeman.
Freeman is excited for the challenge the talented and experienced Auburn defensive line will bring.
“They were all sophomores last year, so they have a lot of experience coming back and they have all played a lot of ball. I think it is a good challenge for us,” said Freeman.
Freeman knows that the result of this game can go a long way for the psyche of a football team, just as it has in 2010 and 2011.
“Last year was really the game that kind of slingshot our season. We started playing great football and went 8 and 0. I think it is a big game, especially with it being the opener. There is nothing more important than winning the opener,” said Freeman.
The opportunity for Freeman and this 2012 Clemson team to make a statement to the nation will come on Saturday night. The defending ACC Champions will take the field on national television against an SEC opponent with the chance to defend their top-15 ranking and start the season off with a win. According to Freeman, this seems like the perfect start to a final season as a Tiger. A chance that Freeman and his teammates are excited about.
“It is great opportunity for us, we are very excited about it. I cannot think of a better way to start the year than going 1 and 0. Especially against a big time program like Auburn. We are very excited about it,” said Freeman.