Dabo Swinney was already in game day mode on Tuesday.
During his weekly press conference with the media, the Clemson head coach kept things short and to the point as he and his 5th-ranked Tigers get set to take on No. 12 Auburn at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Death Valley.
“I’m really looking forward to a night game in the Valley,” Swinney said. “I know we will have a great crowd and it will be a lot of fun to get out there under the lights and play this one at home.”
Last year, Clemson survived an unranked Auburn team on the Plains, 19-13, as safety Jadar Johnson batted down back-to-back Hail Marys on the last two plays of the game. But Swinney warns that this year’s Auburn team is even better.
The SEC’s Tigers are coming off a 41-7 win over Georgia Southern in the opener last Saturday. They held the Eagles to 78 total yards, while piling up more than 500 yards overall.
“This is a really good football team,” Swinney said. “They are a complete football. 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.
“They were one of the toughest teams we played all year.”
And that should be the case this year. Despite losing two starters on the defensive front in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, the Tigers are loaded on defense, especially up front where Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott say they are just as talent and deep as last year.
“This is a very good defense,” Swinney said. “They finished seventh in the country in scoring. A bunch of those guys are back. It is a very deep defensive line that is very long and athletic. They have a bunch of physical guys up front.
“Again, this is a very experienced group. They understand their scheme. They play hard. They are well coached. Looking at last year, it was a very competitive game and I expect the same this year.”
Auburn is also better on offense, where running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson both return after combining for more than 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground a year ago. Also, they have a new offensive coordinator in Chip Lindsey and a new quarterback in Baylor transfer Jarrett Stidham, which gives them a much better passing game than the year before.
“This is a really, really good football team, and now they have a quarterback that has a lot of confidence, good experience, poise and understands what they are doing so this is a big challenge for us and one we are looking forward to,” Swinney said. “Looking at what they do offensively, they had some big plays last week. They showed their strength in the physical run game. They ran a lot of wildcat, zone-read, counters and powers, loaded schemes, jet sweeps, 21-personnel (2 running backs and 1 tight end). They had a great back, who made some big plays in the game.”