The only real question is can they do it against the defending national champions and a 17-game winning streak.
Former Florida head Coach Urban Meyer was on hand for Clemson’s final practice before taking on Auburn Saturday in Death Valley and he said that all of the pieces were in place for the Tigers [of Clemson] to breakout.
“They have the talent and the coaches, and it’s gonna be a breakout game one of these days,” Meyer said. “The pieces are in place. One of these days you will wake up and have one of the most powerful offenses in the country.”
A 12 o’clock showdown is looming in the valley between the Tigers, so let’s see how Auburn and Clemson matchup.
The Auburn offense began the 2011 season trying to replace a do-everything player in Cam Newton. There is plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, but it will take an army to replace Newton. Quarterback Barrett Trotter is leading the Auburn offense this year. He is 33-for-46 for 407 yards through the first two games. He has thrown for five touchdowns and one interception. How will Trotter, who has only started two games, handle the hostile Death Valley and being on the road for the first time in his career? While Trotter has had a fair amount of success this year throwing the ball, the orange and blue Tigers will try to account for most of their yards on the ground- by way of sophomore Michael Dyer and junior Onterio McCallebb. Dyer has rushed for 207 yards on 32 carries and four touchdowns. McCallebb has added 112 yards on the ground. Both are averaging well above five yards per carry. On the receiving end, look for big tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen who was a favorite target of Cam Newton in 2010. Lutzenkirchen has already caught two touchdown passes this year. The key for the Clemson defense will be stopping the run. The defensive line and linebackers will once again have to play with their eyes and stay in position. It will be crucial to have a healthy Rashard Hall back at safety as he is one of the leaders on the Clemson defense. ADVANTAGE- AUBURN
CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. AUBURN DEFENSE
Through the first two games, the Clemson offense has gotten off to a slow start, but with better play from the offensive line, they usually pick up the pace in the second half. That slow start can’t happen this weekend or Clemson may be playing from a hole that they can’t recover from. Tajh Boyd continued to improve last week against Wofford according to coaches. He needs to continue protecting the ball and not give the Auburn offense any extra opportunities. The key for Clemson will be the rushing attack. Andre Ellington could have another game like he did in 2010 against Auburn rushing for 140 yards on 22 carries. The Auburn defense ranks 118th against the run giving Ellington and freshman Mike Bellamy the opportunity to take some of the pressure off of Boyd. Auburn lost eight starters including first-round draft pick Nick Fairley. Auburn will look to linebacker Eltoro Freeman (5-11, 224) and defensive end Nosa Eguae (6-2, 255) will try to stop the run and cause Boyd problems in the passing game. ADVANTAGE- CLEMSON
Clemson has had many problems on special teams- a missed extra point, two missed field goals, a botched snap on a field goal attempt, and a botched fake field goal. They will have to get those problems fixed in order to win what should be a close game heading into the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Auburn, on the other hand, lost their all-time leading scorer in kicker Wes Byrum. Sophomore Codey Parkey will take over kicking duties and is perfect on the year on extra points and field goals. ADVANTAGE- EVEN
BOTTOM LINE - 2011 will probably be a lot like 2010- a field goal in the final seconds or an overtime drive will win the game. The key to this game will be defense. Both offenses will move the ball and most likely score some points. The team that wins will stop their opponent on that always crucial third-and-two or fourth-and-one. Defense is the name of the game.
FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON-24, AUBURN-28
Post written by Clemson Girl's sports blogger Nikki Steele.