What is Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney saying about Auburn?
Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney (Photo: Clemson Athletics/Justin Pondexter)
The Head Coach of the defending national champion is set for a huge match-up this Saturday, as the #13 Auburn Tigers come to town. Dabo Swinney spoke with the media Tuesday, addressing his thoughts about this week's opponent, as well as how his team performed in week one against Kent State.
Swinney opened by saying that Auburn will be a big challenge this week. Last season, Auburn infamously rotated three quarterbacks, showing signs of not having off-season kinks worked out. Swinney says that Auburn is a complete team this season.
“This year, they’ve got a bunch of guys back who have a lot of experience. They’ve got a lot of starters on all sides, a great kicker. They’re a really, really good football team. And now, they’ve got a quarterback that’s got a lot of confidence, experience and poise, and he understands what they’re doing. They’re going to be a big challenge for us, but it’s one we’re looking forward to."
When it comes to matching up with the Auburn offense, Swinney says that the core is running back Kamryn Pettway.
"He’s a big, strong, physical guy. So that’s where it starts…being able to match up from a physical standpoint against a really strong football team, and win those matchups when the ball goes in the air, because they’ve got a quarterback in Jarrett Stidham that definitely can make plays for them. They’re very skilled outside and very good and experienced up front. Again, they had an explosive offense in this first game. It’s a big challenge there."
Not only does Swinney have to battle an improved offense, but also has to prepare for a defense that held them to a season-low 19 points and 399 total yards last season. A majority of that unit returns for 2017.
"They were very good last year, and they finished seventh in the country in scoring defense. They’ve got a bunch of those guys back. They’re very deep in the defensive line, with long, athletic and physical guys up front. They’ve also got a bunch of guys back in the secondary."
How are Clemson and Auburn alike?:
Tigers, land-grant institutions, John Heisman... you get the idea. Auburn and Clemson are very similar. Former Atlanta-Journal Constitution columnist Lewis Grizzard also said that "Clemson is Auburn, with a lake."
While there are many similarities between the institutions, Swinney feels that fans will see even more on Saturday evening in Death Valley.
"We both want to run the football at the core. That’s clear in their presentation and what they do, and it’s what we want to do. We want to run the ball. We’ve probably thrown the ball a little more over the years than they have, but at the end of the day, we both want to attack the perimeter, we want to attack downfield and we want to have a physical run game from a spread-type set. Defensively, we’re both very aggressive. We apply pressure and believe in building the team from the inside-out with guys in the trenches. We recruit a lot of the same players. We’ve definitely got a lot of respect for them because they’re a great program."
Last Season's Game Preparing Clemson for the Future:
Swinney was not pleased with Clemson's performance last season against Auburn to open the 2016 season. He commended Auburn for taking advantage of several mistakes, and said that winning the season opening game gave them the confidence needed to win tougher games as the season went along.
"At the end of the day, every week is a challenge. Every week is a season of its own. That’s how we look at it. We don’t make it any less or any more than that. We just go and put everything we’ve got into getting ready for that team, go put our best foot forward and grow from there."
Playing Auburn in Week Two, as opposed to Week One:
Last season, these two battled to open the season at Jordan-Hare Stadium. This season, both teams had the luxury of having a game under their belt before going at it again. Swinney mentioned during the press conference that he was not pleased with his team's performance against Auburn last season, and feels that having an extra week will help in multiple aspects.
"The fact that we were able to go play, and we played well. We gained confidence from that. We got a lot of guys their first experience, and that’s something that they can definitely build on this week. It’s good to get some tape against an opponent where we can really coach and talk about some things that maybe other people didn’t see…technical things and fundamental things that we need to clean up as we move forward into a much bigger challenge facing Auburn."