We’re just under a month away from the opening game against Clemson, but we’ve already spoken to the folks over at Shakin’ The Southland for some early thoughts on the game! We’ll do another one with them during game week, too, since we’ll know a lot more about the teams, then.
Thankfully, I didn’t mention hoping Jovon Robinson has a big game against Clemson in my answers. Because, well, I would have to go back and change that answer, now, if I had.
Here are my questions and answers for Ryan Kantor and his answers.
1) How do you think Clemson is preparing for an Auburn offense with so many questions? I know Gus Malzahn wants to name a starter early in Fall Camp, but that doesn't mean he's going to announce it then. Does the prospect of preparing for two completely different types of styles for the opening game in a hostile environment worry you at all?
In defenses past (ironically back when we had Kevin Steele), I'd be terrified by the possibility of facing a speedy QB like Franklin. Brent Venables however has done a better job with linebackers and was been able to stop running QBs, most notably the GT option attack. While it can be frustrating to not know exactly what you're facing, we had a similar situation going to Louisville and the defense won the game for us in one of Watson's lesser performances.
2) Clemson has to replace a lot on defense. I know Dabo & Company have been excellent recruiters and replaced those lost with more talent and depth, but how do you see them reacting in Game 1?
Last year the defense was excellent early while the offense took a while to pick up steam. This year could be the opposite. New defensive ends may allow opportunities for offenses to attack with read option, but I like Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell filling in those roles.
I'm happy with Van Smith and Jadar Johnson taking over at safety as well. While TJ Green and Jayron Kearse were super athletes, they were bust-prone and the first job of a safety is to be the safety valve preventing big plays.
Where we see a big drop off is CB. Lockdown corner Mac Alexander has gone to the Vikings and his replacement is still unknown. CB Cordrea Tankersley is excellent, but we'll see if offenses pick on the opposite CB.
3) Deshaun Watson is an obvious early Heisman candidate. Can y'all just, you know, forget to bring him?
Did you hear he added muscle, didn't lose any speed, and isn't wear a knee brace anymore? The horror!
Clemson QB Deshaun Watson did not skip leg day this offseason. pic.twitter.com/kcxJqlJx7y— Aaron Brenner (@Aaron_Brenner) August 2, 2016
4) How do you see Clemson attacking Auburn's defense in this one? Auburn will have its deepest and most talented DL and DBs since probably the Tuberville era, but the linebackers are a big question.
Clemson's co-OCs are willing to take what you give them. Our offensive line should be improved and we finally have dedicated ourselves to establishing a running game more than we did in years past. Expect to see a balanced attack that utilizes our depth in RB and WR. If you're weak in LB coverage, Jordan Leggett at TE could be a primary target as well.
5) Are y'all as tired of playing us as we are of y'all? Don't get me wrong, there's great history there, but we've played so much in recent years we might as well be in the same conference. We've played y'all more in the last 10 years than we've played Florida who is in our own conference.
Yes! I have loads of respect for Auburn, but I was not at all excited about playing Auburn when it was announced and it is one of the two road games I do not have any plans to attend.
I was there in 2010. It was very nice. Fans were extremely respectful. I had a good experience (aside from one pudgy 10-year old girl who jumped in my friend's face and screamed "War Damn Eagle," but even that makes for a good story).
I would love to play Texas A&M (who we play after this home and home). I love playing UGA (they're much more of a legitimate Clemson rival). I'd even love to mix it up and play Tennessee, Florida, Baylor, or Texas. Now that it is less than a month away, I'm excited and looking forward to it, but we absolutely share your sentiment.