The #13 ranked Auburn Tigers lost a tough one against Clemson on Saturday night. A lot of things went wrong, however, let me tell you Auburn fans why it’s way too soon to panic.
To begin, Auburn’s defense was spectacular in the loss to Clemson. They gave up just 14 points to the reigning national champions and kept Jarrett Stidham and the offense in the game the whole night. It all started with arguably Auburn’s best defensive player: cornerback Carlton Davis. The junior was all over the field and the proof is in the stats, Davis racked up 11 tackles against Clemson. It seemed like if you were in his path, he was going to take you down, no questions asked. He also limited one of the nation’s top wide outs (Deon Cain) to just 2 catches for 27 yards. Linebacker Jeff Holland was a problem for that Clemson offensive line as he was applying pressure on more plays than not. Add Tray Matthews to the list of guys that impressed me on Saturday night, he added 5 tackles. It was a great overall performance from top to bottom by this defense. Every time it looked like the momentum was in Clemson’s favor and the Auburn defense was going to fold, they showed they were up for the task and made a stop.
Now, I’m sure this is the area of concern for every single Auburn fan out there: the offense. Is Clemson’s defense one of the best defenses in the country? Absolutely. Did we have doubts about Auburn’s offense this early in the season? Of course. Is having 117 total offensive yards acceptable? Absolutely not. Heading into this game, I was terrified of that Clemson defensive line and they proved exactly why. In my opinion, there isn’t a better defensive line in the country, and yes, that means I believe they’re better than Alabama too. Clemson had 11 sacks on the night, yeah, you’re reading that right...11 sacks! One of my keys to victory for Auburn heading into the game was the offensive line containing Clemson’s front 7. I wasn’t sure if they’d be ready to face a dominate defensive front like Clemson’s and they definitely were not. It also didn’t help that the wide receivers could not get open at all. Ryan Davis led all Auburn wide receivers with 32 yards on 8 catches. I expected a lot more from Kyle Davis. He’s far and away the most talented wide receiver, it’s inexcusable for him to have just one catch for 7 yards.
Despite all of this, it’s very pre-mature to panic right now. Auburn struggled, but let’s not forget, they went on the road against the #3 ranked reigning champions of college football and lost a one possession game. It’s obvious where the Tigers have to improve, so now it’s just a matter of working towards getting better. The defense needs to continue to do what they’re doing, they have that swagger that every top defense needs and there is no doubt in my mind that they are a top 10 defense in the country at the moment.
This loss to Clemson is now in the past. The top tier teams in the country don’t dwell on losses, instead, they play with a chip on their shoulder and come back stronger. Like they say, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Auburn takes on unranked Mercer at home next Saturday. It should be interesting to see how they respond in a game where they will be heavily favored.