Sunday, September 19, 2010

Clemson Review (AU 27 Clemson 24 OT)

This was an outstanding play by Demond Washington and an unfortunate anticipation pass interference call by the referee. That call kept Clemson alive after momentum had swung to Auburn.

Great win against a hungry Clemson team eager to prove its worth and playing for the pride of its beleaguered conference. Clemson looks to be the class of the ACC and gave Auburn more than I personally thought they could. I knew with the Alabama influence of its coaching staff these guys would have their team chomping at the bit to win in Auburn. What surprised me was the physicality Clemson played with. Regardless, what matters is we survived and advance with another win and move on to play the Palmetto state's best football team with even more on the line.


-Darvin Adams continues to impress and is as confident and skillful a WR Auburn has had perhaps ever.

-Resiliency...coming out of the locker room down two touchdowns and absolutely exploding in the third quarter was a sight to behold. Credit to the coaches for halftime adjustments, but really to the leadership on this team for not allowing their teammates to quit. Overcoming a 17-0 deficit and scoring 24 unanswered speaks to this teams character and bodes well for them in the immediate future. Should they fall behind in the weeks to come, this game will pay enormous dividends in the psyche of this relatively young team.

-Athleticism of Newton. He made a few throws he'd like to take back, but my confidence with him leading the offense is sky high. He'll only improve and gain more confidence with each passing week and I would personally not look forward to competing against him.

-Wes Byrum! Smooth as silk! Money!

-The crowd noise. Wasn't there but it looked to be a raucous atmosphere and played beautifully on ESPN. Not a big fan of the blue shakers though.


-Allowing Clemson to take the opening kickoff and march it 80 yards down our throats. We did not come out flat...we just got whipped at the line of scrimmage and couldn't get off the field on third downs. Of course, Clemson has probably been preparing for Auburn for 3 weeks and I'm sure added wrinkles we'd never seen. Even so, third down has to create an urgency to get off the field and we just couldn't do it. That was disappointing.

-Newton's inability or unwillingness to check down to an intermediate or dump off back/receiver. He has an all or none mentality which put us in some difficult third and long situations and/or put the defense back on the field quickly. We have to be able to sustain some drives by dumping the ball off on occasion. I love the big plays, but pick and choose your opportunities wisely...when it's not there, 5 yard gainers will move the sticks and keep that defense happy sipping Gatorade.

-Third week in a row we bring a first down inside the 15 back because of a holding penalty. Untimely penalties are becoming the norm.

-Offensive line was man-handled in the first half. This group should be dominating defensive fronts, but for whatever reason it's not happening. The loss of Greene doesn't make things any easier either.

-Too many busted coverages by our safeties, Etheredge particularly. I know he will improve weekly but he got caught several times out of position, including the unbelievable diving TD grab just before half he was fooled on.

-Punt return yards. Love that we fielded every punt cleanly. Wish we flipped the field on occasion to give the offense a short field to work with.

-Too much East/West running with tailbacks. Doesn't work so well when you play equally talented opposition. How many first and 10s became second and 16 because of lateral plays diagnosed defensively by Clemson.

Like I said last week, by tomorrow, no one remembers the score of this one...only that Auburn has 3 W's and 0 L's. We do have a long way to go however. We've got to be tougher defending the run and less apt to break down in pass coverage. We've got to be more dominant with our senior-laden offensive line and win the war running the football. We've got to develop a downhill running attack with Mike Dyer and limit the sideways stuff. We've got to stop killing drives with self-inflicted mistakes (inopportune penalties, INTs, etc.). We've got to come out the gate swinging for the chin of the opponent to begin each half of play. We've got to understand the importance of getting off the football field on third down defensively and develop a sense of urgency in those situations. Lots to work on. Another huge challenge awaits.


  1. Good read, that illegal snap penalty that Clemson got saved another OT. I was pleased to see it on the replay, an offsides call at that point would have probably caused Auburn to loose the game.

    I have read several articles that said it was a "bizarre" call. Nothing bizarre about it, you don't take the ball of the ground like that and not put it in play.

  2. Great insight, thanks Rob. Would like to see more consistent play calling and blocking (by "play calling" I mean more north and south from Dyer). I think we really missed Fannin's receiving ability out of the back field, he appears to be Newton's go to check down receiver. With all that said hats off to Clemson they were extremely athletic and have a HUGE defensive line. I think we actually match up better defensively with SC than we did with Clemson. War Eagle!

  3. Thanks for the read Roger and I agree with you Adam. I think Fannin is a vital part to the offense as a whole and not having him was definitely problematic. He just can't take the pounding that comes with life as tailback though and he'll be moved to slot/H-back to limit the impact on the shoulder. A healthy Trovon Reed would be nice, and if we'd quit holding every time Newton breaks a long one we'd be getting somewhere.

  4. Rob, why can't the DB's adjust to the "bubble screen" and why do they play so far off the receivers? Is it not wanting to give up the "big play"?. What's your take since you played the position? And I might add very well, too!

  5. I too enjoy your game previews and reviews. It is a great insight and breakdown on what a former player sees going on during a game. War Eagle!

  6. jim...I the bubble screen is just a difficult play to defend unless you're playing a zone defense and where the play-side corner has the flat and reads the play quickly. Even then, that corner would have to beat a block to make the play. You must have tremendous inside out pursuit from the playside DE, LB, and safety to help contain the play. As far as playing off of receivers, that doesn't bother me. It's not playing off of a receiver that causes the problems, it's not making a play on the ball. Washington is pretty good at playing the ball in the air. Thorpe is not very good at all it. Safety wise, Savage plays the ball much better than Etheredge, and McNeil I'm not sure about. Pressing a man requires more energy and can wear you down as the game progresses, especially if your pass rush is nonexistent. You've got to mix it up, be able to do both, and be able to disguise what your intentions are (zone vs man).

  7. Do you think CN has just not learned the offense? or my expectations are just to high. Seems if Chris Todd had Newton's athleticisim or Cam could see the field like Todd we would be pretty explosive on offense. Really don't know, just ramblin. Love this blog !

  8. I really think Cam's biggest problem is things have always come so easily for him and started that way in his debut. He saw what an enormous splash he made with big play after big play and I feel like his mindset is to score on every play. I like that and I hate that about him. I believe he's beginning to realize he's not gonna score on every pass attempt or every rush. It's baby steps with him but in the end, I still love seeing him back there.