AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn remembers Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence and the problems the eventual ACC defensive rookie of the year presented for Auburn last year.
And the Auburn coach hasn’t forgotten a few of Lawrence’s friends, either.
“I mean they’ve got their defensive front, like I said it’s one of the top in the country,” Malzahn said. “And when you turn on the film it doesn’t take long to figure that out. So, you know it’ll be a big test for our guys up front. You know, we’re going to have to not only run the football, but protect the quarterback, so that’ll be a big key to the game I feel like.”
While Malzahn was pleased overall with Auburn’s offensive performance against Georgia Southern, he saw “some communication that we got to get cleaned up” in regards to his offensive line.
Negative plays were a problem for Auburn in a 19-13 loss to Clemson last year. To turn the tables on the defending national champions this season will require a difference in the trenches.
“They got after us pretty good on first down and put us in some negative situations,” Malzahn said. “And we can’t have that this week.”
Fixing the miscommunication doesn’t seem problematic for Malzahn or a couple of his star linemen. Senior guard Braden Smith was pleased with his group’s performance, especially for a first game.
And that doesn’t take in to account tackle Prince Tega Wanogho and guard Mike Horton making their first starts.
“Of course, we’ve got some new guys in,” Smith said. “It takes some adjusting, of course. The first-ever start, it’s going to be a little different. But I think once they started to get a feel for it, they started meshing together really well and executing.”
Smith and the rest of Herb Hand’s offensive line is aware of how talented Clemson has been historically.
“I mean, you just go back. Every year, they’ve always been stacked,” Smith said. “They’re stacked this year. They’re physical, they’re athletic. They’ve got a lot of great players there. They won a national championship last year and part of that was their defensive line.”
Then there’s the additional challenge of taking on Dabo Swinney’s defensive line in Memorial Stadium. Death Valley, after all, isn’t the most peaceful place on game days.
Auburn is preparing for Saturday by mimicking the noise with incessant speakers during practice. And if Auburn’s offensive line can get that aspect down, it could mean a happier ending heading into Week 3.
“I mean, it’s a very big game,” Smith said. “Top teams going against each other. It’s one of the best defensive fronts we go up against all year. It’s just a big game. Of course, we want to win that game. We want to win every game. Every game’s a big game.”
The post Auburn’s offensive line has fall cleanup to do if it wants to defeat No. 3 Clemson appeared first on SEC Country.
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