One of the features that we want to incorporate into our weekly game previews is a Q&A with our opponent's site. Now that we are getting into the meat of our schedule, and with the Auburn game only a few days away, we reached out to our sister site Track Em Tigers to get the inside scoop on Auburn. Feel free to head over there and pick up the latest info on our foe.
Now on to the questions...
STS: I saw most of the Utah State game, but missed the Mississippi State game. What was the difference between week 1 and week 2?
That's a tough question. When you look at the stats, they appear very similar to the Utah State game. Leading up to game day, Gene Chizik preached on being more physical. That was the biggest difference. Both offensively and defensively, Auburn played old fashion hard nose football. While the defensive line is far from where it needs to be, they made tremendous strides despite what the stat book shows. Offensively, the blocking up front was like night and day from week one to last week. The line opened up holes and Auburn's backs took advantage of it.
STS: What should we expect out of Barrett Trotter? Are his legs a threat at all?
Nobody will confuse Trotter with Cam Newton. He's certainly more of a pocket passer. However, his speed can be deceptive. He won't hesitate to tuck it and run on third-and-10. That said, he's probably not going to be a threat to reel off a 40 yard gain. Trotter's biggest plus is his accuracy. He just knows the Gus Malzahn offense and it shows. He's very comfortable making changes at the line of scrimmage. Most Auburn people will tell you he's way better than most expected at this point in the season.
STS: The key matchup in the game may be Auburn's O-line versus Clemson's D-line. How has the O-line looked so far, considering the unit looks almost entirely different from last year?
Auburn's offensive line could not have looked worse in week one. They were facing a Utah State defensive that was widely considered to be terrible. If you saw the highlights you know the Aggies had their way with Auburn. Last week was a major improvement. Truthfully, I didn't believe they had it in them. Miss State is very physical, but Auburn's O-line was more so. It opened up a lot of running room for Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb. This week is an even bigger test with Clemson's D-Line. I agree, the game will likely be decided by these two units.
STS: On the flip side, Clemson's O-line has looked soft against inferior competition. But, Auburn no longer has stud DT Nick Fairley. How has the interior of your defense looked so far?
Auburn knew they would have their hands full against Utah State's offensive line. They played five seniors against a group of primarily freshmen and sophomores. While Auburn's unit is far more talented, experience trumped talent most of the day. With Nick Fairley gone, Auburn's defensive line is nothing compared to a year ago. Keep an eye on Jeffrey Whitaker, Dee Ford and Corey Lemonier. They are extremely talented, but still young. If they get going Saturday, Auburn will have a chance.
STS: How do you see this game playing out?
This game is a huge question mark. Auburn is very young on both sides of the ball. Many of these guys will be making their first road start in one of the great stadiums in all of college football. Clemson has a big edge in experience. I watched the Troy game in week one and was impressed with how Clemson turned it on in the second half. Conventional wisdom says Clemson should win, but Auburn has been defying the odds for nearly two years now, so who really knows? I won't even attempt to make a pick one way or the other.