Clemson Tigers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


September 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers quarterback Kiehl Frazier (10) fumbles the ball after being hit by Clemson Tigers linebacker Marcus Bullard (57) in the second half at the Georgia Dome. Clemson won 26-19. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

The Auburn Tigers took the field for the first time in the 2012 regular season Saturday night against the Clemson Tigers. For most fans, it was the opportunity to try and create an identity for a young team with two new coordinators on both sides of the football. At the end of the game, with a bit of an identity developed, Auburn’s efforts were not enough as Clemson pulled out of the Georgia Dome with a 26-19 victory.

As Coach Gene Chizik has said in the past, it is never as good as it looks, and it is never as bad as it looks. Although Auburn was not able to put a W in the win column, there were some bright spots in Saturday night’s efforts. There were also some plays and shifts in momentum in which Auburn just could not capitalize and/or execute. Finally, there were some moments that just left the Auburn Family scratching their heads.

So without further ado, I present to you the good, the bad, and the ugly of the 2012 Auburn/Clemson matchup.

The Good:

Jay Prosch lives up to the hype. I caught myself in the second quarter watching Prosch every single offensive play because his play is so entertaining. He is a hat on hat, downhill, run it down your throat style of player who makes sure to find somebody to block on every single play. Every run for positive yardage was due to Prosch’s ability to seal off the edge or push somebody out of the hole, and the statistics show it. Tre Mason accounted for 106 yards on only 14 carries, while Onterio McCalebb gained 82 yards on 12 carries behind the big fullback. I am very excited to watch the Auburn offense develop into a more traditional style of offense behind the great blocking of Jay Prosch. His play alone made a big difference in the success of the running game last night.

The Bad:

Where did the defensive line pressure go to in the second half? I thought that Auburn did a great job getting to Clemson QB Tajh Boyd in the first half. Even on passes he completed, Boyd was paying the price for them early and often. Auburn accumulated all of their 4 sacks in the first half but could not seem to get pressure on Boyd from there on out. I am not sure if Clemson adjusted or if the Auburn defense was worn down due to losing the time of possession battle. Another factor that should be considered in the decline of defensive line pressure is the hurry up offense that Clemson utilizes. Mississippi State uses a variation of the spread, so that should help the game planning a bit for this week. In the future, the Auburn defense must maintain pressure on opposing QBs in order to help the unproven secondary. I was very disappointed to see the pressure on Boyd decrease as the game went on. I believe the coaches will evaluate accordingly and get this fixed for future opponents.

The Ugly:

Clemson accumulated 320 rushing yards. No, that is not a typo. I will type it again. Clemson had 320 rushing yards with 231 of those yards coming from Clemson tailback Andre Ellington. As I stated above in The Bad section, defensive line pressure was consistent in the first half alone, but the majority of pressure came from the work of Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford, Auburn’s outstanding defensive ends. It seems that the Auburn defense is still missing that force in the middle of their defense. A Tray Blackmon, Nick Fairley, or even a Josh Bynes would do wonders for the defensive production. I can say I was surprised that the interior of Auburn’s defensive line was held in check for the majority of the game. Somebody has to step up in the inside of that defensive line, and I believe they will, or it will be very tough to be successful against the run happy offenses of the SEC. Sure, Clemson’s offense is one of the most complex offenses in college football, but you are not going to be victorious giving up 300 rushing yards to anybody on the schedule. It is as simple as that.


Auburn did not play a cupcake opponent in their opening game of the 2012 season. Clemson is a good team, with or without star receiver Sammy Watkins. A lot of unknowns surrounding the 2012 Auburn Tigers were revealed last night, but we will get to see another unknown revealed in a week: how does this team react to disappointment and a defeat? This Auburn Tiger team is young, talented, and raw, but the effort was definitely there last night. Were there mistakes? Absolutely, but mistakes will be fixed, and this team will continue to get better each week. I will say this on last night’s performance: Auburn played a more total game last night than any game from the previous 2011 season. The effort is there. The talent is there. When these young Tigers grow up, and they will, I believe they will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the future.