While the final score of the Auburn vs. Clemson Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game did not favor the Tigers, Auburn did look like a different, better team than last year. Here's a quick synopsis of AU's weaknesses and strengths, as the Tigers try to avoid the same outcome next week against Mississippi State.
Tajh Boyd, DeAndre Hopkins, and Andre Ellington wore the Auburn defense down with their no huddle offense. Clemson had a total time of possession of 31:45, compared to Auburn’s possession time of 28:15 - not much of a difference, which raises some concern about the stamina of the defense.
Though Auburn attacked the line of scrimmage and increased its pressure on the quarterback (as compared to last year), Ellington still managed to rack up 231 yards on 26 carries, with Boyd throwing for 208 yards. It was the first game under a new defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, so maybe the Tigers will have an adjustment period.
Auburn offense is lead by sophomore quarterback, Kiehl Frazier, who went 11 of 27 for a total of 194 yards - not the best way to begin the season. It was clear that Frazier was not comfortable in the pocket.
Auburn needs to capitalize in the red zone and on third downs. All three red zone trips resulted in field goals - a major factor in the outcome of the game. The Tigers were also only 4 of 13 on third downs. AU will need to be more efficient in these areas moving forward.
Auburn has four key offensive players that can be difference-makers this year. Tre Mason and Ontario McCalebb share the duties in the backfield. Mason had 14 carries for 106 yards, and McCalebb ran for 88 yards on 12 carries and two receptions. Emory Blake made some big plays, with four receptions for 109 yards. Yet, the best addition to this offense is fullback Jay Prosch. His blocking opened up lanes for McCalebb and Mason - something that will be essential if the Tigers are to compete with the top teams in the SEC.
On the other side of the ball, defensive end Corey Lemonier did an excellent job of pressuring Boyd and Clemson's offensive line, finishing with 2 sacks and 8 tackles. Linebacker Daren Bates also had a great game, finishing with 14 tackles.