It’s been said before, and it will be said again … and again … and again. The Auburn football team has one of the best defensive lines in not only the conference, but it also has one of the best in the country. The Tigers’ will have their first chance to show it Saturday night on ESPN.
And the line may need an extremely impressive performance is it wants Auburn to leave the Georgia Dome with 1-0 record.
Dee Ford and Corey Lemonier provide a blitz on the outside that should have Tahj Boyd‘s dreams turned to nightmares for the next three months. Should is the key word. With Clemson‘s mostly inexperienced line, the duo will most likely be able to take advantage of the situation. If so, Boyd’s passing game will have bigger problems than Sammy Watkins not being on the field.
Jeff Whitaker and Angelo Blackson bring a huge threat to the inside. Whitaker proved himself last year and returns as one of the leaders in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball. Blackson, a sophomore, has not had a chance to prove himself yet, but will have a large opportunity Saturday.
If the tackles are able to stop Andre Ellington‘s rushing attack, that will complete the vicious circle. Without a rushing game, Clemson will be forced to pass. With consistent pressure on the quarterback, he will be hurried, if not sacked. Hurried passes will give the secondary a better chance to create turnovers. A victory in turnovers normally equals a victory in the game.
What ultimately led to the Tigers’ defeat last season against Clemson on the road was not being able to stop the home Tigers on third down. With steady pressure, that should not be as big of a problem in 2012.
The depth on the line is also a benefit. With Gabe Wright and 2011 starter Ken Carter at tackle and 2011 starter Nosa Eguae and Craig Sanders at end, along with others, the Tigers have more than enough re-enforcements.
While it is obviously still crucial for the offense to score, Kiehl Frazier‘s transition into starting quarterback will be much simpler if the defense keeps Clemson off the board. Teamwork will be critical if the underdogs are going to pull off the upset, and that will start on defense with the line.