Auburn looking forward to ‘huge game’ at defending national champion Clemson

Auburn looking forward to ‘huge game’ at defending national champion Clemson

Tray Matthews isn’t overlooking Auburn’s season opener, but he’s not real interested in the wait until the Sept. 9 rematch with Clemson either.

The senior safety said Auburn is prepared to take on the defending national champions whenever the game is.

Asked during SEC Media Days if he liked the game being in Week 2 as opposed to last year’s season opener or later in the season to allow the Tigers to “get their feet wet,” Matthews said Auburn is ready now.

“Our feet are already wet,” Matthew said. “We’ll be ready to play them first game, second game, third game, right now if you wanted to. It doesn’t really matter. … We’re ready to get after it all the time.”

Matthews, Auburn’s leading tackler last season and defensive leader, wasn’t being boisterous or going for bravado. There is simply a feeling throughout the Auburn locker room that last year’s game, a 19-13 Clemson win on the Plains, could have easily gone the other way.

Early scouting report: Clemson

Of course, it’s easy for any losing team to make such a claim but given Auburn’s ludicrous quarterback rotation against Clemson and how Auburn played during a six-game win streak in the middle of the season, it’s not unrealistic to say Auburn could have won if it played to its capabilities. That’s why the loss sticks with so many of Auburn’s players heading into this season.

“I felt like we could have won that game, but we just didn’t play good,” offensive tackle Braden Smith said. “That was the deciding factor. So, I feel like if we can go in there and play a solid game, we definitely have a chance to come out with a victory. We just got to be able to put it all together and really compete.”

Gus Malzahn said playing the College Football Playoff national champs on their home turf is a “huge game,” and it will be a tall order for Auburn to win in Death Valley no matter how much Clemson’s roster has changed from last season.

“They’re the defending national champions, you go to their stadium, it’s going to be their first big game and it’s going to be a big challenge,” Malzahn said. “It’s going to be a good measuring stick where we’re at. Obviously, that was a frustrating game last year. I mean from everybody, our fans standpoint, our players standpoint, we didn’t play well.

“We’re looking forward to it. That’ll be a big game early in the season.But I will say this, if you ask our players it’s Georgia Southern, and that’s what we got to take care of first.”

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Published at Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:00:00 +0000