Auburn Football: Tigers Must Exploit Clemson's OL to Win Chick-Fil-A Kickoff

Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 31, 2012

Auburn DE Dee Ford
Auburn DE Dee FordKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The matchup between No. 14 Clemson and No. 25 Auburn on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome in the second of two Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games is probably the most intriguing game of the weekend.

Clemson enters with new defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who's looking to erase the scars of Clemson's 70-33 beatdown at the hands of West Virginia in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

Meanwhile, Auburn enters with two new coordinators, a new offensive system and in search of translating years of recruiting success into sustained success on the field.

This game is shrouded in mystery, but the most important battle of the game will be up front when Clemson has the ball.

Clemson's offensive line is replacing three starters from last year's group, and presumed starter Gifford Timothy displaced his kneecap and tore his meniscus early in August.

That plays into Auburn's strength under first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

Auburn will roll into the Georgia Dome about eight deep along the defensive line, which was a big reason that the Tigers won the national title in 2010.

Defensive end Nosa Eguae and defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Kenneth Carter all missed spring practice, which allowed Auburn to develop a ton of depth across its defensive front.

All three of those players now find themselves as backups on Auburn's Week 1 depth chart behind Dee Ford, Jeffrey Whitaker and Angelo Blackson, respectively. They will be joined in the starting lineup by preseason first-team All-SEC defensive end Corey Lemonier.

That's a good thing for Auburn.

With quality depth up front, Auburn can rotate fresh bodies in to face the inexperienced Clemson offensive line, which means the likelihood of getting pressure rushing just four increases.

It's a simple plan: Getting pressure on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd increases the chance that he will make a mistake, which will help out an Auburn offense that is still very much a work in progress until proven otherwise.