The college football season will open up for the Clemson Tigers and Auburn Tigers on Saturday in Atlanta. However, one key person will be missing.
Clemson's star wide receiver Sammy Watkins will not travel or play with the team. After a misdemeanor drug arrest during the off-season, Watkins was suspended for team games, including the opener.
In last season's match-up, Watkins had ten catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. In his place, Clemson will turn to DeAndre Hopkins, Charone Peake, and Adam Humphries. A lot of pressure will be on these young receivers to fill the void of Watkins.
Also, Clemson's offensive line is very inexperienced and will be tested in keeping their quarterback protected. With a true freshman and converted defensive lineman starting up front, the Tigers will have to rely on great communication and instinct.
All of this works greatly in Auburn's favor.
Auburn has a history of having big, stocky defensive lineman, and this year is no different. The Tigers will rely on Jeff Whitaker and Angelo Blackson to stuff the middle and put pressure on quarterback Tahj Boyd. With big play up the middle, this will open up the outside for Dee Ford and Corey Lemonier to blitz.
If the Auburn defensive line can do its job and shut down the rushing attacks of Boyd and Andre Ellington, this will force Clemson to have to pass. Between the young offensive line and the absence of a receiving playmaker, Auburn should be able to break the Clemson offense down, leading to frustration and mistakes.