Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE
After 528 yards and 87 plays, Auburn fans realized that the arrival of Brian Van Gorder will not magically fix the Auburn defense.
The scheme was different and the Auburn defense was much more aggressive than a year prior. Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford combined for four sacks. Beyond that, there was not much for Auburn fans to be happy about with the defense.
The first three-and-out for the Auburn defense occurred on Clemson's first possession of the second half.
In 2011, Clemson racked up 624 yards and ran 92 plays. That is only an improvement of 96 yards and five plays in one year under a new coordinator.
Some of the same things that plagued the Auburn defense last year reared their ugly heads again on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome. Van Gorder summed up his thoughts on the defense's play succintcly by saying "poor tackling."
Not surprisingly, 320 of the yards allowed by Auburn were on the ground (231 yards by Andre Ellington). A lot of those yards occurred after initial contact. Missed tackles occurred on all levels of the defense. Defensive tackles, linebackers and safeties.
Third-down defense was somewhat better in this matchup. Clemson converted 8-of-17 third-down plays. When a stop was needed the most on Clemson's next to last drive, the Auburn defense allowed Tajh Boyd to escape the pressure and get a first down that may have clinched the game.
The secondary play against Clemson deserves its own slide for its efforts. We will talk about that unit later in this column.
On the bright side, the defense did do a decent job of bending but not breaking. Auburn forced Clemson to kick field goals in three of its five trips to the red zone.
Also, Daren Bates intercepted Tajh Boyd to help give Auburn the lead early in the fourth quarter. There was also a turnover in the first half that was overturned after video replay.
This was Van Gorder's first time against an offense like Chad Morris' uptempo hurry up, no huddle style. According to Justin Hokanson of AuburnSports.com (subscription required), Van Gorder allowed 500-plus yards one time when he was defensive coordinator at UGA. Auburn fans hope this is the only time he allows 500-plus as an Auburn defensive coordinator.
Auburn will most likely not see any offenses that have better playmakers at the skill positions than Clemson's. Excuses aside, this was not a good start for Van Gorder's tenure as Auburn defensive coordinator.