By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Prime time. National television. Visiting the defending national champs.
For Auburn offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, Saturday’s 6 p.m. CT showdown at No. 3 Clemson on ESPN presents a robust challenge.
“You come to Auburn to play in games like this,” Lindsey said. “I think our players are really excited about the opportunity to play a really good Clemson team on the road, and all of the things that go with it.”
Auburn turned up the noise at practice this week, hoping the Tigers’ offense can silence Clemson’s crowd.
“You just try to simulate it as best you can in practice,” Lindsey said. “Hopefully your system is built where it will weather any kind of storm, whether it’s on the road or at home.”
Against Georgia Southern, No. 13 Auburn’s offense produced 535 yards, with Jarrett Stidham passing for 185 and two touchdowns.
“I thought Jarrett played well,” Stidham said. “He took what they gave us, so to speak. In the RPO [Run-Pass Option] world, you don’t know if you’re going to throw it or run it until after the ball is snapped. I thought he made some really good decisions, and I think he’ll improve each week.”
After a first-quarter interception, Stidham completed 4 of his next 5 passes.
“When he made the mistake early, it could have gone bad for him,” Lindsey said. “I thought he kept his head up. That’s what you want your quarterback to do. You’ve got to play the next play. You can’t rely too much on the good and the bad of the previous play. I thought he continued to improve.”
Stidham will have an additional receiving option against Clemson in Kyle Davis, who averaged 20.7 yards per catch as a freshman last season.
“A big presence. A big body,” Lindsey said of the 6-foot-2, 213-pound Davis. “A guy who played a lot last year and made some plays. He’s one of those guys you can put out there in a one-on-one situation and have an opportunity to win some. For us, he’s a veteran guy, even though he’s a young player. We’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Running back Kamryn Pettway, the SEC’s leading returner rusher in yards per game, will make his 2017 debut against Clemson.
“I’m excited about him,” Lindsey said. “He’s a guy who obviously is a veteran player who has carried the ball a lot. “I think he’s anxious to go. He’s a talented guy who has played a lot. I think for sure, he’ll be ready to go.”
Facing Clemson’s highly regarded defensive line, Auburn’s offensive line will play a key role in Saturday’s game.
“They’re a very talented defense for sure,” Lindsey said. “Well coached. Do a great job. They play really hard. Our offensive line, we have three veteran players who anchor the front for us,” said Lindsey of center Austin Golson, right guard Braden Smith and right tackle Darius James.
“I think they’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s definitely a really talented front. We have to play well as a unit. It’s not really one group. If we play well as a unit, we’ll have an opportunity to win.”
Auburn’s offense, Lindsey says, includes a combination of proven plays and concepts from previous seasons, along with elements the Tigers’ new play-caller has added.
“You try to go in with a simple plan where you can execute,” Lindsey said. “That’s what we did [in Auburn’s 41-7 win over Georgia Southern]. As you move forward, your team continues to evolve. I think we’re headed in the right direction.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer