Clemson coach Dabo Swinney spent a couple minutes previewing his team’s season-opener against Auburn on The Paul Finebaum Show Monday.
ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee, filling in for Finebaum, asked Swinney if the coach expects a similar game to the one the two programs played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2010.
“Auburn is Auburn — very well coached, they are always one of the best recruiting schools out there, they have a lot of talent,” Swinney said. “It’s an incredibly tough venue. It’s a great place to go play a college football game, so it will be a big challenge there’s no question about it.”
The respectful tone of Swinney’s comments echoes the way Gus Malzahn has discussed the opener throughout the offseason.
“We have a pretty tough opener, obviously with Clemson, one of the better teams in all of college football, with maybe the best player in all of college football,” Malzahn said at SEC Media Days.
Swinney didn’t spend much of his time discussing Auburn at the ACC Media Days last week. The only question about Clemson’s opponent in the opener was directed at Deshaun Watson about the quarterback’s relationship with Cam Newton.
“Me and Cam are really close,” Watson said. “Had the opportunity and privilege to meet him in junior high school, playing for his first seven-on-seven team. Ever since then we became close friends. Communicate all the time, text, call.”
Watson wasn’t part of the 2010 game, which Auburn won 27-24 in overtime on a 39-yard field goal from Wes Byrum, but it’s a memory fresh in Swinney’s mind.
“It came down to one play,” Swinney said. “They go on to win the national championship after that.”
While only one of the teams is a preseason national title contender, Swinney isn’t taking the Sept. 3 matchup lightly.
“We’ve got to be playing at a very, very high level right out of the gate, so lot of respect for the program and what they do,” Swinney said. “There are a lot of unknowns. We’ve got players they haven’t seen, they are going to have players we haven’t seen and you don’t get preseason games. You have more time to prepare for this one than any other game. You just got to go play and make good adjustments during the game, let the chips fall where they are. It will be a great game. I don’t have any doubt about that.”