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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney praises Auburn, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney speaks during a news conference at the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, July 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) AP

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney stayed away from any bulletin board material six days away from kicking off the season against Auburn.

During a conference call with reporters Sunday night, Swinney spent much of the time praising his team’s week one opponent.

"I got a lot of respect for Auburn and the amount of talent they have on that team,” Swinney said. “They're coming off a major disappointing season but if you look at their games, they really competed and had a just to win every game.”

While the personnel has completely turned over since the last time the teams played in 2012, Swinney expects to see similarities in the players Auburn sends out on the field Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium as the ones they relied on four years ago in Atlanta.

“Auburn has always been Auburn in the sense that they always have dudes that can run, dudes that have size and dudes that have athleticism,” Swinney said. “They've been well coached for a long time. That part of it never changes."

Clemson is looking to win its first game at Auburn since 1950. Auburn won 14 straight games over its former rival from 1951 to 2010.

Swinney wasn’t surprised at Auburn announcing Sean White as the team’s starting quarterback last week. From having studied the sophomore quarterback on film, Swinney saw the same things Auburn’s coaching staff did in naming him the week one starter.

“You don't make that decision when they did without being confident in him,” Swinney said. “He's a highly recruited guy that has been named the starting quarterback at Auburn. That doesn't happen by luck. He's a guy that is capable of taking this team and winning this game.”

Swinney still expects Auburn to use a second quarterback in some capacity this weekend.

Clemson’s coach also talked about his former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who Auburn hired away from LSU during the offseason. Steele coached under Swinney from 2009 to 2011 with the defense leading the ACC in 2010 (No. 3 nationally) in points allowed per game (18.8 points)

The defense made its first ever Bow Championship series game, but suffered an embarrassing 70-33 lose to West Virginia that set a record for points allowed in a bowl game.

“Coach Steele was huge part of laying a foundation here in 2009 and 2010,” Swinney said. “He helped us win our first ACC Championship in 20 years. It's always difficult when there is a change. It was a situation where I just felt like he needed a change and I needed a change and that's what happened. That has nothing to do with how I feel about him as a man and as a coach.”

Swinney expects Steele to have Auburn’s defense playing at a high level this weekend.

“This guy has the best track record of working for several of the best programs around and again, you don't have those types of jobs without being a heck of a coach,” Swinney said. “From time to time there's changes in philosophy and things like that but that doesn't have anything to do with a person's ability to coach.”

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