Gus Malzahn is well known as a bit of a mad scientist on offense. Deshaun Watson is the first quarterback in FBS history to throw for over 4,000 yards and rush for a thousand more.
So one would think that when the Auburn head coach and Clemson superstar quarterback got together, there would be plenty of offensive fireworks to open the season. Through the first half however, anything but has occurred.
A defensive struggle broke out on the Plains on Saturday night, with Clemson taking a narrow 7-3 lead into the locker room as both teams struggled to find the end zone or even move the ball in an organized manner.
Daniel Carlson’s 53 yard field goal broke a deadlock early in the first quarter to give Auburn their only lead of the game but that was about all Malzahn’s group could muster.
Watson went to the locker room 11-of-19 for 148 yards, showing flashes of a Heisman Trophy finalist season from a year ago. There wasn’t enough magic on a consistent basis however with Auburn’s defense swarming him at every turn.
Receiver Mike Williams was a pleasant surprise to see emerge as Watson’s new favorite target though. He made a tough, sliding catch in the 2nd quarter for his first action since injuring himself in the opener last season and wound up with six catches for 105 yards.
Clemson tailback Wayne Gallman was responsible for the only touchdown of the game when he walked into the end zone nearly untouched out of a jumbo formation. In a bit of a nod to former Clemson star William Perry, defensive lineman Christian Wilkins was the fullback that helped clear the way for Gallman.
Fellow freshman defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence was also a big part of the game on the other side of the ball, picking up his first career sack while making life miserable all half for the young Auburn offensive line.