The first-year Auburn defensive line coach and the rest of the Tigers were on the practice for a light workout on Thursday evening polishing the game plan for Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff at Clemson.
"They realize last week how big a jump they made and they came to practice this week with the right attitude to work because they all want to get better," Pelton told Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I am pleased with their attitude."
Pelton noted that the players on Auburn's defensive front are looking forward to testing themselves on the road. "They are excited and they know what kind of challenge it is going to be," he said.
"It is probably going to be our biggest challenge yet because our first two games were at home and now we have to see what we can do on the road with the crowd against us in Death Valley." A crowd of just over 80,000 is expected for Saturday's game at Memorial Stadium, which has the nickname of Death Valley.
Auburn's defensive front, for a third consecutive week, will face a veteran offensive line. "Does anybody ever graduate off those offensive lines that we are playing this year?" Pelton said.
"Our kids understand that the Clemson offensive line is experienced," the coach pointed out. "We have two games of experience with some of our guys, but I think they will respond.
"Maybe one of these years I will be playing with experienced guys and teams we are playing will be younger, but at this time it is not like that so I am excited about the opportunity our young guys have," Pelton added.
The first two weeks of the season Utah State and Mississippi State came out with plays and formations that Auburn had not planned for, but this week Clemson is expected to use a very similar offensive system to what Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has the Tigers running.
Asked if that will be a plus for the Auburn defense, Pelton said, "They will be different. Their personnel is different than ours. The running back they have got (Andre Ellington) is an explosive type of guy. I am sure we will see his touches go up."
Freshman defensive tackle Devaunte Sigler will be one of the Auburn players seeing action on the road for the first time.
While preparing for what Clemson does offensively is important in preparation, Pelton said the main focus has been on what Auburn is doing after the Tigers struggled on defense in wins over Utah State and Mississippi State. "We need to make sure our guys line up right and do what we call," he said. "When it is our defense vs. their defense it is going to boil down to execution."
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said he has fond memories of his two seasons he spent as a graduate assistant coach at Clemson in 1988 and 1989. Both teams posted 10-2 records and the first team won the ACC Championship. Chizik said he expects a "frenzied crowd" because he said Saturday's contest is a very important game for the ACC team.
Chizik said he told his team this week they needed to make progress in practice this week to beat Clemson because despite his squad's 2-0 record the Tigers are "at best a very average football team" and noted during parts of the game vs. Mississippi State they weren't even average.
"I feel like we are a better team on Thursday night than we were last Sunday because our practices have been excellent," Chizik said. "We full-padded them up this week. We really tried to impress upon them the importance the physicality in this game will be and I think they responded."
In other news and notes:
*Redshirt freshman defensive Justin Delaine injured his knee last Saturday and is out for the season. Pelton, his position coach, said it is a tough pill for the young player to swallow.
"He didn't take it so well," the coach said. "I told him anytime you are destined for something great you have to overcome something. This is something he is going to have to overcome. He has come a long way and now he has a challenge that has stepped in his way. I told him how he responds to it is totally up to him. Given the frame of mind he was in before the injury, I think he will be fine."
*Saturday's game will be televised on ABC with the contest set to start at 11 a.m. CDT from Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. On Auburn's last appearance there the visiting Tigers, led by future Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan and Coach Shug Jordan, jumped to a big early lead and cruised to a 44-0 victory in 1970.
*Auburn has a record of 10-5-1 in games played at Clemson and holds a 34-11-2 advantage in the series that features 14 consecutive victories by AU.
*Auburn won last year's game vs. Clemson 27-24 in overtime at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The teams have another matchup scheduled. They will meet at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game to open the 2012 season. The contest will be played at the Georgia Dome, but the date and time have not been announced.