DeShaun Davis (above) is a redshirt sophomore for the Tigers.
The 5-11, 239-pound sophomore linebacker from Vigor High in Prichard was disappointed but not dismayed with the loss during which he contributed five tackles-- two solo and three assists--to go along with a half-tackle for a loss of a yard, one pass break-up and two quarterback hurries.
Auburn held Clemson’s vaunted offense, led by 2016 Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson, to 399 yards total offense and only 19 points, far below what many had anticipated from the visitors.
“It was fun to go out and compete in front of our crowd,” Davis said. “We got great energy from our crowd all game. I feel like the defense played well.
“I think we proved that we are a much better defense than last year. I believe we are going to improve as the season goes along. Our goal is to be the best defense in the country by the end of the season.
“As you can see, we have a lot of talent in a lot of places,” Davis said. “We play really fast and we all communicate. We are playing with great confidence. The scary thing is that we can still get better. Like I said, we can be as good as we want to be.”
With four first-time starters on defense and new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Davis said he believes it’s only going to be a matter of time until Auburn becomes a defense that can approach his and the defense’s goal of excellence.
In other notes:
*Clemson won the toss and elected to receive. Captains for AU were Montavious Adams, Alex Kozan, Marcus Davis and Carl Lawson.
*Auburn had seven first-time starters against Clemson. First-time starters for Auburn on defense: Marlon Davidson, Darrell Williams, Javaris Davis, Deshaun Davis. First-time starters for Auburn on offense: Xavier Dampeer, Ryan Davis, Darius Slayton. Davidson started as a true freshman.
*Sean White is the 10th different quarterback to start a season opener under Gus Malzahn in his 11 seasons as a collegiate coach. The only QB to start two openers under Malzahn has been Jeremy Johnson (2014 and 2015 at Auburn).
*Three Auburn quarterbacks saw action in the first two possessions. Sophomore Sean White started the game, senior Jeremy Johnson took the fifth snap and junior John Franklin III completed a pass on his first collegiate snap (sixth play of the game). Franklin and Johnson also lined up at receiver on the game’s third play, putting all three Auburn quarterbacks on the field at the same time
*All three quarterbacks completed at least one pass; the last time three Auburn quarterbacks completed at least one pass in the same game: 2013 vs. Florida Atlantic (Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson and Jonathan Wallace)
*Auburn scored first in its season opener for the third straight season (Louisville 2015, Arkansas 2014)
*Senior Josh Holsey had his second career interception in the third quarter. Both career interceptions have come in a season-opener (previous: Washington State, 2013).
*Junior defensive back Nick Ruffin finished with a career-high eight tackles (previous high: 7 vs. Jacksonville State, 2015).
*Freshmen Javaris Davis and sophomore Darrell Williams recorded their first career tackles.
*Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn and head men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl have come together to pledge $500,000 toward the campus-wide Because This is Auburn comprehensive campaign. Both coaches have structured their gifts to create two endowed scholarships for first-generation students, which will be appropriately named the Gus and Kristi Malzahn Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation Scholars and the Bruce and Brandy Pearl Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation Scholars. The remainder of their gifts will be used for the investment in Auburn Athletics academic programming for student-athletes. Student-Athlete Support Services provides a number of programs to help ensure student-athlete academic success from the time they enter Auburn as a freshman to graduation. These programs include: academic counseling, mentoring, tutoring, life skills and career development.
*Auburn now leads the all-time series with Clemson 34-14-2. AU is 21-5 in games played at Auburn, 10-6-1 in games at Clemson and 4-3-1 in neutral sites.
*AU fell to 95-27-2 in season openers. Alabama with 97 opening wins lead the Tigers while Arkansas also has won 96 openers.
*The Tigers are 121-76-9 in games against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.