Chandler Cox (above) is playing tailback in addition to fullback this season.
After starting 10 games as a true freshman in 2015, Cox had the first carries of his college playing days against Clemson with four rushes for seven yards.
Following a sluggish first half during which Auburn had only 37 yards total offense, the Tigers rebounded with 225 second-half yards and came within a Hail Mary pass of knocking off the highly-ranked visitors.
Asked what Coach Gus Malzahn had to say at intermission, Cox said it was simple. “He said we had to execute. That’s what we tried to do after halftime. He just said we have to trust each other
“I was telling the offense before the game that we have to trust each other and stick together when things go bad,” Cox said. “We scored a touchdown in the second half and that’s when we started to click.”
Cox predicted the Tigers won’t be deterred from having a good season despite a disappoining loss on opening night. “What makes us special is that we are going to keep fighting no matter what happens,” he said. “We’ll focus on Arkansas State next week and put this one behind us.”
In other news and notes:
*AU had only one first down and 19 yards total offense in the first quarter. The AU defense limited Clemson to four first downs and 85 yards in the opening 15 minutes. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson gained only six yards rushing and 30 passing in the quarter.
*It didn’t any better the second quarter for Auburn as the Tigers managed only 18 yards total offense, one yard on the ground and 36 passing. Clemson had 233 yards total offense at the half, including 148 in the second quarter.
*AU finally got a semblance of offensive production in the second half to finish with 262 yards to 399 for Clemson. Auburn outgained Clemson 225 yards to 166 in the second half.
*Sophomore walk-on receiver Will Hastings hauled in his first college reception, an eight-yard gainer in the first quarter, giving Auburn its initial first down of the game. Hastings’ three receptions led to two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion.
*Sophomore running back Kerryon Johnson finished with a career-high 94 yards on 23 carries. His previous high was 36 yards (2015 at Kentucky). He ran for his third career touchdown in the fourth quarter.
*Sophomore receiver Ryan Davis had his first career reception late in the third quarter (15 yards and a first down).
*Freshman receiver Kyle Davis had his first career reception in the fourth quarter, a 43-yard catch that was Auburn’s longest play of the game.
*Marlon Davidson is the first true freshman to start a season opener on Auburn’s defensive line searching records that go back through the 1985 season.
*Defensive tackle Derrick Brown’s second-quarter fumble recovery was the first for the freshman. It was Darrell Williams’ first forced fumble.
*Javaris Davis and Darrell Williams recorded their first career tackles as Auburn players.
*Kevin Phillips’ 68-yard punt was a career long and the 11th longest in AU history. It’s the longest punt since a 71-yarder by Kody Bliss vs. Tulane in 2006. It was his 11th career punt of 50 of more yards.
*Daniel Carlson’s 53-yard field goal in the second quarter was the sixth 50-plus yard field goal of his career. Carlson set the Auburn career record for 50-plus yard field goals, breaking the old mark by Neil O’Donoghue (five in 1975-76). It was Carlson’s 42nd career field goal at Auburn, which ties him for fifth in that category with Al Del Greco (1980-83), who Carlson surpassed with a fourth quarter field goal of 32 yards.
*Carlson converted his 98th consecutive point after touchdown attempt. Auburn kickers have made 125 consecutive PATs dating back to the 2013 Tennessee game. He tied Gardner Jett (1970-72) for sixth in Auburn history with 98 extra points. Carlson’s 227 career points as a kicker puts him only three points behind Win Lyle (1987-89) for sixth place in AU history for points scored by a kicker.
*Auburn’s last 50-plus yard field goal came against Ole Miss in 2015 (52 yards), also by Carlson. He is 6-7 in his career on attempts of 50 or more yards and has converted 18 of his last 19 field goals dating back to the Tigers’ 2015 game at Kentucky.
*AU now has 17 consecutive sellouts after the Clemson contest.
*The Tigers are tied with Hawaii with 91 consecutive games without a blocked punt.
*Four skydivers landed near midfield prior to the eagle flight by Spirit in the pre-game ceremonies.