Muschamp Impressed With Clemson Offense

Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp tackles a variety of issues from Tommy Bowden to the Clemson offense to job searches.

Atlanta, Ga.--When Clemson's offense takes the field in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome on New Year's Eve, there will be a familiar face for head coach Tommy Bowden calling the shots from the other sideline.

Will Muschamp was a graduate assistant at Auburn in 1995 and 1996 while Bowden was the offensive coordinator under head coach Terry Bowden.

"He took the Tulane job (in 1997) and wouldn't hire me," Muschamp jokes. "Nah, we had a great relationship and we've kept in touch since I was a graduate assistant and he was an assistant and through his days at Tulane and over at Clemson. I've got a lot of respect for him and obviously his family and what they've accomplished.

"I think the job he has done at Clemson has been very unappreciated," he adds. "I think he's done an outstanding every year. They've won, they've been in bowl games every year, he's a good man and I think he does a great job."

Offensive coordinator Rob Spence will be calling the plays for Clemson, but as a former offensive coordinator Tommy Bowden obviously has his hand in the game plan.

Muschamp adds that he has a lot of respect for the Clemson offense and says the first quarter will be the key for his defense.

"Their coordinator Rob Spence does a great job of giving you multiple shifts, formations, adjustments in the game," the film junky says. "I remember saying this last year at the Cotton Bowl--you've got to survive the first 12, 14, 16 snaps of the game as they're working on the script with all of the new things you're going to see. Because what we've been practicing, we're probably not going to see. We're going to see some different shifts, motions, personnel groupings.

"They do a great job of that, and they utilize their two play-makers," Muschamp continues. ‘James Davis and C.J. Spiller are game-changers. They can take it the distance at any time. Cullen Harper has done an outstanding job at quarterback. He's completing right at 68 percent of his passes. What they do in the throwing game is difficult because it's the intermediate passing game. They do a good job and he's very accurate. Aaron Kelly is a tough match-up outside. He's a 6-5 kid who has great ball skills down the field. Tyler Grisham does a great job in the slot. They've got three senior offensive linemen so they're very experienced up front.

"They do a good job of what they do. We've got to get honed in early on as to what they're giving us from an adjustment standpoint and do a great job from the press box to the sideline in the game of getting our kids in the right spots in the right situations because they're a very explosive attack. Again, they're first or second in the ACC in about every category. The two play-makers are obviously the two backs. Both of them are outstanding."

Clemson runs a spread attack, which may or may not be what Auburn runs on Monday night with new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin.

Franklin's offense at Troy this year averaged 80-plus plays per game, which will likely translate into more plays for Muschamp's defense if the Tigers implement the new system against Clemson.

"I don't worry about it," Muschamp says of the extra plays. "I worry about points being scored and our job is to stop them regardless of how many snaps you play."

However, playing in un-December like temperatures in the confines of the Georgia Dome, one phase to keep an eye on is the defensive linemen getting winded. Muschamp expects to play a ton of guys up front to stay fresh.

"Once you practice there a couple of times you feel pretty acclimated with the conditions," Muschamp says. The Tigers have practiced in the Dome since the 28th. "We'll rotate and play about 10 or 12 guys up front and really that's the only guys I worry about. Those big guys, when they get gassed they're done. We've got to do a good job of rotating those guys, which we do. We sub and play a lot of guys up front.

"We had good preparation in Auburn," he adds. "We went back to fundamentals, basics and technique and what we were trying to do. I was asked earlier in the week about repping younger players, but that's mostly what we've got on defense. We don't have many seniors. We had real good fundamental practices and we repped about three days on Clemson to focus in on first and 10, second down and third down situations, short-yardage, goal line and the red area.

"We've had great preparation and we're looking forward to the game. We're pretty healthy. Bo Harris is the only one that's out for this game. He had to have reconstructive surgery on his shoulder so he'll be out, but we feel pretty healthy going into the game. We've got most of the guys that were nicked up during the year back. We're looking forward to a great opportunity on Monday."

Tiger Ticket Notes
Muschamp's name was mentioned as being a possibility for the Georgia Tech and Arkansas head coaching openings earlier in December, but says that not all of the information leaked out was true with those situations. "It's a credit to this program, these kids and this staff to have your name mentioned in those situations," he explains. "I felt like I was going to be at Auburn all along. Whatever is on the Internet or in the newspaper doesn't mean it's true. I think in our society now-a-days that if he's printed then it (must be) true. There is a lot of fiction out there, I can tell you that. I'm happy to be at Auburn, I love Auburn, and it's a great place to be.

So what would be the right situation for Muschamp to leave Auburn? "I think you know when it happens. I think you know when it's offered, you feel good about it, it's the right fit and it's the right fit for your family. I've got a six-year-old, a two-year-old and a wife that likes living in certain places. That's an important part. Quality of life is an important part. Obviously being in a situation where you can win a championship is very important and having the resources available to you from a salary standpoint for your assistant coaches. There are a lot of factors that go into being in the right situation. I think that there are so many really good jobs out there, and if you can be selective then you need to be selective."

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