Players to watch: Clemson at Auburn

It's not all about Cam Newton and Kyle Parker for Saturday's game on The Plains.

WR Emory Blake -- The sophomore caught his first career touchdown pass against Mississippi State, taking a short bubble screen 39 yards for an early first quarter score. Blake, the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake, wants to make his mark at wide receiver after impressing coaches with his work on special teams. Blake, who never had to tackle anyone in high school, already has two tackles this season on kickoffs.

DT Nick Fairley -- The junior is coming off his best career performance, when he hit for the "defensive cycle" against Mississippi State. He did everything but score a touchdown on defense, picking up 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception. The key now is maintaining the type of attitude that allowed him to thrive so much against the Bulldogs. Coaches say Fairley's inconsistency is his biggest weakness. Maybe a touch of success will be the cure to keep him going strong.

LB Eltoro Freeman -- Starting in place of suspended OLB Craig Stevens, Freeman has played with confidence in his first two games this season, leading the Tigers with 15 tackles. Freeman's energy has never been a concern. It's just a matter of channeling that excitement into smart football decisions, an attribute that has significantly increased since Freeman arrived last year as a raw junior-college transfer.

Brandon Maye is anxious to return to the starting lineup having missed the first two games this season and most of the Music City Bowl win over Kentucky. (Roy Philpott)
WLB Brandon Maye -- Maye is eagerly anticipating his first game in quite some time. Maye played just three snaps in last year's Music City Bowl due to injury, and then unexpectedly missed the first two games this season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Sept. 1. He's chomping at the bit to return to action, particularly since he grew up an Auburn fan in Mobile, Ala.

TE Dwayne Allen -- Allen has just three catches this season, but he's made the most of them, averaging 30 yards per reception. A tight end with receiver-like speed and agility, Allen could prove to be just the pass-catching threat Clemson needs to establish a passing game that has been adequate but not overly impressive in the season's first two weeks.

RB Jamie Harper -- Harper, at 6-foot, 235 pounds, is the type of big-bodied back that Clemson will need to inflict damage against a powerful and physical Auburn defense. Harper, who rushed for 101 yards two weeks ago but saw limited action in a romp vs. Presbyterian last Saturday, has shown a willingness to lower his head and take on tacklers that had been sporadic in the past.

"I think he's realized who he is and what he is - and that's a 235-pound running back," Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier said. Top Stories