"You're talking about the best player in college football last year, on anybody's ballot," Steele said. "If they had to play him or defend him, they certainly would have voted that way. You can't replace a guy like that.
"But the offense, they've still got players, and they've got good players, and they're well coached. They just do it in a different way."
Possibly the biggest loss for the Auburn offense is Newton's presence as a runner. Newton and the Tigers rode the stretch read play all the way to last year's national championship.
"They've run some of that, but [Barrett Trotter] gives the ball. I think a couple times he's kept it, but not much," Steele said.
Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb -- the guys Trotter is handing the ball off to -- are pretty good.
"You've seen running backs jump out there pretty quick as freshmen. It's just one of those things, guys have it or they don't have it," Steele said. "What you see, is you see guys get a little bit more powerful, a little bit stronger with the way they run. That's the biggest difference. The skill is there."
LET'S GET PHYSICAL: For all the talk of needing to be more physical on the offensive side of the ball, Clemson is just two games in to the Chad Morris experience.
Dwayne Allen expects a physical game on Saturday. (Roy Philpott)
"Familiarity and physicality to hand in hand," Allen said. "The more familiar we get with this offense, the more we're going to be able to play faster, open up and be the physical beasts that we have on this offensive line."
It was only a year ago when Clemson and Auburn squared off in one of the most physical games of Allen's career.
That night in Jordan-Hare, the tight end took a big hit from one of the Auburn safeties.
"I never got hit that hard in my life," he said. "But I got up and came back for more."
GEARING UP: Andre Ellington ran for 140 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries at Auburn.
Heading into Saturday, those Tigers are third-worst against the run in the entire country. Out of 120 teams, the Auburn run defense ranks 118th, having given up an average of 280 yards per game.
Ellington could be looking at a big afternoon.
"Those guys up front kind of prepared me to have that type of game [last year]. Without them, the holes wouldn't be there for me to take," he said.
The redshirt junior will have plenty of responsibility to carry on Saturday, and it won't just be on the field.
"My leadership role, it has to grow," Ellington said. "I have to get a lot of the guys along with me and just let them know it's a big game."
It sure is.