Solid up front on offense

Aside from their final snap from scrimmage, all five starters on the Clemson offensive line went the distance in Saturday night's win over Auburn.

Right tackle Gifford Timothy was helped off the field by trainers following the Tigers' next to last offensive play. Dabo Swinney said Timothy had a flare up on the same knee he injured during preseason camp.

"It was just some scar tissue," Swinney said, during Sunday night's teleconference.

Timothy "checked out OK" after the 26-19 win.

As a unit, the Clemson offensive line checked out OK, too. The Tigers rushed for 320 yards and allowed four sacks, two of which Swinney said "were on" Tajh Boyd.

"You rush the ball for 320 yards against a very good football team in a tough environment…we felt confident once we got the game going," Swinney said. "We really liked how they were playing. They weren't perfect. There were some things we've got to do better. I really felt like they responded well.

"In the fourth quarter, they really took the game over."

THE DEFENSE: Despite giving up 180 yards on the ground and another 194 through the air, Clemson gave up just one touchdown.

"I thought they held tough," Swinney said.

Auburn converted on just 4 of 13 third-down attempts and committed two turnovers. The SEC's Tigers entered the red zone three times but exited with three points on each trip.

"Even though we gave up some chunk yards along the way, we rallied and played defense, and got a stop, and held them to field goals, not touchdowns," Swinney said. "That gave us a chance to overcome some of our mistakes that we had…they fought hard."

The defense's play down the stretch really impressed him.

"We got better as we went," Swinney said. "In the fourth quarter, I thought we were fresh, played hard. We had several guys step up and make big plays for us."

THOUGHT PROCESS: With 1:27 left to play, Clemson had the ball on the Auburn-1 with a chance to put the game away. Instead of going for the touchdown, Swinney elected to send Chandler Catanzaro out for an 18-yard field goal attempt.

Clemson went up 26-19 once Catanzaro knocked in his fourth 3-pointer of the night.

"The decision was if we take the three points, a touchdown doesn't even beat us. All it does is tie us," Swinney said, "As opposed to, yeah, if you go for it and punch it in, it's over right there, probably. But if you don't get [the touchdown], you give them a lot of momentum. Now a touchdown beats you.

"It was a pretty easy decision to just go ahead and take the field goal. We knew they were going to use their last timeout. We have about a minute, 20, or so, left on the clock. They were going to have to go the distance with no timeouts and score a touchdown, which is really hard to do.

"Just kind of played the percentages -- it worked out well for us."

FRESHMEN DEFENDERS: Travis Blanks and D.J. Reader were the only freshmen from the 2012 signing class to play in the season opener.

Blanks was in on four tackles and Reader had two.

"They were very solid, very solid. I think those are two guys that you're going to see play a bunch as we move throughout the year," Swinney said. "That's a big stage for two rookies to run up there in. Both those guys are very mature young me and responded well."

BEHIND 23: Andre Ellington put the team on his back Saturday night, rushing for 231 yards on 26 carries.

Given his medical history, it could be in Clemson's best interest to make sure Ellington has a lighter workload against Ball State and Furman, to insure he's at tip-top shape against Florida State.

Could that be the case?

"I hope so," Swinney said. "I'm really proud of D.J. [Howard] and Rod [McDowell]. They did some good things, ran the ball well -- obviously, a big touchdown by Rod McDowell."

He added, "I don't think there's any question that you're going to see a lot of D.J. Howard and Rod McDowell throughout the season. I'm very confident in both of those guys."

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