September 1, 2012

THE DEFENSE: Mental errors leave VanGorder upset

ATLANTA -- Clemson's rapid-fire offense is designed to force a defense into making mental mistakes.

Auburn acquiesced far too often Saturday night.

Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was disappointed after the Tigers' 26-19 loss inside the Georgia Dome and wasn't shy about criticizing his group's ability to adapt.

"The pace of their offense is tough. As coaches and players, we didn't handle that as well as we had anticipated," VanGorder said. Communication was not as good as it needs to be with somebody who is pacing you like that. That's coaching, too. We have to do a better job. We have to get better."

Clemson's offense, which is based the same attack Gus Malzahn implemented at Auburn in 2009, managed to run 87 plays Saturday night. It gained 528 yards.

The biggest problem?

Tailback Andre Ellington, who was big enough to break through tackles and fast enough to pull away from even the fastest defenders. He finished with 231 yards on 26 carries.

"He's a great player and we didn't go at him the way we should have," safety Jermaine Whitehead said. "We have to punish running backs. We have to get them down and get them down hard. He didn't quit and I respect him for that. He played the leading role for his team."

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