Young Tiger receivers are ready for big test

Quarterback Kyle Parker has attempted only 26 passes in Clemson's first two games. He has passed for 284 yards with four touchdowns to four receivers.

CLEMSON, S.C. --- Clemson gets the chance this week to show if it can still throw the football.


The Tigers (2-0) won the ACC's Atlantic Division last year in part because of a lively passing attack. However, the team's three leading receivers from that squad -- Jacoby Ford, Michael Palmer and C.J. Spiller -- are in the NFL and Clemson has yet to be pushed in wins over North Texas and Presbyterian.

That trio accounted for over 60 percent of Clemson's receptions and touchdown catches last fall.

On Saturday, Clemson faces No. 16 Auburn (2-0), which is third in the Southeastern Conference in rush defense but in the league's bottom half against the pass. It's Clemson's first visit to Auburn since 1971.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney says it's critical for his team's young receivers to give quarterback Kyle Parker good targets. He says he's not sure what'll happen to his inexperienced players when the lights turn on at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Tight end Dwayne Allen believes Clemson's young players are ready for that kind of challenge.

In both of its wins this season, Clemson used its rushing attack -- led by experienced backs Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington -- to gain quick control.

Allen is glad for his role in opening holes, but he says he and the rest of the receivers are ready for bigger things.

"I've been eager for the opportunity to showcase my talents and really contribute," said Allen, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound sophomore.

Auburn has allowed only 80 yards on the ground, but it has given up nearly three times that much (226 yards) through the air.

Defending Clemson's run game is important, Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. But it's also a mistake not to pay attention to Allen and tall, rangy wideouts like Brandon Clear, Jaron Brown and Xavier Dye.

"All of them are very talented, some fast guys out there," Chizik said. "That's problematic for any defense. Defensively, you look at them, their size and speed, what they bring to the table is a very physical brand of football."