Clemson Offense Goes as the OL Goes
Going into the spring, retooling the offensive line is probably the top priority on the table for Coach Dabo Swinney and staff. The tigers lost four starters off an offensive line that helped lead Clemson to the 5th ranked offense in the country. Only Jackson Carmen at left tackle returns, but there is experience returning.
“The first group offensive line wise is a big thumbs up. Man, I’m super super encouraged with those guys. Blake (Vinson) is not even out here right now. He’s out here but he’s not doing any live work. Those two tackles (Jordan) McFadden and Jackson (Carmen) are doing a really good job. Bock is really great and two guys I’m really super pleased with are Cade (Stewart) and (Will) Putnam. Putnam has really improved from where he was,” according to Coach Swinney.
The center position in 2019 was handled by two seniors, Sean Pollard and Gage Cervenka. Those guys are gone. The most important guy on the offensive line–and the second most important offensive player, behind the quarterback– is the man in the middle; the center. The center is the guy who puts the skill players in position to make plays as well as making the line calls to insure they are all in sync.
“You know last year going into it, it was either Pollard or Gage, so it was kind of fluid with those two guys, and then Pollard solidified it. Naturally you would think that Cade being the most veteran guy has actually played and even started at that position that he would be the guy. Maybe one of these other guys will stand up and Cade may be better suited for a guard position. That’s what spring is all about, figuring out as many guys as we can get snapping the ball. We will know by the end of the spring who steps up” — OC Tony Elliott.
The second group off the bench is going to be the dogfight to watch in the spring. This group will consist of Hunter Rayburn, Chandler Reeves, Mason Trotter, Kaleb Boateng, and Blake Vinson. The 2020 recruiting class will bring in six new OL to throw in there. Three of the six are early enrollees and will battle for that second group; Paul Tchio (#57), Mitchell Mayes (#77) and Bry Tucker (#73). Pay attention to these guys in the spring game.
“Our second group right now is all freshmen. The defense doesn’t really slow down. It’s a challenge, we got the right guys. They are kind of getting a baptism right now. We love the guys we got, and we got a lot of teaching and a lot of coaching to do.” — Coach Swinney.
Due to the return of the 2-deep defensive line and in the influx of four highly rated freshmen, Tayquon Johnson has made the move to offensive line. At 6-2 320, Johnson has the size but lacks the experience. Watch #52 in the spring and see what he brings to the table.
The beginning of fall practice will bring in three more offensive linemen to the fray. Walker Parks, John Williams and late signee ex-GT commitment Trent Howard out of Alabama.
The offensive line is in good hands for the future with just this class alone. As the saying goes, games are won and lost in the trenches. Watch the OL in the spring game. It’s going to be a battle as they go against a very talented defensive line on the other side.