One of the mottos amongst Clemson’s offensive line is that its performance in any given game “is never as good as it seems, and it’s never as bad as it seems.”
Well, Clemson’s performance up front against Georgia Tech last week wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed on paper. In fact, according to center Jay Guillermo, it wasn’t bad at all.
“Things that we can still improve on, but I was really happy,” Guillermo said of his unit on Tuesday. “Tyrone (Crowder) graded out a 95, I graded out a 93 and no one graded out below an 88, I believe. So, pretty good.”
Clemson rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 34 attempts against the Yellow Jackets. Wayne Gallman was held to just 59 yards on 17 carries, though he did score on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Guillermo said the numbers don’t tell the whole story, though.
“I felt like in the last game, we actually made a lot of improvement,” Guillermo said. “There were several times, if you go back and watch it, we were knocking them off the ball two or three yards. So, anyone that tries to say there wasn’t much push this last game, they must not have been watching the football game.”
Clemson’s goal each week is to rush for 200 yards, as it did in 11 different games last season. Through the first four games of this season, Clemson has reached that mark only once, against South Carolina State in Week 3.
However, it’s not due to poor play along the offensive line. More of it has to do with the looks opposing defenses are showing the offense.
Teams have often stacked the box against Clemson, and like always, the Tigers are just taking what the defense gives them. If teams want to load up to stop the run, Clemson has no problem airing it out.
“I feel like with our offense, it’s a pick your poison type deal,” Guillermo said. “It’s either, well, we can stop the run, or we can stop the pass, so which way do you want to go?
“That’s really good about our offense, and I feel like throughout the season that’ll really start to work in our favor.”
Things won’t be any easier for Clemson’s offensive line against Louisville on Saturday night in Death Valley. Louisville enters the game having allowed only 278 yards per game, the 13 best mark in the country, while the Cardinals have recorded the seventh-most sacks with 15.
Guillermo said Louisville does a lot of different things in its scheme and is very disruptive with the front seven.
“They do a lot of different things that can hurt you scheme-wise, so we have to be careful this week,” Guillermo said. “Just picking up everything and having a sense of urgency to knowing the down and the situation, what they tend to do on different downs and situations. I think that with our preparation, we’ll be fine.”
Clemson’s offensive line has faced challenges in the early going, and Louisville’s defense will arguably be the biggest challenge yet.
Heading into the matchup, Guillermo feels good about where his unit is.
“I feel like where we are this year is actually a little bit beyond where we were this time last year,” Guillermo said. “Especially because we know what we have, as well. I’m excited to see us continue to grow and get more gelled as the season goes.”