After a one-point loss to Pittsburgh in the final seconds of Saturday’s game, it was hard to find many bright spots for Clemson.
If you look closely there are reasons for optimism in a season where the College Football Playoff is in a jumble now that Michigan and Washington followed Clemson with losses of their own.
The Tigers’ run game was nothing to get excited about, but the offensive line protected Deshaun Watson well, only allowing two sacks on 70 pass attempts.
True freshman Tremayne Anchrum was a big part of the offensive line’s success, in pass protection and he said they don’t take their responsibility lightly.
“We take pride in protecting our quarterback,” said Anchrum, who came off the bench to play a good bit at left tackle after starter Mitch Hyatt sprained his foot. “He’s the heart of our offense and he trusts us to protect him.”
What makes Anchrum’s emergence even more impressive is the fact that he has switched between right and left tackle.
“The biggest difference is probably balance” he said, “you have to flip everything, so once you learn something and it’s kind of a reflex, now you have to pause and flip it.”
Adding on to the switch from right to left tackle is that Anchrum came into the season expecting to redshirt or receive minimal playing time.
“When I first came in I didn’t think I would be starting or playing as much as I have,” he said. “I knew my skill capabilities and that they may or may not need me and I always prepare that way.”
With Mitch Hyatt questionable for Saturday’s game against Wake Forest, Anchrum could be in line for more playing time.
After playing most of the game against Pittsburgh, as well as receiving playing time in several other key games, the freshman’s experience is valuable going into the final stretch of the season.
“I’ve been in a game now, I’ve been in the longevity of four quarters and now I know how to train and prepare for the upcoming games,” he said, “I’ve felt myself making strides in my mental game, just taking it play by play and day by day.”
Anchrum’s surge isn’t the only reason that the Tigers should be optimistic going into playoff crunch time. He thinks that the pain of the loss to Pittsburgh will help Clemson prepare for the remainder of the season.
“I felt like we all understood that it was needed, that we need to understand the pain of the loss so when we get into that situation we know that pain and we don’t want to feel it again,” said Anchrum.
Even after two other top four teams fell this past weekend, Anchrum says that Clemson needs to focus on Clemson.
“Given that Michigan lost and all of the other teams lost…it does affect us in the grand picture, but it doesn’t affect us because we know what we need to do, and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be were we want to be” he said.
Regardless of what happens to the other teams in playoff contention, Anchrum says Clemson has to focus on this week and prepare for a Wake Forest squad that held Louisville to three points in the first half last week.
“They’re a pretty active defense…we’re definitely going to have to prepare for the level of talent they have over there” he said.