By Heath Bradley.
Center Dalton Freeman is impressed with the improvement of the young offensive linemen this fall. The current starter at center has spent much of this fall taking fewer reps, helping the coaches get younger players as well as his backup ready for the 2012 season.
According to Freeman, the coaches threw a lot of different situations at the team in the scrimmage this morning. “We started out first down, played second down, third down, short yardage. We did two-minute, a little bit of everything.” Less than three weeks from kickoff it is important for the coaches to put the players in stressful situations to test there physical and mental abilities.
After a first scrimmage that saw the offense and the offensive line struggle in short yardage situations, Freeman felt the offense did a much better job overall. “We did much better. We had a really good day offensively. We turned the ball over in some critical situations and had a few stupid penalties, but overall I thought it was a much better day.” While the offense had some turnovers and penalties, the running game was much better today, including two long touchdown runs from Rod McDowell.
Building quality depth is a big part of this fall camp for the offensive line. The past few practices have seen Freeman take fewer snaps so that his backup can gain more experience. With the opening game so close, the time for Freeman to increase his snap numbers seems to be now, and if today’s scrimmage was any indication, that is currently taking place.
“ I think I went every time except one roll. Ryan Norton is doing a great job stepping in there, trying to get him ready. We did a lot of rotating actually, with our left guard. I think we started with Ryan Norton in there at left guard, Kalon Davis was in there with the two, Beasley moved up. We did a lot of mixing and matching trying to find our best five guys,” Freeman told TheClemsonInsider.com
Finding the best five for the job will be key, but as important finding the best five is, finding people who can rotate in and provide depth is just as important. This is why you are seeing rotation at multiple positions, allowing players to work with each team to see who offers the best available option.
While there was talk of Freeman moving to right tackle to replace injured Giff Timothy, Freeman seems very impressed with the improvement Joe Gore is showing at right tackle. “Joe is getting better everyday. Experience is something that you cannot coach. All of these lives reps, especially going against a great player like Malliciah Goodman is really helping him out. “ With Gore improving daily, this will hopefully allow Freeman to stay at his natural position of center, where he plays a key role in the tempo of the offense and the protection of Tajh Boyd.