Everybody talks about Clemson’s defensive line, and deservedly so.
The Tigers have perhaps the best defensive line on the country with All-Americans Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Dexter Lawrence up front. However, can the offensive line be just as good? Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney thinks so.
Swinney says his first-team offensive line, consisting of All-American left tackle Mitch Hyatt, left guard John Simpson, All-ACC center Justin Falcinelli, right guard Sean Pollard and right tackle Tremayne Anchrum, is the strength of the Clemson offense.
“That is one area where I am really encouraged, especially with what I saw on Saturday,” he said.
What Swinney saw last Saturday was a unit that allowed just one sack in the 106-play scrimmage.
“They blocked well. They protected well. (The offense) had zero turnovers,” he said. “The first group especially, we really developed some versatility up front, so I like what I am seeing from a lot of those guys.
“I think that is the strength on our (offensive) team. Just like the D-Line is our strength, the offensive line is a strength for us and I am excited about it.”
Swinney not surprised by Ross. Swinney said the one-handed catch by freshman Justyn Ross in last Saturday’s scrimmage did not surprise him. Why?
“That is what he did in high school. He made plays like that all the time,” Swinney said.
In case you missed the play that went viral over the weekend and made SportsCenter’s top 10 plays on Saturday, the 6-foot-4, 207-pound receiver jumped up off balance, while turning and snaring a pass from Trevor Lawrence with his right hand before coming down and gaining additional yards.
“You make a play like that and everybody goes, ‘Oh my God! He has to be in there on every snap.’ But, there is a lot you have to do,” Swinney said. “He is still a freshman. He still makes mistakes and he still has to become a more complete player. But, that is just gift. He is incredibly blessed when it comes to his ball skills.
“The other thing is he is an effort guy. He has a motor. He plays at a full speed tilt and when he makes a mistake, he usually does not repeat it. He is very coachable so I am really pleased with him. It was awesome to see him, in that setting, finish some of those plays. That is great for his confidence and all of those things.”
Defense looked better. No real surprise, but the defense bounced back from Saturday’s scrimmage and had a much better day in Monday afternoon’s practice.
Swinney said it was not like the whole scrimmage on Saturday was bad for the unit. The Clemson coach said the defense did some good things, too.
“Oh yeah, they take a lot of pride in what they do,” Swinney said. “Watching the tape, there was a lot of good defensively. They just couldn’t stay in sync. When they’d get a stop they’d get a penalty.”
Injury update. Swinney reported freshman defensive back Mario Goodrich (groin) was wearing a green jersey in Monday’s practice meaning he could participate in individual drills, but no hitting drills.
Wide receiver Trevion Thompson did not practice after being injured in last Saturday’s scrimmage. However, he was doing better Swinney said.
Defensive end Richard Yeargin again missed practice. Swinney said the senior has a stinger in his shoulder and went to see the doctor on Monday, but he did not have a report from the visit as of Monday night.
Clemson will have a situational scrimmage at Death Valley this morning and then will have a 50-minute walk through this evening.