For the most part, especially when they want to, Clemson’s offensive line has dominated its opposition in the first three weeks of the season.
The Tigers rushed for 411 yards in a Week 1 win over Georgia Tech, while this past week Syracuse’s NFL caliber defensive ends (Alton Robinson and Kendall Coleman) did not even come close to touching quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
In fact, Clemson, who will host Charlotte on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at Death Valley, has allowed just two sacks thus far this season. The Orange came into last week’s game with nine sacks through the first two weeks of the year and left the game still clinging to nine.
“They have been outstanding. I am just super, super proud of our O-line,” head coach Dabo Swinney said. “I mean physical. Bodies all over the ground. They’re not a lot of bust. They’re doing a great job communicating.”
The Tigers (3-0, 2-0 ACC) are averaging 251.0 yards/game on the ground and 6.8 yards per carry. Their 9 rushing touchdowns currently lead the ACC.
“Just their energy and their effort, they have been outstanding,” Swinney said. “They have been up to the task every week. They are protecting our quarterback. We have had no sacks this week and maybe have had two to this point. I’m just really proud of them.
“It is just a very close group. I am very, very pleased with that offensive line.”
It has been a dominate group, too. Swinney likes the physicality of the unit and he likes the fact they are always prepared and take the time to watch and study film on their own.
“They love the challenge and they love to prepare, too. This group, they are in their watching tape all the time. They love to prepare,” he said. “That is just the great leadership that we have. They are serious about playing well. They take a lot of pride in their performance.
“Great leadership. (Tremayne) Anchrum is one of the best leaders we have ever had here. Gage (Cervenka) the same thing. John (Simpson) the same thing. (Sean) Pollard the same thing. All four of those guys are just great leaders. It is a really close group,” Swinney said.
Swinney says sophomore left tackle Jackson Carman has fit right in with those four seniors and has really solidified the unit as a whole.
“The question coming in was would Jackson mature and get serious about being a great player and take the next step in his development, and he has,” the Clemson coach said. “He is just a really high IQ guy and is really just a smart football player. But just his buy-in has been impressive to watch. To see him jump right in there and he has got excited about being a great offensive lineman.
“I just think he has really set his mind to being a really great player. He is very coachable. He has an unbelievable effort. He is chasing guys down the field. He is having fun and it is a lot of fun to watch that kid. He is a special talent. That is why he was one of the top players coming out (of high school). He got serious about it and has become a very good football player.”