Making the grade: Clemson’s O-Line was inconsistent in 2020

Making the grade: Clemson’s O-Line was inconsistent in 2020

Football

Making the grade: Clemson’s O-Line was inconsistent in 2020

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Heading into the season, everyone knew Clemson would likely have a drop off on the offensive line in 2020. After all, the Tigers had to replace four starters from the year before.

However, no one expected the drop off to be as big as it turned out.

To say Clemson’s offensive line struggled in 2020 was an understatement. At times, the Tigers were just bad.

There were some good moments too, like the Tigers’ 219-yard rushing performance against Notre Dame in the ACC Championship Game, but for the most part the offensive line was inconsistent with its performances.

Clemson rushed for just 200 yards in a game just three times all season, and not once did it run for 300 yards in a game. The Tigers averaged just 153.8 yards per game on the ground, which ranked 11th in the ACC, behind teams like Florida State, Wake Forest and Duke.

In 2019, Clemson was second in the ACC in rushing, averaging 240.4 yards per game. The Tigers averaged 6.4 yards per carry, which led the league. This past season, they averaged 4.5 yards per carry, nearly a decline of two yards per carry.

The worst games for Clemson came in both losses. Notre Dame held the Tigers to 34 yards on 33 carries on Nov. 7, while Ohio State held them to 44 yards on 22 carries. Clemson struggled in both games to pick up a yard in short-yardage situations.

But it was not all bad for the offensive line. Clemson did tie Virginia for the ACC lead with the fewest sacks allowed (20), while leading the conference in average allowed. They gave up just 1.7 sacks per game. The only ACC team to allow less than 2.0 per game.

Left tackle Jackson Carman, who declared for the NFL Draft last week, was voted second team All-ACC, along with left guard Matt Bockhorst. Right tackle Jordan McFadden and right guard Will Putnam were honorable mention selections on the All-ACC team.

Clemson also lacked depth along the front. The young players struggled, which is expected in most cases when thrown into the fire in FBS football. However, learning from those experiences, along with a good recruiting class and possibly four starters returning, 2021 should be a much better year for the offensive line as a whole.

Grade: C

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