Sophomore tackle Walker Parks didn’t mince words last week when discussing the play of Clemson’s offensive line last season, saying, “It pisses me off and it pisses the other guys off, too.”
Following the Tigers’ spring practice on Monday, fifth-year senior guard Matt Bockhorst was asked if that is how the entire unit feels about its performance in 2020.
“It should be,” he answered.
Bockhorst has heard the criticism from fans and others regarding Clemson’s offensive line and feels the unit deserves some of the heat it has taken for how it played a year ago.
“Obviously, I think that’s kind of a widely known sentiment that people have been somewhat critical of the offensive line play over the past season, and as Walker mentioned, I would say some of that is definitely warranted,” he said.
A second-team All-ACC selection in 2020 who started all 12 of Clemson’s games at left guard, Bockhorst admitted he was frustrated when he went back and turned on the tape from last season.
“I’ve had the chance to go look back at the film throughout the season,” he said. “I think we started off well. If you look at the first couple games, including the Miami game, I think we did very well – communication and all those things – and then throughout the season, it just becomes very inconsistent. Obviously, Notre Dame was a tale of two games. We came out and played very well in the run game against Pittsburgh, and then maybe not so well against Ohio State. So, it’s definitely frustrating for me.”
As one of the veteran leaders of Clemson’s O-line, Bockhorst is taking it upon himself to put in the work he needs to improve while helping the younger offensive linemen get better as well.
“As an older guy, I put a lot of time and effort into this, and it’s something that matters to me,” he said. “I care about it and I take pride in it, and I know that every day I’m working to make sure that I get better and correct the things that need to be corrected and also bring along the young guys so that we do have the support and maybe some more depth that we didn’t have last year.”
Bockhorst isn’t making any excuses for Clemson’s offense line, though, and knows how good the offense and team is this coming season will be determined in large part by how much improvement the O-line shows.
“At the end of the day, it would be very easy for me to say, ‘Well, we didn’t have the depth’ or ‘we didn’t have a full offseason’ or ‘I wasn’t healthy’ and point to those reasons as to why we maybe didn’t play as well as we should have,” Bockhorst said. “But at the end of the day, that doesn’t really matter what the reason is, what’s a legitimate reason and what’s not.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t play as well as we were capable of playing, as well as we were required to play. So, moving forward, we’re really trying to instill a mindset that we need to get better, and the team’s only going to go as far as we’re going to take them, and obviously that was evident this past season, obviously not finishing where we wanted to finish.”
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