Two years ago, Clemson had one of the best offensive lines in the country. Two years later, college football people wonder if the Tigers can get back there.
The 2020 season was a down year for Clemson along its offensive front. They struggled at times to establish the line of scrimmage. A lot of that can be blamed on youth and a lack of experienced depth.
Everything Dabo Swinney and his staff did in the spring and will do again when fall camp starts in August is to make sure their players keep their edge, which they felt they lost last year in big games against Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Having an edge or a chip on their shoulder is partly responsible for the Tigers rise as one of college football’s elite programs. They used their edge to win two national championships and six straight ACC Championships.
“Just really just trying to compete like we need to and creating that edge that we need,” Swinney said this past spring. “It is just a very competitive thing. When you have good-on-good like we do, you are going to lose some, and you are going to win some. All in all, we are making some strides. It is encouraging.”
Because there are a lot of young players on this year’s team, Swinney feels it is important to expose them to what it is like at the college level.
“They are battling and that is all you can ask for,” Swinney said. “So, we got the right guys. I think by the time we get to September… That is what I am more encouraged about than anything.”
In the spring of 2020, because of COVID-19, the Tigers lost their last six spring practices, they did not get a summer. The area it hit the most was the youngest area on the team – the offensive line.
“We really, most games, felt like we could play six guys. The year before, we could play eleven. And the year before that we could play eleven,” Swinney said. “It makes a difference, especially over the long haul of a season.
“I think by the time we get to September. I think we will be back in that nine, ten, eleven guys that will not just be able to play but go play winning football for the Tigers. So, I am encouraged. We got a long way to go, but I am encouraged.”
Clemson opens the season on Sept. 4 against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
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