When Clemson and Georgia kick off the season a week from Saturday, it is a game that will be won in the trenches.
Yes, that sounds cliché, but in this top 5 matchup, it has never been truer. The fifth-ranked Bulldogs have what is arguably one of the best offensive and defensive line combos in the SEC.
Though the offensive line is a question mark for No. 3 Clemson, the defensive line is considered to be the best in all of college football. So, it is safe to say this will be one of the more physical games this season.
Heading into the Duke’s Mayo Kickoff Classic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, most wonder if the Tigers can handle Georgia’s defensive front, especially nose tackle Jordan Davis. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound senior is projected to be an All-American and can really cause havoc up front.
Davis will team up with fellow senior Devonte Wyatt. He is just a small guy at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney says Georgia’s defensive line is the strength of their defense, much like his defense, as he pointed out the Bulldogs have led the nation in rushing defense in each of the last two seasons.
The opposition averaged just 72.3 yards per game in 2020 and 2.39 yards per carry, which also ranked first nationally.
On the other side, Clemson has a new starter at left tackle, right tackle and center. Jordan McFadden, who started all last year at right tackle, will get the start at left, while sophomore Walker Parks is the new guy at right tackle.
Who the starting center will be is still in question?
Though Swinney will not say it, it appears Matt Bockhorst might be the guy after moving over from left guard. If Bockhorst is the new center, then it means the Tigers will have a new left guard, as well. Freshman Marcus Tate appears to be the likely candidate there.
Going up against a Georgia defensive front that has three seniors and a junior, is going to be a tall task for what looks like a patch-work offensive line for Clemson.
The good news for the Tigers’ new line is the fact they have been going against their own defensive front the last three weeks, so they will be ready for the physicality Davis and company are going to bring.
“Going against the defense we have, we get to go against really good players,” Bockhorst said. “So, it is really nice to be challenged in that fashion early on, so we are not rolling out there against Georgia and kind of having our hands full because we have never seen someone of that caliber.”