Inconsistencies across the offensive line culminated in a disappointing end to Clemson’s 2020 campaign.
Heading into the 2021 season, while the offensive line isn’t a position of concern, it’s certainly a group worth monitoring as the season progresses.
Even before the start of the season, Dabo Swinney and Co. have been adamant about finding the best five players across the board. That’s seen players like Matt Bockhorst cross-train at multiple positions throughout spring practice and the duration of fall camp.
Bockhorst started all 12 games for the Tigers last season, seeing a lion-share of his 753 snaps at left guard. Now, the fifth-year senior could be snapping the ball to D.J. Uiagalelei come Sept. 4 against Georgia.
Speaking with reporters during Thursday’s media availability, Swinney agreed that it was “absolutely” beneficial for Bockhorst’s draft stock and the team for him to make the transition to center.
Though, he was merely echoing the same sentiments that Bockhorst made on Tuesday, during his session with reporters.
Swinney acknowledged that Clemson has had Bockhorst do a lot of snapping over the past three years, the Tigers just haven’t played him a ton at the. center position.
“He’s worked it forever,” Swinney said. “There’s a lot of guys that have done that, but there’s no doubt for him, to be able to demonstrate because he’s going to have to play center and guard. For him to demonstrate that he can do that, it’ll definitely benefit him because now you’re a three-position guy, instead of just a guard. He’s certainly got the mentality. He’s got the intelligence that you need. He’ll play both (guard and center) throughout the season for sure.”
Swinney was then asked about Clemson’s offensive line depth, which has also been a storyline worth monitoring. Reserve offensive lineman Tayquon Johnson underwent surgery earlier this month after tearing his pectoral muscle, additionally, Swinney announced that John Williams will be out for the season after also undergoing surgery.
Even with that, Swinney’s seemingly confident in the group Clemson will head into the season with.
“I think we have nine guys today that I feel good about,” he said. “I think we’re very functional, I think we’re there at 10-11.”
Swinney said that the Tigers have a No. 10 guy that’s right there. He’s not quite ready for where they want him to be for the Georgia game, but he’s right there. Swinney added that the No. 11 guy is also “pretty close too.”
He reiterated that he feels “pretty good” about the depth of the group heading into next Saturday’s matchup against Georgia.