It’s been said over and over again, but Georgia Tech showed Clemson a bunch of looks that the Tigers weren’t expecting.
Clemson had to adjust.
But, it’s easier said than done for veteran offensive linemen, who’ve been there, done that. Not so much for a true freshman experiencing the first conference matchup of his collegiate career.
That was apparent last Saturday for Marcus Tate, who struggled to deal with Georgia Tech’s interior front during Clemson’s 14-8 win over the Yellow Jackets.
On Monday, Tate’s teammates and coaches came to his defense. The Tigers touted their offensive line depth coming out of fall camp, but they haven’t exactly had the opportunities to utilize it, which left Tate in a sink or swim situation Saturday.
“In fairness to Marcus, that’s tough on a freshman,” Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. “You go in, you prepare all week and then you get into the game and you’re looking at something that you hadn’t seen. We’re on the sideline, we’re able to make adjustments with some of the older guys, so it was a little bit tough on him. We got to help him with trying to find some more depth at that left guard position to help him in some situations.”
Matt Bockhorst, who was fiery as can be on Saturday and then peeled back the curtain a bit further Monday, echoed Eliott’s sentiment.
“Obviously, Marcus Tate is in there as a true freshman,” Bockhorst said. “He’s a young guy, he’s got a lot to learn. He’s gonna be a very good player and you know what? I’m not sure many other true freshmen could do what he’s doing, regardless of the mistakes he’s making.”
Jordan McFadden was asked about how hard it is for a true freshman like Tate to be thrust into the fire in a big conference matchup like that.
“It’s absolutely tough for him,” McFadden said. “Being a freshman, being in that position in a big game. It’s definitely gotta be stressful, it’s gotta be hard. I’m super confident in him. He puts in the work. He’s out here asking questions, he’s watching film on his own, watching film with me, different things like that. As challenging as it is for him, I know that he cares so much, that’s he trying to learn, grow and get better.”
Bockhorst was asked about his view of the collective offensive line coming into the season and why things may not be going the way they want. The effort is there, but there are minute details, like communication that just haven’t been there, when the Tigers need it to be.
It’s worth mentioning that both Bockhorst and McFadden have changed positions since last season, going from left guard to center and right tackle to left tackle, respectively. Tate is obviously in there as a true freshman, while Will Putnam and Walker Parks have experience, but not as vast as the other veterans on the line.
“First off, you have a lot of guys at different positions, myself included,” Bockhorst said. “You got a true freshman there at left guard, who is gonna be a great player like I said. Marcus is gonna be a very, very good player. There’s just a lot of things to learn as a true freshman. To go and play offensive line as a true freshman is really, really hard.”