Clemson’s offensive line is looking for a bounceback performance this fall with some new faces in some new places.
There’s one position up front in particular that has caught the eye of head coach Dabo Swinney.
The Tigers return four starters along the offensive line from last season, though not all of them are manning the same spots. Walker Parks is set to move inside to guard with freshman Blake Miller’s emergence at right tackle, and Will Putnam is moving from guard to center after the Tigers lost their top three centers from last season.
Center is arguably the most important position up front given the position can be responsible for everything from setting protections to making checks to getting each play started with a good snap, the latter of which Swinney said Putnam has done most of the time since the spring.
Asked recently if there still have been no bad snaps from Putnam during camp, Swinney was trying to find some wood to knock on.
“He’s been excellent. Don’t jinx him,” Swinney said. “He’s been really, really good.”
In fact, Swinney said he’s been pleased with all of the Tigers’ centers leading up to Monday’s season opener against Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Sophomore Trent Howard and redshirt freshman Ryan Linthicum are next up at the position and are both listed on the two-deep of Clemson’s first depth chart of the season.
“All three of our centers have done a nice job,” Swinney said. “This is rare. Usually you get into some of these dog days, you get tired and somebody is hot and sweaty, they’ll roll a ball back every now and then on an A-gap blitz or something. But I think it’s just a sign of how hard they’ve worked this summer because that’s the type of stuff that you get done in the summer. That’s summer skills and drills. That’s putting the work in when nobody’s watching.”
Swinney said the group has been steady throughout the preseason.
“I’m really proud of our centers, and I’m super proud of Putnam because he’s solid as they come,” Swinney said.
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