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Austin believes depth in the offensive line is ‘trending in the right direction’

Matt Mynes // Photo Editor

The Clemson offensive lines up during 2023 spring practice.

For the past two seasons, the Clemson offensive line has not carried the same weight as it once did.

In a post-practice press conference, offensive line coach Thomas Austin spoke to the media on how adjustments to the new offense are going.

“Last year, we played five guys pretty much the entire season,” Austin said. “We had four guys close to 1,000 reps (by the end of the season), and in our best years around here, we’ve had eight to ten guys that we feel like could go out there and play for us. So, I feel like we’re trending in the right direction.”

Austin also believes that the new offensive system has allowed for more competition within the line. Because all players, veteran and novice, are learning the new offense for the first time, it is a race of who can adjust the quickest.

“I think we are feeling more and more confident about creating some competitive depth,” Austin said. “We’ve always had great competition against our defensive line, and we’ve always had great players, and now, as we are getting more competitive depth in the O-line, that creates even more competition.”

Although the Tigers lost key lineman Jordan McFadden, there are still multiple starters returning, allowing for a more competitive O-line than what we have seen in previous years.

Austin describes it as “certainly invaluable” to have players with experience back, such as graduate Will Putnam and junior Marcus Tate.

“The biggest thing is the menu that we are carrying into a practice, to a scrimmage and all that, is smaller,” Austin said. “When you are carrying out less formations. I think you can coach up some of the details and the looks that you are expecting a defense to give you with a little bit more precision and accuracy.”

Under new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley’s structure, the Tigers are hopeful to see development and depth that matches the strength of the established defensive line.

Along with an updated offensive line, Riley has implemented other tactics to help improve the overall offense. When September rolls around, Riley will be on the sideline with the team rather than in the press box, and since he will be with the players, he will not be using emoji boards to signal plays.

The Tigers totaled 3,253 passing yards in their 2022 season, compared to past seasons, such as 4,182 yards in 2020. A new offense must be advanced enough to bring back the infamous “Wide Receiver U” that Clemson football was once known for a few years ago.

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Anne Marie Lessig
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