Feels good not worrying about the offensive line……
Not so long ago, one of the common worries going into every football season for Tiger fans was the offensive line. How there just wasn’t enough talent, or there just wasn’t enough depth, or a combination of the two. Even going into the 2018 season there were questions about certain areas along the line.
Headed into the 2019 season, and on the heels of a national title to cap off a perfect 2018, the offensive line doesn’t seem to be a concern. That’s despite the fact that the Tigers must replace Mitch Hyatt, the guy that anchored the ever important left tackle position the past four seasons.
Going back over the 2018 season, there were some struggles in pass protection with this group, particularly along the right side. As the season wore on, the unit played better however, culminating in the 44-16 win over Alabama, a game in which the offensive line pretty much had its way with the stout Bama front four.
As we head into 2019, the question is will this group be better or will they take a step back. Along with losing Hyatt, the group also loses starting center Justin Falcinelli.
Taking over for Hyatt will be the number one tackle of the 2018 class Jackson Carman. After getting his feet wet as a freshman, Carman is set to step into the LT role full time. After spending the past year learning the offense, working on his technique, and getting his weight where it needs to be, it seems as if Carman is ready to roll. He has first round potential and could possibly be the most dominant LT the Tigers have ever had.
Replacing Falcinelli will be Sean Pollard. The rising senior has played both RT and RG during his time at Clemson, but spent most of last season playing RG. The center is arguably the most important position on the line, as he’s responsible for making a lot of the pass protection calls, so how good this line eventually is, could hinge on how well Pollard makes the transition. The staff spends a lot of time cross training these guys and by all accounts Pollard performed very well during the spring. Pollard might also be a guy that evolves into one of the leaders on the offensive side of the ball.
Gage Cervenka, who split time with Pollard last season, will now be the full time RG. The fifth year senior started eight games last season and logged well over 500 snaps. He brings plenty of experience, not to mention that toughness, with him every time he steps onto the field.
Tremayne Anchrum returns as the Tigers RG. He earned 2nd Team All ACC honors last season, starting in all 15 games. The rising senior was on the field for over 800 snaps and is well versed in playing his position.
John Simpson, the Tigers star of ACC Media Days, returns at LG. He’s another rising senior that earned 2nd Team All ACC honors after starting all 15 games and logging over 800 snaps.
As you can see, outside of sophomore Jackson Carman, this is a very experienced group, and it’s not like Carman is that inexperienced. He saw action in all but two games, and played over 200 snaps himself. There’s even some depth, and some talented depth at that, as evidenced by the summer depth chart released last week.
This group could be one of the better offensive lines in the nation. Cohesiveness shouldn’t be much of an issue, so no need in worrying about them needing time to gel. The only thing this group is lacking is a cool nickname.