Clemson featured an offense with the best running back in ACC history last season, but not even Travis Etienne could mask all the deficiencies Clemson had up front last season.
Offensive line play was inconsistent for the Tigers in 2020, and even that might be a little generous.
Despite having to replace four starters along the offensive line, head coach Dabo Swinney raved about the group throughout last spring and fall camp. However, for whatever reason, the group could just never put it altogether and things did not go as planned.
As the team opens spring practice on Wednesday, there are a lot of questions about what the group might look like next season. With Cade Stewart and Jackson Carman leaving, that leaves two spots up for grabs.
Mason Trotter would seem to be the heir apparent to take over for Stewart, but freshman Ryan Linthicum, who was the number one center in the last recruiting class, is enrolling early. While he may need a year before he’s ready to start, he can most certainly push Trotter. He needs to. Competition makes everyone better.
As for who will step in at left tackle, that remains to be seen, although it’s almost certain it will be Jordan McFadden or Walker Parks.
McFadden played on the right side last season, but could slide over and play left tackle in 2021. But don’t rule out Parks being the guy either. It should make for an interesting spring and summer.
Matt Bockhorst and Will Putnam will both be back. However, Putman was inconsistent in his first season as a starter and he will have to fight to hold onto the job at right guard. The Tigers have been recruiting much better offensive linemen in the last couple of years and there is some talent behind him that could push him for the job.
One thing is certain, if the Tigers are to regain national championship form, the offensive line play must improve. The first step in that process begins on Wednesday.