Clemson and Georgia are set to do battle on Saturday night in a battle of top-five teams in Charlotte.
The Tigers are coming off of a pretty humbling performance in their 49-28 loss to Ohio State in last year’s Sugar Bowl. Clemson was beaten on the lines of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, and beaten rather convincingly.
The Tigers get a chance to wash that sour taste out of their mouths right out of the gate this season. Georgia, like them or not, is a team with elite talent along the offensive and defensive lines.
Clemson has elite talent along the defensive line, and probably as much talent as they’ve ever had under Dabo Swinney along the offensive line. Everywhere except at center, of course. And that is where this game will be won or lost for the Tigers.
The coaching staff still hasn’t announced a starting center, although the school did put out a depth chart on Monday that listed Mason Trotter or Hunter Rayburn as the starter. We also know Matt Bockhorst has been repping there.
Since the beginning of spring practice the coaches have maintained that they want to get the best five guys on the field and on Tuesday offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said the team has nine guys who he thinks they can win with, and therein lies the biggest key to a Clemson victory.
The Tigers must absolutely be able to establish some sort of a running game. At least enough of one that can keep the Georgia defense honest. Whether it comes between the tackles, on the perimeter or with screens behind the line of scrimmage, the Tigers must get the Dawgs to respect the threat and not allow them to be able to pin their ears back and come after D.J. Uiagalelei.
Between Lyn-J Dixon, Kobe Pace, and freshman sensation Will Shipley, this Clemson team has the running backs capable of doing some damage. Now it’s up to the offensive line to give them room to work.
If they can do that, Clemson wins this game. If not, all bets are off.
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