Clemson Season Review: Offensive Line

Entering the 2021 season, the Tigers offensive line was expected to be a lot better, and deeper, as the coaching staff, thought they had made big strides.

After the first game of the season against Georgia that thought began to be questioned and rightfully so seeing as the Clemson offense had only 180 total yards, and just two yards rushing. Saying they looked mediocre at best would be very polite.

This group was inconsistent to say the least. Especially, the first half of the season. After the bye week they seemed to play better and it showed with a 7-1 record that included a win over Wake Forest who was ranked 10th at the time and Iowa State in the Cheez-It bowl.

This was another unit that endured it’s share of injuries. Over the first nine games the Tigers had a different starting offensive line six times. There was little to no chance for them to gel.

The Tigers also came out of the gate having to start Matt Bockhorst at center. With Mason Trotter injured and the staff not having seen enough from Hunter Rayburn in fall camp to award him the job, Bockhorst was forced into action. The results were not pretty.

Trotter missed the first five games of the season with a broken hand. He was able to return from that injury after the open date and was a big part of why Clemson was able to end the season on a winning note. However, he is still undersized for a center.

Two bright spots for the Tigers were Jordan McFadden and Walker Parks. McFadden had a great 2021 season as he transitioned from right tackle to left tackle, replacing Jackson Carman, who is playing in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

McFadden didn’t miss a beat and is considered one of the best tackles in the ACC. His return for 2022 will go a long way in helping Clemson’s offense. Parks, on the other hand, became a consistent starter at right tackle. He didn’t have the year that McFadden did but he did prove that he is a quality starter.

Then you have Marcus Tate who became only the third true freshman offensive linemen since 1973 to start a season opener for Clemson and it showed. With Bockhorst having to move to center, Tate opened the season at LG and didn’t look good early in the opener against Georgia. This is where a lack of depth became evident and hurt the Tigers. However, the more he played, the better he got. His future is bright.

One thing that is going to be a must for this position group in 2022 will be finding out who will be playing along the interior. On the bright side though, when you add together that this group was young, they played better at the end of the season, and every starter in the bowl game returns, along with Trotter, it gives a lot of encouragement for the future.

Clemson also gets Ryan Linthicum and Tristan Leigh off of their redshirt seasons along with four star signees Collin Sadler and Blake Miller. And don’t be surprised to see the staff bring in a transfer offensive linemen to start at center next season as a stopgap until Linthicum is ready.

2021 Season Grade: C-

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