Caldwell looking to replace four starters on the offensive line
|Sunday, January 19, 2020, 10:10 AM- -|
Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has a tall task in the spring as he begins the process of replacing four veteran starters and a key reserve on the line.
Gone are starting center Sean Pollard, right guard Gage Cervenka, left guard John Simpson, and right tackle Tremayne Anchrum and reserve Chandler Reeves. That quintet combined for 3,265 snaps last season.
Starting left tackle Jackson Carman is back, along with Matt Bockhorst, who almost played starter’s snaps with 421. They are joined by Blake Vinson (34 snaps before knee surgery), Will Putnam, Cade Stewart, and Jordan McFadden to form the nucleus of next year’s offensive line. That group combined for a solid 2,051 snaps during the 2019 season.
Caldwell said he is going to miss seniors but is also looking forward to the challenge of rebuilding the line.
“It's a double-edged sword. I am going to miss them because of the people they are and the personalities they have. I just love them,” Caldwell said. “When Tremayne Anchrum speaks it's like an adult when he speaks to the media. They listen and they've bought in and they've done things. Gage Cervenka can play anywhere in the middle, Sean Pollard can play any position and they are just very, very solid and very versatile. And then, like my wife says, John Simpson has the sweetest smile of anybody you would want to meet. Of course, Chandler Reeves is going on and getting in the business world and getting engaged to be married, so we are excited for him. A very good group.”
Caldwell said he thinks Vinson will be ready to go.
“Blake had the knee surgery and he's doing good. He started running when we were out in Arizona,” Caldwell said. “That was his first time running on the ground. Of course, he's been running in water. He looks good bending and moving and he's gotten stronger and bigger. He has worked on his upper body, of course, while his legs were down. That has been very productive as far as that goes. We wish we would have had him to play some this year. Hopefully. he will be ready and maybe he will get another year down the line and that would be really good for us.”
Stewart will get the first crack at the center spot.
“Cade Stewart has done really well there. He is another one of those guys that wherever you need him, he knows what's going on. I am excited about him,” Caldwell said. “He's very, very powerful. What I have to hone him on is attention to detail, especially at the center position, he has to direct traffic and those kinds of things. I really see him having a big, big year there.”
Freshman Will Putnam earned playing time last season and tallied 192 snaps in 11 games.
“Will has been with me all year. We only had 10 guys so has filled in a spot and has made a ton of progress,” Caldwell said. “He has played about 200 plays this year. It has been really good for him because graduation will deplete, so having a guy with experience hopefully will be a big help. He loves the weight room and has gotten really strong. I believe I saw where he weighs 294 pounds now, and he is adjusting and adding some weight. It's really good weight because his body fat has gone down and his strength has gone up.”
*Later this week we will take a look at the redshirts and the incoming freshmen on the line.