CLEMSON FOOTBALL

Tristan Leigh credits Matt Luke for helping him feel more comfortable
Tristan Leigh is finally feeling comfortable, and he credits offensive line coach Matt Luke for helping him get to that point.

Tristan Leigh credits Matt Luke for helping him feel more comfortable


by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Tristan Leigh is finally feeling comfortable, and he credits offensive line coach Matt Luke for helping him get to that point.

Leigh is a former five-star recruit who assumed a starting role in 2023. He enters 2024 having played 826 offensive snaps over 20 career games (11 starts). Last season, Leigh played 756 offensive snaps over 13 games (11 starts), but there was a learning curve.

This year, he is taking what he learned and trying to be even better.

“I feel a lot more comfortable. Playing is everything. When you play the games, you've gone against really good pass rushers, and there is trial and error,” Leigh said. “You said OK, this is what works for me, this is what doesn't work for me, and I can just build off that. And now that I have a base of what my skillset is, I can just keep trying to learn from others. I learn from Blake (Miller), learn from everybody, Marcus (Tate), and Collin (Sadler). Watch their pass sets, even though it's in different positions, and just try to absorb all the knowledge I can and build off of that base skill that I developed last year.”

The arrival of Luke, who was hired in December, has paid dividends.

“My first takeaway is how passionate he is. He was with us for ten practices, and after we won the Gator Bowl, I saw him crying with his family,” Leigh said. “It means a lot to him. And then his knowledge is unlike anything. He's been coaching for so long. Coaching, his experience is crazy. I can go to him and ask questions about guys that are dominating the league now, like Laremy Tunsil and Michael Oher. There really isn't a limit to his knowledge, so that's what I love about him.

“He has a big emphasis on playing from the waist up, so playing with your eyes and simplifying things with your eyes allows you to play faster on the bottom half. He has a big emphasis on that and the little details and playing the game within the game. We talk about a lot of stuff that maybe we didn't before, like maybe safety rotations and stuff like that. Noticing things in the secondary. So again, just all his ties to his knowledge of the game.”

Leigh said Luke’s intensity shines through.

“I could tell from the first practice we had with him that he came into the meeting, and he just flipped his switch, and it was on. That's how he is about everything,” Leigh said. “I feel like I'm an emotional guy and I really get into the game, and I try to play with passion. So, I think he's a great coach for me and for our room. We feed off our energy, and he's our leader, and we feed off of it. And he's in the locker room, not just addressing us, but the whole team. He’s an alpha dog, and guys follow him, and guys listen to him.”

“Not really yelling, he is just kind of intense. Not an intense like he’s dogging you. It's like he's getting his message across, and you could tell he cares and he's thinking about everything he's saying. He's not just saying things. Everything he's saying has intentions.”

Leigh was asked about his biggest adjustment from last season to this spring.

“Pre-snap, I'm thinking a lot more. Having my first year starting last year, you kind of got to get your feet under you, and now that I have that year of experience, I can start kind of playing the game within the game and trying to just enhance all my technique and everything,” Leigh said. “But he's helped me a lot with things. He meets you where you're at, really, because so many guys he's coached, he's seen so many different stories and so many different developmental stages that he knows where to meet each guy. He knows exactly what you need to become the best version of yourself. So I'm really just trying to buy into that and be a sponge and absorb all the knowledge I can from him.”

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