Battle Tested

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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said Tuesday night that the coaching staff is pushing left tackle Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
Fr. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-6, 280
St. George, VA

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, and that they are going to make an elite tackle out of the New York native whether he likes it or not.

Battle says he is ready.

Battle is the rising sophomore out of Brooklyn that many feel has the body type and physical tools to be an elite left tackle, and the freshman campaign of 2012 was a learning experience as he played just 80 snaps over four games during the regular season as the backup to starter Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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. As it turned out, 78 of those snaps were against Ball St., Furman and Duke, and he said Tuesday night after practice that he was aching to get out and play.

He got his chance in Clemson’s bowl win over LSU –starting right tackle Gifford TimothyGifford Timothy
RS So. Offensive Tackle
#70 6-6, 310
Middletown, DE

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went out with a leg injury early in the contest, and the coaching staff tried Joe GoreJoe Gore
RS Fr. Offensive Tackle
#73 6-5, 275
Lake Waccamaw, NC

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at that spot for one series before finally moving Thomas to right tackle and Battle into the left tackle spot.

Battle did a more-than-credible job against LSU – playing 73 snaps, just seven fewer than he had accumulated all season – and he told TigerNet Tuesday night that he was prepared to play once his number was called, and the number of snaps was no problem.

“The coaches always told me to be prepared and be ready,” Battle said. “As soon as Giff went down and Joe Gore went in, I told Gore, ‘If you don’t want to keep your job, I am going to take it. Let’s go baby, let’s go.’ He was doing well at first but then I got in and I knew I was going to be ready. We work hard and we condition well, and we all came prepared for that game, so playing that much was no problem for me.”

Offensive line coach Robbie CaldwellRobbie Caldwell
Assistant Coach / Offensive Line
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told Battle to be ready to go in, and then head coach Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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took Battle aside with his own message.

“Coach Dabo came over to me, and he said, ‘All I need from you is to play hard and contain your man. That is all we need.’ That told me they had confidence in me,” Battle said.

Battle said he felt like he was ready to play against South Carolina in the regular season finale, and would have loved to have seen what he could have accomplished against Jadeveon Clowney.

“To be honest, I was ready. I wanted to go in during the South Carolina game and get some snaps and see where I was at,” he said. “They put me up against one of the top defensive ends in the nation against LSU, and I was ready. I want that because I want to see where I am at, because I work hard. I think I would do well [against Clowney] because he is quick and powerful ,and I am quick and powerful. It would be a good matchup.”

Battle said once he got to the line of scrimmage and looked across at LSU’s defensive end, he recognized the look in his eyes.

“The SEC, that is a different level than the ACC. They are bigger and stronger and more competitive and they go harder,” Battle said. “It was a different level. You could tell by the look on their faces that they thought they were going to trample all over me, but I held my own. I did what I had to do.”

Entering this spring, Battle is battling Thomas for the starting job at left tackle, and is currently playing at 277 pounds, but he hopes to get up to 289 by the start of the season.

“They have told me all spring that I have a chance. I am raw, and I know that,” he said. “I have to be patient and my time will come. I have to work on my pad leverage, and getting my hands where they need to be, and I am getting better in my steps.”

Morris, for his part, said he wants to see Battle bring the same intensity to practice that he did to the bowl game, and that the coaches are trying to make sure that Battle does everything he needs to do to be great.

"It's going to get done. Whether he likes it or not, it's going to get done. We're going to make sure of that,” Morris said Tuesday night. “He needs to become more consistent. I can tell you what he needs to do real quick. He needs to make his mind up that this is what he wants to do. It’s time to do it and say, ‘Hey, I am taking ownership of this thing and this job.’ We know he can do it because we saw him do it against one of the best defenses in the country. Now we have to parlay that into practice. He has to practice with that type of attitude and mentality the whole time, not just when he wants to. “

Morris said that even though Battle looks the part, he still has to play as good as he looks.

“He looks good, but they have to play good. There's a difference, because everyone looks good. That's the thing,” he said. “He's got 'it'. He's got the talent, he's got it all. He's just got to make his mind up that he wants 'it'. I want it for him, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. There are days where he makes his mind up and he's great. And then there are days where he doesn't. A lot of it is maturity, because the tools are there. It's just a matter of getting that light to turn on."

Morris then said that a player like Battle at that left tackle spot makes the entire offense better.

“If Isaiah Battle comes on like he thinks he will - and he should - then it's going to make our offensive line so much more athletic and we will have so much more depth,” he said. “We've got guys who are pushing each other, but there are some guys who could really fit that puzzle piece that we thought coming out of that LSU game that we've got it figured out. We just haven't quite gotten it done yet.”

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