Clemson's Offensive Line May Hold the Key to the 2009 Season

by - Senior Writer -

The Clemson Tigers will take to the practice fields next week in preparation for the season, and most eyes will be on the quarterback battle.

However, the key to Clemson’s success this season may rest more on the broad shoulders of the offensive line than it will on who plays quarterback, a lesson learned last season as an inexperienced and injury-riddled front five allowed 34 quarterback sacks and saw their yards per rush decline from 4.1 in 2007 to just 3.4.

The good news for 2009 is that all of last season’s offensive linemen return, with 79 career starts among them, making this the most experienced group of lineman in Clemson since the 2006 squad which averaged 5.7 yards per rush and allowed just 15 sacks.

Phil Steele’s preseason magazine calls this unit the 9th-best in the nation, and senior guard Thomas Austin said he is excited about the potential of the unit while trying to keep the preseason predictions in perspective.

“I really try to not put too much stock in the preseason stuff,” Austin said. “We know how hard we have to work, and we know the growing pains we went through last year. This year, we have a really close unit of guys who like to spend time together and work together. I am excited about what this line can do.”

Since 1963, when Clemson returns five starting offensive lineman, they have won 76 percent of their games, and this season the Tigers have Austin, Chris Hairston, Cory Lambert, Mason Cloy and Landon Walker all returning, with Austin and Lambert the lone seniors in that group. Sophomore guard Antoine McClain will probably move into a starting role, giving Clemson needed depth all along the line.

Austin said that last year’s adversity will only serve to strengthen this year’s squad, and will not be limited to just the offensive line.

“We had a lot of adversity last year as a team, and that can only make you better,” Austin said. “If you can’t handle failure, then you can’t handle success. We learned a lot last season, and built off of that into a good offseason. We are excited about getting back to practice, and if we can stay healthy, we have a really good chance to be a good offensive line. Luckily, we have some good skill guys around us that make our job easier.”

Austin said that the offensive line has also been working on being more physical, and that whether they are in a three-point stance on two-point stance, good offensive line play is all about being balanced.

“To me, there is not a whole lot of difference between the three-point stance and the two-point stance, because you have to keep your balance no matter what,” Austin said. “The mentality might be different on a third-and-short or a goal line situation, but what it comes down to is you have to have that hard-nosed mentality. I think we are developing that. That is why we are working so hard – you work the whole year for 12 opportunities to play the game. You have to remind yourself what the ultimate goal is.”

Rate this Story:
37 votes

Send Feedback to David Hood: Email | Comment
Post your comments!
Subject (Replies: 40) Author
Clemson's Offensive Line May Hold the Key to the 2009 Season
Thomas Austin Quote
What does he know? The XBox All-Americans on Tigernet
It was a huge problem that would be fixed without Spence
LOL. ^^^^^Exhibit A^^^^^^
Totally missed the point, I dont' have the first clue which
Then you are barking up the wrong tree. Go back and look.
Not YOU #### it, the fan base in general.***
Re: Not YOU #### it, the fan base in general.***
for pass blocking you are right, but not for run blocking***
Who is right? Thomas Austin?***
"to me" doesn't make it universal.***
Other way, 3 point for run blocking and 2 point for pass
I think that's what i said, don't try to confuse me***
5 point for hawt sechsing***
W T F ??***
Obvious problem is you can't broadcast your plays with your
Re: Obvious problem is you can't broadcast your plays with your
Good Oline should be able to do both out of both
from the no #### sherlock file, David Hood presents...***
Re: Thomas Austin Quote
Water is wet. Fire is hot. I'm about to get banned***
for stating the obvious?
OT has been sited as a thin area for the coming season
Re: OT has been sited as a thin area for the coming season
But Oklahoma and Florida have injuries***
A certain Sr. offensive lineman is vastly overrated.
Re: A certain Sr. offensive lineman is vastly overrated.
Still no excuse.***
everyone is entitled to an opinion I guess***
Phil Steele??? 9th best in the nation - are you kidding me?
What people who say things like you just said fail to
I agree, the talent is there...
Re: I agree, the talent is there...
We couldn't run for squat in the Gator Bowl!!!***
NO - sorry
If we score more points than the other team we may win games
Re: Clemson's Offensive Line May Hold the Key to the 2009 Season
Based on last year I assume we will
Re: Clemson's Offensive Line May Hold the Key to the 2009 Season

Texans coach says Watson is backup QB

WATCH: Cain ready to "show out on the field'

WATCH: Bryant calls starter role 'an honor'

WATCH: Lawrence and Wilkins interviewed together

Tuesday practice observations: Simmons, Muse and QBs

Two Tigers named to AP Preseason All-America team

WATCH: Clemson names Kelly Bryant as starter

WATCH: Clemson OT ranked in ACC's Top 30

WATCH: ESPN College Football Hype video
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Daily Digest