Offensive line still unsettled heading into spring game

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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had some harsh words for his offensive linemen following Wednesday’s practice, an offensive line that is still in flux as the conclusion of spring practice occurs following Saturday’s Orange and White Game.

Heading into the spring, Morris said he hoped that talented Isaiah BattleIsaiah Battle
So. Offensive Tackle
#79 6-6, 280
St. George, VA

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– who played well in a relief effort against LSU in the bowl game – would win the left tackle job outright. That would allow the versatile Brandon ThomasBrandon Thomas
RS Sr. Offensive Line
#63 6-3, 305
Spartanburg, SC

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to move to a spot where he was needed, perhaps inside. One of those spots was left guard – where Thomas played two years ago – a spot that was manned by inconsistent David BeasleyDavid Beasley
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#68 6-4, 315
Columbus, GA

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and Kalon DavisKalon Davis
RS Jr. Offensive Guard
#67 6-5, 330
Chester, SC

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last season.

However, Battle hasn’t won the job outright, and Morris said that Battle was “a long way away. Long way away.”

Morris said the offensive line was experiencing a leadership void, a void created with the graduation of center Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
#55 6-5, 265
Pelion, SC

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, and Morris seemed frustrated that Thomas and Tyler ShatleyTyler Shatley
RS Sr. Offensive Guard
#62 6-3, 295
Icard, NC

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haven’t emerged as leaders of the group.

“That group, there is a long way to go. We lost a leader in Dalton Freeman and that was huge,” Morris said. “You expect Brandon Thomas and you expect Tyler Shatley to take on that leadership role, and that just isn’t in their personality. It’s got to be. Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Sr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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has got to take ownership of that bunch, and that is the challenge I am going to have put on him, to take charge of those guys. Our leadership on the offensive line has to materialize like we want. Has to. Has to. Has to.”

Morris was asked if he had seen any improvement out of the left guard spot, and he said there have been flashes, but if he doesn’t see improvement the coaches would consider moving Ryan NortonRyan Norton
RS So. Offensive Line
#58 6-3, 270
Mauldin, SC

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– the erstwhile starting center – to left guard in fall camp.

“At times. Very inconsistent. In fall camp, we may see Ryan Norton over there a little bit. We may see [Eric] Mac Lain possibly. It all depends. These guys have to have a great summer. We are nowhere close to where we need to be right now.

Morris said that redshirt freshman Jay GuillermoJay Guillermo
So. Center
#57 6-3, 290
Maryville, TN

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has shown enough this spring that the coaches wouldn’t hesitate to move Norton if that meant they were putting the best five on the field.

“Jay has had a really good spring. Reid WebsterReid Webster
RS Jr. Offensive Line
#77 6-5, 285
Woodstock, GA

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has had a really good spring,” he said. “But Jay is making a really strong push right now.”

Clemson’s offense put up record numbers in 2012, and Morris said that part of the problem is that players are acting entitled despite the fact that a new season with new challenges sits on the horizon.

"We haven't mastered anything. These guys are 0-0,” he said. “They haven't won a game. Now some of them played on a team that won games last year, but this team hasn't won a game. They have everything to prove. Last year was great. People got rings. People got banners, something to hang. Whatever. This team hasn't done anything. And this offense hasn't done anything. And that's the illusion. They strut out on the field like they're the sixth-ranked scoring offense in the country, and last I checked they haven't started keeping stats yet. They haven't done anything. And that's what's alarming.”

Morris said he only wants to play the players who show they can be physical on an every-down basis.

“We are going to play physical and we are going to play with a hard edge,” he said. “If they don’t want to do that, then they can go stand behind us. Just not too close behind us. Going in, Coach Swinney talked about that at the start of spring is playing more physical at all positions and we have achieved some of that. Don’t get me wrong – we like our guys. They are gonna be really good, but they haven’t arrived yet. And that’s the thing; some of them think they have. Every day, you have to show up with hard edge about yourself.”

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