Thomas learning new position on the fly


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CLEMSON – Clemson offensive lineman Brandon Thomas has had to make a huge adjustment over the past week, and the learning curve is steep while the time is short.

Thomas is the redshirt freshman out of Dorman High School who has played mostly tackle in his time at Clemson. Starting left guard David Smith injured his ankle against Auburn, however, meaning reserve Mason Cloy will move into a starter’s role against Miami; as a result, Thomas spent last week learning the guard position as a means of providing depth on Clemson’s offensive front this week.

Thomas said that early parts of practice last week were difficult as he tried to adjust to the position change.

“It was pretty rough, but I’m coming along,” the 6-4, 300-pounder said. “Playing guard and tackle is totally two different things- at guard everything happens faster. On the outside, it’s quicker. Playing guard, it’s coming along. I’m actually getting the stuff now and knowing the angle points I should take.”

Thomas saw between 12-15 snaps against Auburn, but his time was spent mostly playing the tight end spot when the Tigers ran an unbalanced line. He said he can use the experience of playing in a big game against the Canes, however.

“I think that will help me in the long run get experience at every position,” he told the media this morning.

Tackles and tight ends coach Danny Pearman said that the hardest part of moving from tackle to guard is the different angles that a player sees at each position.

“Your angles change. Not only that, but things happen a lot quicker, the closer to the ball you are, things happen faster because people are right on top you,” Pearman said. “Therefore, your angles do change, which linebacker you work towards. That will take a little time for him. Also, picking up different line twists form inside- which back you are actually working to. I think he picked it up pretty well by the end of last week.”

Thomas agreed with Pearman, but also said the footwork and body movements are different.

“It’s all of that combined,” he said. “At guard, you are closer to the ball so everything is tougher down there. It’s a lot to do with angles and body movements. The ends might spread out from you and the ends might line up right in front of you and slant towards the ball. It’s basically you have to be quick with the hands and the footwork, but it’s mostly angles. I’m coming along pretty well.”

Thomas said he watched Miami play against Pitt on ESPN last Thursday night, and has also seen some film, and he feels like he knows what to expect from the Hurricanes’ talented defensive front.

“The defensive line is pretty decent,” he said. “I don’t think they’re better than Auburn. That’s what we’ll have to see and game plan against them. I know they come off the ball hard, so that’s something we’ll have to work on. I don’t think they do anything different or anything that we haven’t already seen.

“I think we’ve seen anything that anyone can throw at us. I don’t’ think they do anything different- it’s just how we play and how we position and stuff. Going into every game you have to concentrate and focus on what they do and the moves they make. I’m just going into this game preparing like I prepare every week.

Pearman said that Miami’s front compares favorably with what Clemson saw against Auburn.

“I think this front will be very similar to Auburn’s- their ends may be a little bit better than Auburn’s, but I think it’s a very comparable defensive front,” Pearman said. “They can definitely get after the quarterback. That’s what they’ve shown they can do and they do a good job of it. I think they play hard, but that’s where you always start with Miami. They get around the football. Their get off- they are extremely quick off the ball go a good job of getting off the ball and their formation recognition. We’ve got to do a good job up front. “

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