Underdogs at Death Valley not sitting well with Tiger o-line


by - Senior Writer -
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The line will get its sternest test to date when it faces the athletic and talented defensive front of the Hurricanes.


CLEMSON –Clemson right tackle Landon Walker said he was proud of the way of the Clemson offensive line played on the road two weeks ago at Auburn, and that he believes that was just a precursor of thing things to come.

Walker said that the Auburn game, in a hostile and noisy environment, proves just how much the offensive line has evolved in the past seasons.

"We're all grown up. That contributes to a lot of it,” Walker said earlier this week. “When we were sitting back as redshirt freshmen and our eyes were wide open every week, we were seeing something new. Big crowds or big situations, we don't build them up as much as everybody else does. We just do what we're supposed to do. That's the way it's supposed to be. You're not supposed to have three or four miscommunication penalties and we didn't have that at Auburn. I think we'll open more eyes as the season goes on."

It was evident early in the Auburn contest that offensive coordinator Billy Napier felt confident running behind Walker and his right side mate, right guard Antoine McClain, with most of the power plays following Walker and McClain blocks.

Walker said that with his size (6-6, 305) and McClain’s size (6-6, 320), it’s only natural for the Tigers to run behind the line’s two biggest players.

"I think most of the time in practice, we do all the power runs to our side and some of the zones to our side. Antoine is bigger than David [Smith] and Mason [Cloy] on the left side. They run behind me and him because we're bigger. I feel like David and Chris [Hairston] are more finesse on the left side. I feel that we're the more powerful guys on the right side. I’m not taking anything away from them. We do a pretty good job of double-teaming. Chris and David or Mason do a really good job, too. It's not like we get a loss of yardage when we run to the left side.”

The redshirt junior then said that it is a point of pride to know the offensive staff has confidence in the right side of the line.

"We take a lot of pride in being a power O-line,” he said. “I think me and Antoine take a lot of pride in them running the ball to our side. I don't notice it a lot during the game but afterwards you notice it. It makes you feel good about yourself when you're doing your job and it gives the coaches confidence to run to your side. Sometimes that also has to do with matchups. It's not always for my ego, but it has a lot to do with who we're going against to that side."

The line gets its sternest test to date when it faces the athletic and talented defensive front of the Hurricanes, and Walker admitted this may be the most talented group the Tigers have lined up against since the 2007 game against Boston College.

As a result, he said he used the bye week wisely in terms of getting in extra film study and preparation.

"I'd say at least five or six hours extra when you think two hours more each day,” he said. “That's key for a team like Miami. On a regular week you don't get as much time as people think, with school and meetings and practice, you have to get in here on your own to get extra hours. To get that during the open date was a key."

Walker said that film study of Miami’s defensive line shows a quick and fast group that doesn’t rely on a lot of blitzes to get pressure on the quarterback.

"Their inside guys were a little bit different last year in the case that their right defensive end was their right tackle. I think he's a better tackle than an end, because he's got that build. He's still a very active player. He's in on a lot of running plays. I think the front guys and linebackers get after it. They're the kind of guys we've got. They’re quick and speedy.

"I didn't notice a lot of blitzing in the Pitt game and I didn't notice a lot before that on film, but they don't have to when they're that talented. They're going to blitz a little bit, especially if we're doing well against the run. I don't expect a whole lot of blitzing - at all."

He said that for the Tigers to have consistent success on Saturday, it will require a concerted effort by all 11 players on the field.

“They're athletic guys who are going to get the ball,” Walker said. “You have to do your best at pushing them whichever way you have to go. They're going to make plays. It's Miami. They don't put guys on the field who don't do that. All 11 guys, including receivers and linemen, we have to step up and block them when we need to block them.

“I think this week our receivers are going to get better at blocking down field a little bit. Andre Ellington last week had a few runs that seemed impossible but he found a little hole and he was out. I don't think the receivers expect that sometimes, so I think they'll do a better job at going downfield and blocking their guys so that we can have bigger plays."

Walker was asked if this game promotes a sense of urgency for a Clemson team that still has a lot to prove, and he answered that it was one of many that Clemson will have this season.

"I think we made a statement against Auburn in that we're not going to get run over,” he said. “Everybody had Auburn beating us by 20 points. We don't pay attention to that. We watch film and we discuss the things that we can do against them. Going in, we know no matter what the media thinks, we know what kind of game it can be beforehand if we show up. I still think that there are a lot of games on the schedule where we'll have to prove ourselves. By no means have we accomplished what we're out to get. We still have to go to FSU, Wake, and North Carolina. There are a lot of important road and home games left."

The Hurricanes come into Death Valley favored to win, and Walker said that only provides extra motivation for the players.

"When you have another team in here and they're favored, that's obviously bulletin board material for us. I think that pisses a lot of guys off - somebody else coming in here and being a favorite. That shouldn't happen. Ever. That will get some guys fired up toward the end of the week, definitely."

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