Dabo Swinney joked ahead of the Boston College game, when asked about changes to Clemson’s offensive line, that the Tigers could start a completely different front five.
While that wasn’t quite the case last Saturday, there were some refreshing new looks that helped an inspired line make a difference in a 19-13 victory over the Eagles. The Tigers moved center Matt Bockhorst to right guard post because starter Will Putnam was out with a toe injury, while Hunter Rayburn handled the snaps.
“We tried to find the best combination,” said Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. “Will Putnam, he played well, so it’s unfortunate that he couldn’t make it. After evaluating everything, I thought the best thing to do was give Hunter Rayburn a chance at the center and to bring Bockhorst back to the guard, then let (Paul) Tchio and (Marcus) Tate fight all week for the other guard post. ”
Tate, a freshman, took home the honors and played one of his best games this season.
“I am encouraged to see the tape,” Elliott said. “I think Marcus Tate may have taken a step forward. As the offensive line continues to develop, it’s going to give us some flexibility on the road.”
The most important element to this however was Bockhorst returning to the guard, his natural position. The elder immediately began to create room for the running backs and appeared to be back in his seat. The rest of the offensive line fed off and the Tigers produced 231 rushing yards.
“(Bockhorst) had a tough draw,” Elliott said. “You play these three-way defenses and you’re alone on an island, you play in a noisy environment and as soon as you slap the ball you have a guy on you, and it’s tough for any center.
“He was ready to do whatever we asked him to do. It’s good to know that we have some experience with Rayburn and now you have two crosses that played in a game and broke the ball.”
Would you like to participate in the discussion? 100% FREE! Interact with fellow Tiger fans and listen directly to Editor Zach Lentz, Associate Editor Brad Senkiw, and Recruitment Analyst Jason Priester on any topic. Click here to become a member of the ALL CLEMSON forum community today!