Clemson football: Tigers OL went from a strength to a question mark

Jackson Carman Clemson Tigers
Jackson Carman Clemson Tigers /

The 2020 Clemson football offensive line is going to be a major work in progress and their development will determine the success of the 2020 season.

In 2019, the Clemson football offensive line was a major strength. They returned most of the starters from the 2018 national championship team and the couple that was not starters still saw a lot of playing time.

That is not the case in 2020. The only returning offensive lineman from last season is Jackson Carman. The good news is that returning the left tackle is arguable the most important piece when you have a right-handed quarterback.

The starting offensive line is more than likely going to look like this:

  • Left tackle: Jackson Carman – Junior
  • Left guard: Matt Bockhorst – RS Junior
  • Center: Cade Stewart – Graduate Student
  • Right guard: Will Putnam – Sophomore
  • Right tackle: Jordan McFadden – RS Sophomore

Matt Bockhorst is the most trusted of the four new starters as he played in all 15 games last season and took a total of 421 snaps. Cade Stewart has taken nearly 800 snaps during his time with Clemson football, 335 of those were last season.

As a true freshman in 2019, Will Putnam took 192 snaps and played in 11 games. While he did not play in either of the college football playoff games, many feel he will be ready to go in 2020 as he will see a major increase in time and responsibility.

Finally, Jordan McFadden was essentially Clemson football “swing tackle” in 2019 as he took 315 snaps behind both Jackson Carman as well as Tremayne Anchrum. In the college football playoff, he was used on special teams and did not see any action against LSU in the national title game.

Behind the starting five are a lot of questions. Offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell has a lot of young talent but it’s a lot of raw young talent. Not many freshmen, regardless of how big and strong they are, are ready to step in and play college football at this level.

Most of them lack the football IQ needed in order to make the right reads and key blocks that this offense (any offense) is predicated on.

Chemistry is a big component of any offensive line. The 2016 offensive line is a prime example. They weren’t the biggest or strongest offensive line in the country, but they played as one unit and the offensive output was the result of the work they put in together.

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The 2020 Clemson football offensive line is the biggest question that this team will have offensively and if they can find answers early, this Clemson offense will be hard to stop.