The offensive line must give Klubnik protection
The offensive line dipped to its lowest point in 2021 in what became Robbie Caldwell’s final season as the position coach. Thomas Austin helped the group take a step forward in 2022, but they will need to take another step in 2023, and it must happen early.
In addition to playing Duke right away, the Tigers will also play their biggest game of the season against Florida State within a month. Clemson can’t just rely on figuring it out eventually in 2023. They will need to be ready early.
The line is positioned to be very good right away. They return four starters, including center Will Putnam and right guard Walker Parks. The new starter will presumably be at left tackle, where it looks like Tristan Leigh will finally step into the starting lineup.
There was speculation before the season that if Leigh didn’t step up during the fall Austin might experiment with moving left guard Marcus Tate to tackle and bring someone like Mitchell Mayes in at guard. To date, we haven’t heard about any experimentation of that sort, which is an encouraging sign that the staff isn’t taking drastic action to shore up the left tackle position.
We did see that the depth chart released Monday lists the left tackle as Leigh or Colin Sadler. It is hard to tell if that is because Leigh left doubt or is Sadler simply played that well in fall camp. Either way, we don’t have a last minute change in camp like we did two years ago when Matt Bockhorst moved to center right before the season started, which is a positive sign.
If Leigh does not play well against Duke, Austin will only have a short time to figure out what to do before the Seminoles come to town.