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Offensive Line

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Mitch Hyatt

Tremayne Anchrum

Justin Falcinelli

Sean Pollard

Zack Giella

Gage Cervenka

John Simpson

Chandler Reeves

Cade Stewart

Matt Bockhorst

Noah DeHond

Blake Vinson

Jackson Carman

Jordan McFadden


Season Preview 2018

Heading into 2017, the Tiger OL was largely intact from the previous year with 4 of 5 starters returning. Talented C, Jay Guillermo, was the only departure. Justin Falcinelli stepped into the role and shocked the hell out of me by not only being even better than Guillermo, but becoming the 2nd best OL on the team behind Mitch Hyatt. Therefore, it made sense that the staff would rely on the OL to ease the transition to new QB, Kelly Bryant. Clemson’s offense certainly had issues at times, but the OL performed well and ended up as the 3rd best run blocking OL according to Football Outsiders.

Heading into 2018, the Tigers will need to replace starters LG Taylor Hearn, RG Tyrone Crowder, and backup RG Maverick Morris, who was the team’s best situational pulling guard. Fortunately, the new starters at guard are known commodities.  Sean Pollard will bump down to RG from RT and the much heralded recruit, John Simpson will take over at LG following a very good spring. Tremayne Anchrum, a co-starter at RT with Pollard last year, will take over full-time at RT.

The biggest news, and perhaps somewhat of a surprise, is that Mitch Hyatt will be returning for his senior season at LT. When most fans watch their favorite college football team, they hear the LT’s name a lot because the other team’s best pass rusher beats him every so often. At Clemson, not so much. Even doing the film reviews, I have to make myself watch Hyatt because he’s so consistent that I forget about him. He’s not perfect and has room to improve, but he’s a guy you can count on at the spotlight position on the OL.


Fall Camp Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Blake Vinson, Jackson Carman
LG: John Simpson, Matt Bockhorst, Seth Penner
C: Justin Falcinelli, Gage Cervenka, Pat Godfrey
RG: Sean Pollard, Cade Stewart, Zach Giella
RT: Tremayne Anchrum, Chandler Reeves, Noah DeHond

Fall Camp is going to be all about getting this version of the OL to gel. Last year’s OL was probably more powerful, but this year’s OL is quicker and more athletic. This could certainly alter the play calling and also alter who the QB happens to be as well. Pollard is the starter with the most work to do in fall camp. He was swimming a little bit in the spring game, but he proved his freshman year that he can learn quickly and lock down his assignment. Barring an injury, I don’t see any change in the 3-deep during Fall Camp. This depth chart accurately reflects what I saw on film from the spring game.

I have two possible exceptions though that you can watch out for in camp. If they move Jackson Carman to another position (especially RG), it is to try and get him in the 2-deep and get him playing time. If they leave him at LT and he can’t crack the 2-deep, they’re going to want him to redshirt and transform his body prior to next spring. Also, Jordan McFadden will be arriving in the fall and the staff will want to see what he can do. If he “wows” them, he could end up in the 2-deep, but he’s a longshot.


Season Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Blake Vinson, Jackson Carman (redshirt)
LG: John Simpson, Matt Bockhorst, Seth Penner
C: Justin Falcinelli, Gage Cervenka, Pat Godfrey
RG: Sean Pollard, Cade Stewart, Zach Giella, Jordan McFadden (redshirt)
RT: Tremayne Anchrum, Chandler Reeves, Noah DeHond

I have the depth chart remaining the same this season with Carman and McFadden redshirting. If the staff feels they need a better backup to Pollard at RG, I think Carman is the best candidate of the 3rd teamers. If we’re talking LT, Blake Vinson proved that he is a capable backup to Hyatt this spring and Tremayne Anchrum could slide over if needed as well. There is no pressing need to throw Carman in there if Hyatt were to get hurt (knock on wood).


The Kraken Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Blake Vinson, Jackson Carman (redshirt)
LG: John Simpson, Matt Bockhorst, Seth Penner
C: Justin Falcinelli, Gage Cervenka, Pat Godfrey
RG: Sean Pollard, Cade Stewart, Zach Giella, Jordan McFadden (redshirt)
RT: Tremayne Anchrum, Chandler Reeves, Noah DeHond

As I said above, I think they have it the way it should be and I don’t foresee any changes. I prefer Carman and McFadden to redshirt. We’ve already proven that we’ll play a true freshman at LT if he is the best guy, so there is little to be gained from him playing 75 snaps as a 3rd teamer. On scout team, where he’d be going against our DEs everyday, he could gain a lot. We finally have the depth up front to make these kind of luxury redshirt decisions, so let’s make ’em.

I see this OL being different than, but about as good as, the OL last year. It’s the 2nd teamers where there is a little bit more of a drop-off than the past couple years…at least initially. We have 4 new backups in the 2-deep. As the season progresses, these guys should get better and better. We just need to avoid the injury bug in August/September and we should be ok.




Spring Preview 2018

During this three year run of dominance, no position group has improved more than the Offensive Line. For 15 years, the OL was the missing link. Now that it’s been fixed, poof, national championship contenders three years in a row. Of course, against elite defenses like Auburn and Alabama, the OL was not an unstoppable force. Such is the nature of an offense that cannot challenge all areas of the field. The fact that we made it as far as we did was a testament to the performance up front in 2017.

Heading into 2018, we lose our roadgrater RG, Tyrone Crowder, our versatile LG, Taylor Hearn, and our best pulling OG in Maverick Morris. We brought in gigantic OT Jackson Carman who will be available in the spring and OG/OT Jordan McFadden, who will show up in the fall. OTs, Noah DeHond and Blake Vinson, and OG Matt Bockhorst will be coming off of redshirt years and enter the fold as well.


Legit Stars: Mitch Hyatt, Justin Falcinelli

The biggest news on the OL this offseason was Mitch Hyatt’s decision to come back for his Senior season. Hyatt will be a 4-year starter and is an All-American caliber player. He won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the best blocker in the ACC last year. There is no reason for him to take a lot of live reps this spring. The goal should be to keep him in shape, keep him healthy, and get a pecking order of potential successors to his throne.

The biggest surprise on the OL last year was Justin Falcinelli at C.  The transformation from what I saw in 2016 and what I saw in 2017 was remarkable. Justifiably, Gage Cervenka was a popular pick to supplant Falcinelli early in the season. Instead, Falcinelli went from being a guy that looked like he didn’t belong in the 2-deep to an All-ACC caliber player. I’m happy to have egg on my face for doubting his ability to improve. He was a bad man last year. Like Hyatt, he is a very important player as it relates to our success in 2018. We need him in shape and healthy for fall camp. He is also a senior and therefore, I expect the staff to look forward towards a successor here as well.


Class of 2016: Sean Pollard, Tremayne Anchrum, John Simpson

It’s hard to think of these three as upperclassmen, but they are entering their junior campaigns at Clemson. None of them redshirted their freshman year and they have all been in the 2-deep since they arrived on campus. Every spring there is shuffling on the OL in order to try and get the best 5 on the field. So let’s start there.

Sean Pollard is a two-year starter at RT that is moving to RG in the spring. If you have read here for the past couple years, you know that I think his body type is better for the interior of the OL. I think his ideal position is still C, but with Falcinelli crushing it, an opening at RG, and Anchrum’s ability to play RT, this move makes a lot of sense. He should be able to pick up OG fairly quick. Mobility might be an issue, but he looked good pulling around as a RT on Counter Trey.

This gives Tremayne Anchrum the job at RT and clears the way for the staff to look at the 4 young OTs listed in the section below. Anchrum’s power at the point of attack improved from his freshman to sophomore year and I expect it to improve again. Still, Anchrum is a better pass blocker than a run blocker. I’m partial to having a stud drive-blocker at RT, but in today’s game, you really need a guy that can pass block well also.

Hearn’s departure clears the way for his backup of the past two seasons to snag the starting spot. John Simpson is the best athlete we have on the OL, but he has to clean up the mistakes. Sometimes, he looks lost and unsure of who to block. His goal this spring is mostly mental. He has to clean up the errors.  I expect Simpson to have a very long leash, but at some point next fall, you have to expect guys like Bockhorst, Stewart, and McFadden to close the gap.


New Blood at OT: Blake Vinson, Noah DeHond, Jackson Carman, Chandler Reeves,

Business just picked up at OT. It’s clear by our recruiting strategy, we are not messing around at the two tackle positions. These four guys represent the 2nd wave of high level OL recruits at the tackle position.

I was impressed with Blake Vinson in the spring last year. I know the staff had to be on the fence about redshirting him. In the end, they did and that was the right move. They got him in the Power Hour strength program and he has all 4 years of eligibility left. I think he’s the surprise breakout candidate on the OL this spring. He’s my favorite to win the backup the spot at RT and potentially jump into a platoon with Anchrum this fall.

Where does Noah DeHond go? “The Jersey Giant” could get a look at both tackle spots this spring, but where he eventually ends up will be interesting.  Will he compete with Jackson Carman for the backup spot at LT or will he move over and compete with Blake Vinson at RT?  I think that’s what the staff has to evaluate this spring.

Jackson Carman is the new guy everybody is excited about. The question for most of us is will he show enough in the spring and fall camps to avoid a redshirt and be the heir apparent to King Mitch. Well, to me, that’s where DeHond’s position assignment could be the indicator. If, lord forbid, Hyatt were to go down, Anchrum would probably be the starter at LT. So, the listed #2 spot on paper is more of a formality. Anchrum can’t start at both RT and LT in the spring game though. It will be interesting to me to see who the two starting LTs are and what the LT pecking order is in the spring game.

Chandler Reeves is the old guy in this group as a RS sophomore. Reeves has a nice frame to work with, but has needed to add weight and power. Unfortunately, Reeves tore his ACL in August of 2016 and that limited his development. Now, over a year and half after the injury and with some game snaps under his belt, we’ll get a better idea of how he measures up.


Cade Stewart, Seth Penner, Matt Bockhorst, Gage Cervenka, Zach Giella

We are thin on the interior of the OL heading into the spring. Unlike the past couple years, the backups heading into the spring have no meaningful snaps between them. Opportunity knocks. I feel like these 5 guys are all coming into spring practice with a clean slate and lots of reps to go around. The battle for the #2 spots should be a very authentic one with no predetermined opportunity involved.

Unfortunately, Zach Giella is injured and may not be available until the end of spring practice. That’s really tough and I feel for him on this one. Giella is a swing man that plays both C and G and could get 3rd team reps at both positions and really show what he can do.


Fall Preview 2017


Fall Camp Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn

LG: Taylor Hearn, John Simpson

C: Justin Falcinelli, Gage Cervenka

RG: Tyrone Crowder, Maverick Morris

RT: Sean Pollard, Tremayne Anchrum

 Much like the TE position, the OL positions remain status quo from where they were pre-spring.  Hyatt is the diamond of the group. The former 5-star recruit is now an All American level LT. Crowder is an All ACC caliber drive blocker with limited foot speed.  Hearn is even more effective than Crowder in our zone blocking scheme and is a very good pass blocker as well.  Sean Pollard stepped in for the beleaguered Jake Fruhmorgen around mid-season last year.  His emergence balanced our offense by allowing us more success running the ball to the right side and a sturdier right side in pass blocking as well.

Then there is Falcinelli.  Falcinelli is great in a phone booth. However, our offense requires a certain amount of foot speed that Falcinelli has just not shown.  This causes him to offer little resistance at times on DL slants and blitzes and allow uncontested penetration into the backfield.  Allowing drive ending tackles for loss is unacceptable when you look at the talent we have on the 2nd team.  This reminds me a lot of the situation FSU was in back in 2014.  After we A-gap blitzed their Center into their lowest rushing total in 10 years, they moved their All ACC LT, Cam Erving, to C. Since Falcinelli’s limitations are athletic, I don’t understand why we would want to wait for a team to expose us in the same way.

My hope in fall camp is that the cross-training we saw on the OL this spring is the first step in identifying a new Center. As of right now, I believe Pat Godfrey is the best player listed at Center on the roster.


OL Season Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn

LG: Taylor Hearn, John Simpson

C: Gage Cervenka, Pat Godfrey

RG: Tyrone Crowder, Maverick Morris

RT: Sean Pollard, Maverick Morris or Tremayne Anchrum

It’s difficult for me to imagine Falcinelli making it past Auburn as the starter.  I’m not sure what the plan is here, but I think there has to be one.  Then again, Dabo has been talking up Falcinelli to the media for a year now.  Using the logic that Falcinelli has put his time in, I don’t understand how he has earned a starting spot and Senior Maverick Morris hasn’t.  Unless a current starter is moved to Center, the other positions should hold true to where they were last year. A breakout from Simpson could move Hearn to RT.

 In my experience, Offensive Linemen have a weakness for Fast Food, Alcohol, Sweets, and country girls (not necessarily in that order). My primary hope is that they all show up in great shape and there is no regression.


OL The Kraken Depth Chart

LT: Mitch Hyatt, Taylor Hearn, Tremayne Anchrum or Noah DeHond

LG: Maverick Morris or John Simpson, Matt Bockhorst

C: Sean Pollard, Pat Godfrey or Gage Cervenka

RG: Tyrone Crowder, Cade Stewart

RT: Taylor Hearn, Tremayne Anchrum, Blake Vinson

As you know, if you’ve read here, I think Pollard would be a natural at Center, so that’s where I’d put him.  This would move Hearn to RT and allow Maverick Morris or John Simpson to start at LG. In other words, this would get our best 5 OL on the field at the same time.

Furthermore, it would allow us to put a foot forward for next year.  The Tigers are going to lose Tyrone Crowder, Maverick Morris, and most likely, Mitch Hyatt to the NFL draft.  This rotation would allow for the younger guys to get more game experience in garbage time.  Morris would be a swing guard and still come in for Crowder and be the primary backup at RG. Stewart and Bockhorst would take the garbage time reps at OG. Anchrum would be the swing OT that would play a few series per game. His primary position being based on whether or not DeHond shows potential to be the LT of the future. So, Vinson, DeHond, and Bockhorst would all see the field as freshmen.

This would prep for a 2018 starting OL of Anchrum/DeHond, Simpson, Pollard, Hearn, Anchrum/Vinson.


2016 Preview


The most maligned position group for the better part of the past 15 years showed us a little something last year.

stacySeegars

Stacy Seegars

It had been almost a decade since Clemson fielded a proficient OL (2006) and even that line did not have the depth to overcome an injury to Roman Fry.  In 2015 though, the Tiger OL took a massive leap forward.  According to Football Outsiders OL Ratings, Clemson ranked 9th nationally in Adjusted Line Yards (Run Blocking) and 6th nationally in Adjusted Sack Rate (Pass Blocking).  To put that in perspective, Clemson ranked 101st and 26th respectively in 2014.

So what did we learn about this quantum leap?

Well, for starters, we learned that those posting at the original STS, including Dr.B, FF, myself, and others, were correct about needing a bigger board for the OL and needing to allocate more resources into OL recruiting.  This criticism dates back to the Brad Scott years. Well, we’ve finally seen it done the other way now and massive success happened almost overnight by doing it.

Yes, getting a nutritionist, OL support staff, and adjusting the Strength and Conditioning also certainly helped, but these are also things that people were also calling for on STS for years.  The writers on STS received a tremendous amount of criticism about it and were even addressed by Dabo indirectly a few times about how delusional they were.  So, I think it is appropriate to  take this opportunity on behalf of Clemson fans to say thank you to Dr.B and Figure Four for beating this drum. We Tiger fans enjoyed the new OL and we really enjoyed fixing the last piece of the puzzle personnel wise and playing for a National Championship last year.

John PhillipsPerhaps the best news of all is that it appears that the commitment is there from Dabo to keep it this way. You had to wonder if the commitment level was just a one year mirage, but it is not. The recruiting numbers were strong in the most recent 2016 class and the 2017 class is shaping up to be the same way.

From 2012 to 2014, we took a total of 7 OL and only one 4-Star recruit.  From 2015 to 2017, we will have taken 11 OL including (at least) FIVE 4-Star or better players. This will be the most OL talent we have had at Clemson since the early 90s.

As we sit right now, we have two true freshman early enrollees as the backups at the Tackle positions.  They hit on Tremayne Anchrum and Sean Pollard and they have made a splash this spring.  The most gifted OL recruit in this class in my opinion, John Simpson, arrives in the fall.

There are three returning starters from last year Mitch Hyatt, Jay Guillermo, and Tyrone Crowder.  All three can play.  Mitch Hyatt is already, in my opinion, the best all around Left Tackle we’ve had at Clemson in a generation.  I think if he stays healthy, everybody will know who he is at the end of the season. Jay Guillermo is a potential Remington Award finalist this year at Center and Tyrone Crowder is the strongest drive blocker on the team at Right Guard.

The new starters are Left Guard, Taylor Hearn and Right Tackle, Jake Fruhmorgen.  I believe Taylor Hearn to be an upgrade over Eric Mac Lain.  He is more agile and is an excellent combo blocker that is better equipped to get to the 2nd level.  I think there will be no dropoff from Joe Gore to Jake Fruhmorgen.  Gore was probably a better drive blocker but Fruhmorgen is a better technician and more aware. He also has the upside to improve his drive blocking.

Bostic BrothersThe key backups are Maverick Morris, Justin Falcinelli, and Logan Tisch.  Morris is a versatile OL that excels in pulling.  He really gets out there and does work on power and tunnel screens.  Falcinelli is still a work in progress and the biggest dropoff from 1st to 2nd string would be with him at Center.  Tisch was the surprise of the spring game.  He may not be the #2 on the official depth chart, but he’s the #2 to me.  Remember his name. He is a walk on, but he is going to play here.

Projected Depth Chart

LT-Mitch Hyatt, LG-Taylor Hearn, C-Jay Guillermo, RG-Tyrone Crowder, RT-Jake Fruhmorgen

LT-Tremayne Anchrum, LG-Logan Tisch, C-Justin Falcinelli, RG-Maverick Morris, RT-Sean Pollard

LT-Taylor Hearn, LG-Seth Penner, C-Pat Godgrey, RG-Zach Giella, RT-Noah Green

Incoming: John Simpson, Cade Stewart, Chandler Reeves

The current state of the Offensive Line is that it is in the best shape it has been in a very long time. I am excited to see what they can do with the three returning starters and heralded 2015 class having another year to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  I think they may be a little overrated by Football Outsiders but I would still have to call this group an A-.

Early Look at 2017: We are only scheduled to lose Jay Guillermo after 2016 so, we could return 4 starters in 2017. This should be huge for the new QB. Replacing a Center is tricky though because you make the line calls and you have to know more than just your job. However, I like the true Sophomore, Sean Pollard, to replace Jay Guillermo over Justin Falcinelli. Pollard has the low center of gravity you want from a Center and is very intelligent. He is listed as a Tackle this year but, I think Center would be his most natural position on the college level.

In 2017, we should be at the point where we can redshirt our freshman OL and get them the valuable time needed to transform their bodies in the weight room. So, unless one of our OL recruits blows the staff away, I think they will redshirt and we will go with the veteran depth we have built up the past few years.

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