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Swinney Cautiously Optimistic About Offensive Line Depth

This just might be Dabo Swinney's most complete team to date. If there is one area of concern though, it is depth along the offensive line.
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This year's Clemson football team might just be Dabo Swinney's most talented team yet. It is easy to see how excited Swinney is about his team's potential every time he speaks on the subject. 

He has good reason to be excited, too. The defense is littered with elite-level talent and it might be the deepest group Brent Venables has had to date.

This offense is led by arguably the best quarterback in the country, is stacked at the skill positions and has what Swinney says could be a "special" group along the offensive line

However, if there is one area that is possibly a concern, it's the second group of offensive linemen. The Tigers are replacing four starters from last season's team, leaving them with a young, inexperienced group of reserves. 

"Just our second OL, you know, we're young there," Swinney said. "Building the quality, dependable depth in that second group. I just think that one area on our team is, we're just different than last year from an offensive line standpoint. Really talented, but we're, you know, guys are coming up."

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Like developing depth at any other position, it's a process and this coaching staff has a specific plan when it comes to bringing those offensive linemen along. It involves having guys learn to play multiple positions and it has been a recipe for success. 

"So we're developing those guys," Swinney said. "(OL coach) Robbie (Caldwell) has done a great job teaching, cross-training, but that's probably the one area is, you know, developing eight, nine, 10 on that offensive line. But that first group's going to be really, really good."

There is still another month to go before the Tigers open the season. Having so much time between the end of camp and that opening kickoff at Wake Forest on Sept. 12 gives Swinney confidence that those young guys will be ready. 

Swinney is also extremely confident in his starters and knows that he can lean on them until that second group is where they need to be. Even if that means having to be on the field a little more than they normally would. 

"I love our team. We were in a really good spot," Swinney said. "That first O-line, I think has a chance to be a special group. We're just not quite there right now with that second group, but we're coming. I think, you know, by the time we play on the twelfth, we'll have nine or ten guys ready to go play. Now our first group may have to play a few more snaps, but until we can really get confident rolling those guys in there the way we like to, that's just where we are right now."

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