Dabo Swinney jokingly said before the Boston College game when asked about changes to Clemson's offensive line that the Tigers might start an entirely different five up front.
While that wasn't quite the case last Saturday, there were some new, refreshing 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 because starter Will Putnam was out with a toe injury, while Hunter Rayburn handled snaps.
"We have been trying to figure out the best combination," Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said. "Will Putnam, he has been playing well, so it's unfortunate he was unable to go. After evaluating everything, felt like the best thing to do was give Hunter Rayburn a chance at center and move Bockhorst back to guard, and then let (Paul) Tchio and (Marcus) Tate battle it out throughout the week for the other guard spot."
Tate, a freshman, won the honors and played one of his better games this season.
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"I'm encouraged to see the tape," Elliott said. "I think Marcus Tate might have taken a step forward. As the offensive line continues to develop, it's going to give us some flexibility down the road."
The most important element to that though was Bockhorst back at guard, his natural position. The senior immediately began creating room for running backs and looked like he was back where he belonged. The rest of the offensive line fed off of that and the Tigers produced 231 rushing yards.
"(Bockhorst's) had a tough draw," Elliott said. "You play these three-man defenses and you're on an island by yourself, you play in a loud environment and as soon as you snap the ball, you have a guy on you, and that's tough for any center.
"He was willing to do whatever we asked him to do. It's good to know that we have Rayburn some experience and now you have two centers that have played in a game and snapped the ball."
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