Best is the standard. That's the mantra the players inside the Clemson program live by.
Through the first three games of the season, the Tigers offense has failed to live up to that standard, and on Monday, veteran offensive lineman Matt Bockhorst made it clear that in his eyes, that was unacceptable.
"I know that there’s a standard here," Bockhorst said. "There’s a standard that’s been set by the guys before us. And we owe something to that standard. I’m not gonna relent on that and I’m not gonna let those guys down. Because I know what they gave. The guys that came before us, I know what they sacrificed."
In two games against Power-5 competition, Clemson is averaging less than 10 points per game and the offense ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in several statistical categories on that side of the ball.
With the Tigers having so much inexperience at key positions, head coach Dabo Swinney knows how fortunate the Tigers are to have a guy like Bockhorst as one of its leaders.
"Incredibly committed guy, been around here a long time," Swinney told the media on Tuesday. "He's been on a bunch of great teams and he knows the type of execution you have to have."
While Swinney is well aware of the issues his team has faced on offense, the head coach maintains the effort has been there and he is confident that dedication will eventually start to pay off.
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"If we weren't getting the type of effort, it'd be a different deal," Swinney said. "I mean I'd have a different mentality. But that's not the case. We've got great kids that are working their tail off."
One of the reasons for his confidence, outside of the team's work ethic, is the leadership he has seen on display each and every day from guys like Bockhorst.
"You got to have commitment to be and do your best," Swinney said. "Our guys are committed. We got a very committed group of guys, we have great leadership on this team. This is an easy team to come to work with every day."
Despite the ineffectiveness on game days, Swinney said the team has consistently had great weeks of practice and at some point, it will translate onto the field of play.
"For us, you know, it's preparing with purpose and our guys are doing that," Swinney said. "I mean we're having great— At some point we're going to take practice to the game day. These guys are preparing with purpose, there's no doubt about that."
Clemson heads to Raleigh this weekend for its first true road game of the season. The Tigers have won eight in a row, and 16 of 17 over the Wolfpack, and Swinney knows if that success is to continue, his offense will need to quickly find its footing on Saturday in Carter Finley Stadium.
"That's kind of where we are right now, but we've got to play better," Swinney said. "But our preparation, our effort, the guys we got, we've got a good group and it's just a matter of time before we put it together and we better put together this week. I can tell you that. We're gonna have to play well, gonna have to play our best game."
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