Strength in numbers

CLEMSON - The phrase ‘continuity along the offensive line' is tossed around a little too liberally by media-types who want to sound smarter than they really are.

But there's something can be said for the position Clemson is in as it enters the 2013 season. Having four out of five starters back along the offensive line is something to get excited about this fall.

Dalton Freeman was a good one, but he's the only one gone from last season's front five starters.

All-ACC performer Brandon Thomas is back at left tackle. David Beasley returns to left guard. Tyler Shatley and Gifford Timothy are back at right guard and right tackle, respectively.

"I think it's huge. It all depends on if you can trust the guy next to you," Timothy said. "I think that's a big deal. I know I have a ton of trust in Shatley. If I ever need help, he can help me. I'm pretty sure he knows that if he ever needs help, I've got his back, too.

"You can feel each other out. You know what each other's strengths and weaknesses are. You know, on a certain play, they might have a weakness at a certain blocking scheme, so you can give [him] help."

That gives Chad Morris confidence as both a play caller and a quarterbacks coach.

"To have those four guys up front that have been through the battle [and] live situation, to me, and even from a quarterback standpoint, it's huge," Morris said. "Now, they've got to go play like it. It's one thing to say you've got all of that experience, but you better go play like it, too."

And there is a ton of experience up front for the Tigers.

Thomas has played 1,900 snaps over three seasons. Beasley, a second-year starter, has 794 under his belt. A former defensive tackle, Shatley played 939 in his first season as an offensive lineman. Timothy has 865 career snaps in two seasons.

"That's just one of the things you feel good about," Tajh Boyd said. "We've got guys that have been battle tested, have been in those positions, know what to expect.

"When you've got guys out there like that, it makes your job so much easier."

Any quarterback is going to say that it's important that the guys in front of him are on the same page. That, after all, is where it starts with any high-powered offense.

For the offensive linemen, comfort is the name of the game.

"It's just getting to know the people around you," Timothy said. "It's kind of like basketball. Once you get to know where people are, you can pass the ball smooth and just kind of work it around.

"It's working as a whole unit. It's different than any other group in football. It's considered one big group, instead of five positions." Top Stories