Through the first seven games

CLEMSON - Seven games into his career as the starting center at Clemson, Ryan Norton feels pretty good about how he's played.

But Norton, who could be his own harshest critic, doesn't feel that good. But Dabo Swinney does.

Swinney thinks Ryan Norton "has played really well" for a vast majority of the 460 snaps he's logged so far this season.

"I'm very critical of myself as a player, so my rating might not be as good as what coaches say my rating is," Norton said. "I've been playing pretty well. I have a lot of areas that I can improve on and I will improve on as we continue.

"I won't rate myself on a 1-10 system, but I'd say I've been doing pretty well. But I have areas I could improve."

For Norton, chief among them is protecting Tajh Boyd.

"Finishing blocks, I take a lot of pride in trying to finish a play, not letting my guy chase down whoever is running the ball, not letting my guy get in Tajh's face, trying to put them on the ground," Norton said. "That's what finishing a block is.

"My snaps, I've been very critical about -- I can always improve. Footwork, every little aspect of the game, I can improve on and I will improve on."

The shoes he's been asked to fill are rather large. Norton won the starting job after multi-year starter Dalton Freeman moved on to a job with the New York Jets.

"I'm nowhere near what I could be; nowhere near the shoes that I'm filling right now," Norton said. "Those are huge shoes that I'm filling. Dalton was a great player."

Norton said the guys to either side of him have helped with that transition.

"I've had a lot of help with my guards a lot of the games. I've had great guard play from people like Tyler Shatley, Kalon Davis and David Beasley," Norton said. "They've helped me along the process a lot. I'm continuing it right now."

As for the ratings, the Clemson coaches have awarded Norton with some strong grades this season.

"I think one of my highs is a 91," Norton said. "I think I graded 91 against Georgia and N.C. State."

Not too shabby.

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