Just a redshirt sophomore, Camden native Thomas Austin is set to make his first start of his college career Monday night against Florida State.
The 6-3, 315 pound right guard is widely viewed as the top up-and-coming offensive lineman on Clemson's roster. In fact, his position coach, Brad Scott has said Austin has NFL-ability.
CUTigers.com checked in with the massive guard earlier this week to get his thoughts on Florida State and more in this edition of "On the Record:"
Thomas obviously Monday night is a big deal for you making your first start as an offensive lineman at Clemson. What do you think it's going to be like for you Monday night?
Austin: It kind of set in Monday night at the Beanie Bowl practice- the dress rehearsal. I was like, 'you know what we are going to play a real game in a week.' So you start to prepare mentally for the task ahead. I really feel like we have a great offensive scheme and we are going to be ready.
What have you seen of Florida State on film? What do you expect out of their front seven Monday night?
Austin: Well they are very fast, athletic and strong. Much like our defense. Their front, Fluellen is a preseason All-American and they can rotate guys so you know they are going to fresh. They're main objective is to cause disruption and create penetration which frees up their linebackers to make plays. All of them are strong fast and they have depth. They are a good team but we are going to try slow them down.
It has been well-documented how you guys have to replace four starters on the offensive line, but you've got a couple of backs that should make you look better early in the season. Talk about that and what they bring to the table.
Austin: Definitely. When you have two backs like C.J. and J.D. all you need to give them is a little seam. They can take that and turn a 3-yard gain and turn it into a 25-yard gain or a touchdown. It doesn't take much. But as an offensive lineman you know that if you can stay on your feet and stay in front of somebody they can make it happen.
Thomas you saw what happened with this offense last year. I've heard how you guys are going to get the ball downfield more in the passing game. Is that realistic with this team and can you talk some about what happened at the end of last season?
Austin: Sure, we definitely ran into a problem last year, starting with Virginia Tech. They put eight or nine guys in the box, it doesn't matter how good your running backs are or your offensive line- it's going to be difficult to run. So, we've really worked hard this offseason with Cullen. He has a great pocket presence. He works the pocket well. He can find open receivers and will do a great job for us. We've worked at keeping the safeties honest. So it's safe to say we've done everything possible to help our running game going into the season. That's been a big focus for us.
You've seen the two quarterbacks play throughout the spring and the offseason. What are your thoughts on Willy Korn seeing the field early in the season?
Austin: That ultimately comes down to our coaches. They've both played well during the offseason. But if Cullen is getting into rhythm and playing well, I don't see any reason to pull him out. It's a great problem to have two good quarterbacks.
On the Record: Thomas Austin
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