Tigers Inspecting the O-Line

CLEMSON – From the very first day of spring practice, Clemson's offensive line has been one of the biggest areas of concern for head coach Tommy Bowden. Now, just two weeks into the season, those issues are once again creeping back to the surface.

After saying the majority of his starting linemen were "soft" Monday night after practice, Bowden said after practice Tuesday night that some linemen are being tried at new positions.

"We're obviously doing some experiments," he said. "We're just not pleased with some things."

However, when asked what those changes were, he deferred all questions to offensive line coach Brad Scott, who has imposed a gag order on all of the linemen.

"I'm the spokesman for the line," he said. "I don't want my guys being subject to you guys asking them what's wrong with the offensive line. Right now, it seems to be a hot issue. I don't want my kids to think there's an issue."

Offensive coordinator Rob Spence was asked about the movement and he refused to give an answer.

"I don't like being asked questions and I don't like answering questions," he said. "I'm just not going to answer. I don't have anything to say. I'm not worried about (who the starters are). It's a non-story. It's no big deal."

Scott also said that he believes there are plenty of hardnosed players on the line, which goes against what Bowden said Monday when he said that his linemen "must listen to opera."

"We've got some tough guys on the offensive line," he said. "We're where we were a couple of years ago when Roman Fry and Dustin Fry and Nathan Bennett and were sophomores, too."

Scott was then asked what changes there were during practice and he spouted off about 10 of them, saying starting right guard Thomas Austin was practicing at center and guard, while starting center Barry Humphries was practicing at guard and center. Bobby Hutchinson and Ben Ramsey also saw time at center.

Starting right tackle Christian Capote saw time at guard, which isn't anything new. He started taking snaps at that position last week during practice and even played there in the game with the second unit against Louisiana-Monroe.

Backup right tackle Cory Lambert saw time at left tackle, while backup left tackle Chris Hairston saw time at right tackle.

Scott tried to downplay the movement by saying the switching of positions is something he does every year. However, it's hard to imagine last year's right tackle Marion Dukes getting time at right guard, while usual right guard Nathan Bennett was practicing at center instead of Dustin Fry.

"I'm just looking for some things that will help us win ballgames," he said. "We've got to be better on the offensive line. I don't want them to get comfortable and I don't want to get comfortable."

QUICK HITS: The defense did more tackling drills Tuesday and Bowden seemed somewhat pleased with the results, though he wasn't enthusiastic. … Freshman linebacker Brandon Maye is expected to finally return and practice at full speed Wednesday. Maye injured his foot in August.

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