Notebook: Special Teams, O-Line Updates

CLEMSON – With the ongoing problems on the offense line, starting right guard Thomas Austin is getting more and more snaps at center over Barry Humphries, who continues to have issues at center.

However, it turns out that Austin, who admitted to three weeks ago that he is more comfortable at guard, has had major problems snapping the ball. If it weren't for that, he'd be getting some playing time there and maybe even eventually end up as the starter.

"I'd play Austin some at center, but his snaps have been all over the place," offensive line coach Brad Scott said Tuesday night. "We can do a little bit better (at center) in this area of the game or that area of the game, but if one out of three (snaps) is over the head (of the quarterback) or on the ground, that ain't going to sit very well. He's been inconsistent with that."

Other than the snaps, which is obviously very important, offensive coordinator Rob Spence said Austin has performed well during practice and that the redshirt sophomore has been taking quite a few snaps in front of the quarterback.

"He's providing a lot of competition and that's good," Spence said. "That's an absolute positive for our team that that's taking place right now."

Something obviously has to give because Spence admitted that the poor play of the offensive line ultimately wound up hurting the play of quarterback Cullen Harper.

"I think Cullen played a good, solid football game, but I don't think he played as well at the end of the game as he did at the beginning," Spence said. "He took some awful shots and got hit a bunch and I think that wore on him as the game went."

Scott said the linemen were beaten a few times on plays, but that the majority of the problems blocking Georgia Tech came in the verbalization department.

"They knew what they were doing, but they did a poor job of communicating to the backs on some of the changes in stems that they made," Scott said. "They made the checks for themselves, but for example, the back might have not gotten the check so therefore that turns a guy loose sometimes. So, that's poor communication on our part."

PUNTING CHANGES: Tight ends coach Billy Napier is in charge of the punt blocking unit and he said that the two blocks by the opposition this year are very simple to fix.

"It was just a mental error of not recognizing the front," he said. "It was nothing overly complicated. They were both very simple things. It wasn't something where somebody schemed us up. Very simply put, the guy didn't execute what he was supposed to do.

"I'm in charge of that team and I'm doing my best to prevent it from happening again. We just have to make a few adjustments and that's part of the game."

MORE ON SPILLER: Spence said that the problems with tailback C.J. Spiller is something that is also correctable. It turns out Spiller is doing some things that aren't supposed to happen with running backs.

"You shouldn't take negative plays in a zone running game and some of those runs were zone runs that there was a dent that the defense made to our front and we didn't distort them enough and C.J. didn't see something immediately, so his reaction was, ‘I'm going to try and make a play.' "

"And that's what he did and it ends up being a negative one and that ends up putting you behind in the chain. As a teaching tool, you take it out and say that this is not the way it's done and make sure you don't do this the next time on this play for this reason." Top Stories