O-line coming together

CLEMSON - Now it's only a matter of cleaning up the details on offense, according to Thomas Austin.

Having seen several different looks from the Tigers' defensive front, Austin said it's prepared he and his mates on the line for just about anything they'll see this year.

"Every look we're going to get this season, we've gone against it," he said. "That's helped out a lot. Now, it's looking at what Middle Tennessee State runs and putting our game plan in to beat those guys."

After practice Friday, Coach Dabo Swinney said Cory Lambert looks to be making some separation from Landon Walker at right tackle. Along with Antoine McClain at right guard, Mason Cloy at center, Chris Hairston at left tackle, Austin sees some real cohesion amongst the group from his spot at left guard.

"We have our five guys up front and we'll probably play eight or nine of them. To have all those guys back, we're getting used to playing with each other," he said. "It's definitely going to help us up front."

One of the more criticized groups over the years, Austin said the offensive line doesn't want to be the team's weak link. The criticism and growing pains from 2009 will help build a better group up front.

"We took our shots. But I expect us to be much improved this year, much more detail oriented," Austin said. "That's something we don't lightly." Hairston concurred.

The change this year has been a mindset, he said. It's started on the practice field.

"Being soft is something that was something we really had to address this year," Hairston said. "We don't want to have any doubters saying that we played soft. If we only rush for 50 yards, we want people to say that was nasty bunch up there even though they only rushed for 50 yards."

Offensive coordinator Billy Napier said Hairston and Austin are the anchors of the line.

"Mentally, from a leadership standpoint, they've got the most career snaps," Napier said. "The right side is a little bit younger, but talented.

"I think that group is coming together. Everyday is another opportunity to come together and learn something new."

In the first weeks of practice, Napier said there's been a focus on increasing the tempo and pace of practice to tire the offensive line. The strategy is one that helps create situations for the line to get tired and learn to push through the pain.

Hopefully, he said, the games will be easier than the practice.

There's one guy that helps make the games easier-CJ Spiller. Helping pave the way for Spiller's run towards a Heisman Trophy would be a great accomplishment, Austin said.

"I can't think there can be a bigger accomplishment for us up front. That's our goal. Well, first is to win an ACC Championship. But number two is to have a Heisman Trophy winner in our backfield," he said. "There's very little drop off after him when it comes to Jamie (Harper) and Andre Ellington.

"For us it's motivation. But to see those guys run, it's really exciting. All you have to do is maintain your block just a half a second longer, and those guys can score."

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