Blitz pick up, consistency key for OL

CLEMSON - Unity amongst the coaching staff is having a trickle down effect that Thomas Austin has taken notice to.

"From a player's stand point, you can tell there's a close unity on the staff," he said. "That trickles down to the team."

More than any other position group, Clemson's offensive line is going to have to be unified when trying to slow down Middle Tennessee's defense. Picking up the Blue Raiders' blitzes and stunts is Austin's key to keeping Saturday's season opener from being another long one up front for the Tigers.

Clemson's offense could see several different fronts, both even and odd-man, and a lot of different blitz packages. That starts on Middle Tennessee's defense with middle linebacker Danny Carmichael.

"He's their leader. Besides him, they don't have much experience at linebacker," Austin said.

Last year, the group was somewhat of a patch work job with players finding getting comfortable in a position. A work in progress last year, Austin believes that it's ready to be considered a fully functioning unit this year after an off-season full of questions.

With four veterans in place this off-season, fundamental work was the focus over the off-season. The addition of Corey Lambert at the right tackle has Austin confident in the five's potential.

Consistency will be needed more than ever this year if the line is going to be improved after last year.

"We played well in some games and didn't play well in other games," he said. "We were definitely inconsistent. We're ready to put a 60 minute game together and continue to get better each week, especially as we get into the hard part of the ACC schedule."

But the past has passed. Austin tries to keep his thoughts about games and performances from last year to a minimum.

"It's a different team, coaching staff, schedule," he said, "but that feeling is in the back of your mind.

"It's that feeling you felt walking off the field in the Georgia Dome last year."

Favored to win on Saturday, Clemson's ability to continue playing well after every play, favorable and otherwise.

"Forbid that they bomb a touchdown pass at the beginning of the game, we've still go to play," he said. "For us, it will be important how we react in the face of success and the face of adversity." Top Stories