Napier defends offensive line

SUNSET, S.C. – Offensive coordinator Billy Napier has issued a challenge to anyone who suggests that the Clemson offensive line still lacks toughness.

"Anybody that questions that can meet me and those boys in the alley and we'll take care of that," he said. "I'll be with them. Anybody who wants to ask that question can meet us somewhere and we'll take care of that."

For most of their collective careers, it's what they've known. The Clemson offensive linemen have heard they're not good enough, not tough enough.

As far Napier's concerned, all of that talk can cease and desist.

"That group's motivated," he said. "There's no complacency there…they're tired about hearing all this talk about our front not being very good.

"This is a chance for them to make a statement about who they are and what they're made of."

Six upperclassmen with starting experience return to the Tigers' offensive line this fall, looking to make that statement.

The anchor, red shirt senior Chris Hairston, returns to left tackle. He's joined by red shirt sophomore center Dalton Freeman, junior right guard Antoine McClain and red shirt junior right tackle Landon Walker.

Red shirt juniors David Smith and Mason Cloy are vying for the starting left guard spot. Smith can play either tackle position and Cloy has started at center.

Potential concerns about a lack of depth can be quelled because of the versatility of those two.

"It's not like we're one injury away from playing an inexperienced guy. We're not," Napier said.

But it is important to build the foundation for the future.

That starts with making sure red shirt sophomore left tackle Brandon Thomas and freshman right guard Kalon Davis are ready before, what Napier called, "the mass exodus that's coming ahead."

"The thing that I think is critical is that we continue to build and develop depth and prepare those guys before (the upperclassmen) leave," he said. "That's just anticipating a problem."

And that's not to say that Napier doesn't hope Thomas and Davis will be ready to play this fall, because he does.

Heading into the 2010 season, Napier's comfortable with the front line of his offense.

"I feel really good about this group, the starting five and the sixth guy and seventh guy. I feel just fine about that group," he said. "I want to know who that eighth, ninth and tenth guy are going to be."

Napier wants more muscle to go to battle with this fall, on the gridiron or in the streets. Top Stories