After five weeks of growth, obstacles, offensive line's 'arrow way up'

Dabo Swinney: 'I think we're maturing...and all those guys are just going to get better and better'

Clemson offensive linemen,  Tyler Shatley and David Beasley block for  running back Andre Ellington] during the second quarter at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Clemson offensive linemen, Tyler Shatley and David Beasley block for running back Andre Ellington] during the second quarter at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta.

Dabo Swinney told us it would take awhile.

"It may be four or five weeks," he said prior to the Auburn game, "before we answer some of our questions."

Question mark No. 1, going into the season, was the Tigers' offensive line, which featured three first-time starters.

Since then, the Tigers have endured more than their share of obstacles, including nagging injuries that have sidelined Gifford Timothy, David Beasley, Tyler Shatley and Kalon Davis for varying periods of time.

In the opinion of Swinney, the Tigers have arrived at Game 6 in quite good shape, thank you.

"After five games, I'd say their arrow is way up," said Swinney on Tuesday.

Swinney says Clemson's ongoing work-in-progress will get another test this week from Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Al Groh's 3-4 scheme.

"They run an odd front, a three-man front, and they have really big, big guys," Swinney said. "Because of their scheme, we'll have a lot of individual blocks that we've got to win. It's going to be another big challenge for our offensive line."

Swinney says that while steady progress has been made, he doesn't think the offensive line played particularly well against Boston College, as a unit.

"The first half I thought we were average as grits," Swinney said. "In the second half, we were much better...But I was disappointed with some of the veteran guys. They played a little odd front and slanted some guys, there were some blocks we didn't make - back-blocks, one-on-one blocks that we need to make."

He then backed up and took a broader view.

"That being said, our offensive lineman of the week was David Beasley, and this is a guy who a year ago I didn't know if he'd even play," Swinney said. "Not from a talent standpoint, but I just wasn't sure he was committed.

"He played awesome, with a bunch of knockdowns. So here I am after five weeks telling you that David Beasley is our lineman of the week. So yeah, we've improved."

Swinney also gave junior Brandon Thomas high marks for his play against the Eagles, while he said that Gifford Timothy had perhaps his worst game of the season.

The point is, Swinney said, that he and coach Robbie Caldwell have now developed a confidence level in what the offensive line can do.

"We know what Brandon Thomas can do, and we know what Dalton (Freeman) can do," Swinney said. "And we know what Shatley can do. He's just like a veteran now. He's played five games and it's like he's been an offensive lineman forever. It's really kind of amazing...He plays hurt, he's just tough.

"I thought Giff had his worst game up at Boston, but he's solid and he's improving. I think we're maturing in the offensive line, and all those guys are just going to get better and better."

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