Popular misconception? Swinney says Tigers' OL recruiting is right on target

'I think those guys deserve a little credit'

Tigers Gifford Timothy (70), Oliver Jones (65) , Scott Pagano (56), Tyrone Crowder (55) and Maverick Morris (69) during  pregame warmups at the Orange Bowl

Photo by Mark Crammer

Tigers Gifford Timothy (70), Oliver Jones (65) , Scott Pagano (56), Tyrone Crowder (55) and Maverick Morris (69) during pregame warmups at the Orange Bowl

There is a perception among some Clemson fans, perhaps widely held, that the Tigers have concentrated on signing elite offensive skill players at the expense of the 'big nasties' in the trenches, and that the commitment the coaches received last week from five-star tackle Mitch Hyatt was a breakthrough.

Not true, says Dabo Swinney, who contends that the offensive line has been anything but neglected during his run as head coach.

"I totally disagree with that," said Swinney when asked about the perception of skill-heavy recruiting during his signing day press conference. "I'd like to say that we've set about every record in history the past three years, and you don't do that without some offensive linemen getting their job done. I think those guys deserve a little credit."

Swinney reeled off a list of current and past Tiger offensive linemen who he said "are just what we're looking for."

"Just look at the guys we've had come out of here and who are here now," he said. " Ryan Norton? What a player. He's exactly what we needed. Jay Guillermo - on his way. Eric Mac Lain - on his way, even though he was signed as a tight end, he's developing into exactly what we want. Joe Gore is a tremendous talent, we just need him to take that next step. Isaiah Battle is going to be a first-round draft pick one day if we can keep him heading in the right direction.

" Brandon Thomas is fixing to be a high draft pick - back-to-back first-team All-ACC. Tyler Shatley's going to the NFL, and we've got some guys in the NFL now."

Swinney said he believes the Tigers "hit a home run" with the four offensive linemen brought in during the past two recruiting cycles - Tyrone Crowder and Maverick Morris in 2013, and Taylor Hearn and Justin Falcinelli this year.

"Taylor Hearn and Justin Falcinelli - and I mean this in the right way - are dirt bags," Swinney said. "Those guys are what you want. Tyrone Crowder is going to be a great player, and we love Maverick Morris."

Swinney said the Tigers' depth and class-to-class continuity has been affected by injuries that cut short the careers of tackles Gifford Timothy and Patrick DeStefano.

"Tackle will be the biggest need for us next year as we go out and recruit," he said. "We lost two tackles off-cycle in Giff Timothy, who had another year and who can't play any more, and Patrick, who had three more years. That's really hurt us, depth-wise. I like the guys we have on campus, but we've got to go sign some tackles (in 2015)."

Swinney pointed out that the Tigers' offensive success has come behind a line with few senior players.

"We haven't had a lot of seniors over the past few years," he said. "Dalton Freeman was the only one last year, and he's in the NFL. They usually don't give those jobs away. This year, I think Brandon and Tyler will both make it, and then next year, again we'll only have two senior starters. Kalon Davis and David Beasley both have the ability to play on the next level, if that's the measure of a good offensive lineman.

"Shaq Anthony has really come on, and we feel really good about Battle and the step he took this year. It's going to be a big spring for Mac Lain and Gore, who we need to take that kind of step for us, to solidify our two-deep."

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Comments » 23

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

I have commented on more than one occasion that our offensive line gets no credit for anything. I said just the other day they must be blocking somebody or just lying down on the ground in front of them because we averaged over 500 yards a game and 40 points. I agree big time with Dabo on this one. The top skill guys are the ones that the sports writers write about and ESPN talks about. More than half the fans of any big time college football program probably couldn't tell you the name of one offensive lineman on the team. Bet they could tell you every quarterback, tailback, and wide receiver on the team whether they start or warm the bench.

CharlestonTiger writes:

I'll start by saying that I'm a huge Clemson fan, but most of Dabo's comments on the offensive line are ridiculous. I agree, Thomas and Shatley (a converted defensive lineman) had nice senior seasons, but the rest of the line was far from impressive.

I watched Ryan Norton consistently thrown to the ground and dominated by Timmy Jerningan of FSU and Kelcy Quarles of USC. Shaq Anthony and Joe Gore have done nothing to show signs they can block good pass rushers on the edge. Battle is a work in progress. Guards Beasley and Davis regularly give up a strong push in the middle.

The point is no matter what Dabo claims, Clemson has not recruited well enough along the offensive front.

Tigerrob, it's easy to put up those types of numbers when facing only 2 elite defenses out of a 12 game schedule. With the talent disparity, there should not be a problem moving the ball against NC State and BC...

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

I would like to add something to my prior comment. When you recruit people like Sammy Watkins and Nuk Hopkins and Mike Bellamy it sort of takes away from any publicity any offensive lineman may get unless he is a 5 star recruit that Alabama wanted real bad. It looks as though we got a real good start on the 2015 class by getting Mitch Hyatt. He is a big time recruit s

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

in response to CharlestonTiger:

I'll start by saying that I'm a huge Clemson fan, but most of Dabo's comments on the offensive line are ridiculous. I agree, Thomas and Shatley (a converted defensive lineman) had nice senior seasons, but the rest of the line was far from impressive.

I watched Ryan Norton consistently thrown to the ground and dominated by Timmy Jerningan of FSU and Kelcy Quarles of USC. Shaq Anthony and Joe Gore have done nothing to show signs they can block good pass rushers on the edge. Battle is a work in progress. Guards Beasley and Davis regularly give up a strong push in the middle.

The point is no matter what Dabo claims, Clemson has not recruited well enough along the offensive front.

Tigerrob, it's easy to put up those types of numbers when facing only 2 elite defenses out of a 12 game schedule. With the talent disparity, there should not be a problem moving the ball against NC State and BC...

You are right. We moved the ball almost at will against SC but fumbled the game away. We did ok against a team (OSU) that had lost 1 game prior to our beating them in 2 years. I believe we got 577 total yards in the game. Not too bad. Everybody saw Auburn burn Alabama with their running game so now that's what all Clemson fans want. Was Auburn's offense rushng game that good or was Alabama' rushing defense that bad? SC had no rushing defense or much of any defense actually. We ran it down SC's throat.

CharlestonTiger writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

You are right. We moved the ball almost at will against SC but fumbled the game away. We did ok against a team (OSU) that had lost 1 game prior to our beating them in 2 years. I believe we got 577 total yards in the game. Not too bad. Everybody saw Auburn burn Alabama with their running game so now that's what all Clemson fans want. Was Auburn's offense rushng game that good or was Alabama' rushing defense that bad? SC had no rushing defense or much of any defense actually. We ran it down SC's throat.

For a team that averages 40 points and 500 yards of offense per game, I would not call 17 points and 350 yards moving the ball at will or down SC's throat....Granted the turnovers hurt but be realistic, Clemson did not block very well in that game.

Ohio States defense was not good this year and was suspension and injury riddled when Clemson played them. It's the same Ohio State defense that gave up 41 points and over 600 yards to a subpar Michigan team...

I understand the O-line is not terrible, but they are by no means a strength. However, if Clemson wants to be an elite team, the line must be upgraded. They simply have not fared very well against good defenses.

CharlestonTiger writes:

I'm tired of hearing about all these great offensive stats when those numbers disappear against USC. The MAIN reason Clemson has lost five straight to them and not scored more than 17 points is because their defensive line has overwhelmed our offensive line each and every time. Not hard to figure out.

lhaselden writes:

in response to CharlestonTiger:

I'm tired of hearing about all these great offensive stats when those numbers disappear against USC. The MAIN reason Clemson has lost five straight to them and not scored more than 17 points is because their defensive line has overwhelmed our offensive line each and every time. Not hard to figure out.

The problem the last 2 years was not being able to get the USC O off the field.... not the OL!!! Look at the # of 3rd down conversions that USC had against us.... The TOs stopped our offense and limited our possessions, Not the OL not being able to block!

CharlestonTiger writes:

in response to lhaselden:

The problem the last 2 years was not being able to get the USC O off the field.... not the OL!!! Look at the # of 3rd down conversions that USC had against us.... The TOs stopped our offense and limited our possessions, Not the OL not being able to block!

The Clemson offensive line against the South Carolina defensive line was a mismatch as it has been the last 5 years. That is why Clemson couldn't stay on the field and score more points. I do partially agree with your point, the 3rd down conversions given up were also an issue.

gamecockg writes:

Charleston Tiger I like reading what you say, you know what you are talking about. As for tigerrob #44 to say Gamecocks had no defense,you are Dumb as they come.34-17

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

You are right. We moved the ball almost at will against SC but fumbled the game away. We did ok against a team (OSU) that had lost 1 game prior to our beating them in 2 years. I believe we got 577 total yards in the game. Not too bad. Everybody saw Auburn burn Alabama with their running game so now that's what all Clemson fans want. Was Auburn's offense rushng game that good or was Alabama' rushing defense that bad? SC had no rushing defense or much of any defense actually. We ran it down SC's throat.

Robbie...may I suggest you button it up, and listen to Charleston. It appears the man knows something about the game. You totally amaze me with some of your comments. SC has overwhelmed your OL for 5 consecutive years. I'm sure you are trying to get the big picture, but, you have a very small screen. C'mon Robbie, get in the game.

radtiger writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

You are right. We moved the ball almost at will against SC but fumbled the game away. We did ok against a team (OSU) that had lost 1 game prior to our beating them in 2 years. I believe we got 577 total yards in the game. Not too bad. Everybody saw Auburn burn Alabama with their running game so now that's what all Clemson fans want. Was Auburn's offense rushng game that good or was Alabama' rushing defense that bad? SC had no rushing defense or much of any defense actually. We ran it down SC's throat.

TigerRob, making comments like that makes you either a DeLUSIONAL fan or an Idiot.Clemson havent ran a ball down SC throat in over 5 years....Stop drinking the Orange Koolaide.It cause irrational thinking

clemvol writes:

What offensive line? When was the last time we had one? Folks talking about large amounts of yardage. Against what caliber of competition? The only reason you have a "flash and dash" offense is that you can't put together an offensive line nor do you have the ability to put together a strength and condition program that works. Other than this you are left to sell the "snake oil" to cover up. As far as the lamecocks go they are still the 2nd best team in the "least of the east" division and that will always make it difficult to get beat by runnerups. But they are still the "state champions" according to some make believe football guru....wait a minute, wasn't that coach slurrier? P.S. I'm still waiting to see the trophy. Can anybody produce one???

radtiger writes:

in response to clemvol:

What offensive line? When was the last time we had one? Folks talking about large amounts of yardage. Against what caliber of competition? The only reason you have a "flash and dash" offense is that you can't put together an offensive line nor do you have the ability to put together a strength and condition program that works. Other than this you are left to sell the "snake oil" to cover up. As far as the lamecocks go they are still the 2nd best team in the "least of the east" division and that will always make it difficult to get beat by runnerups. But they are still the "state champions" according to some make believe football guru....wait a minute, wasn't that coach slurrier? P.S. I'm still waiting to see the trophy. Can anybody produce one???

Once again another Delusional fan that makes himself feel better with the immature name calling of a coach and team that has beat Clemson by double digits for the past 5 years.None of what you mentioned will change the fact that Clemson havent figured out a way to have a WIN over a "SO CALLED LESS TALENTED TEAM"....Bragging Rights for producing in state BEAT DOWN is all the trophy thay need......CAN WE PRODUCE A WIN is the BIG QUESTION?

clemvol writes:

in response to radtiger:

Once again another Delusional fan that makes himself feel better with the immature name calling of a coach and team that has beat Clemson by double digits for the past 5 years.None of what you mentioned will change the fact that Clemson havent figured out a way to have a WIN over a "SO CALLED LESS TALENTED TEAM"....Bragging Rights for producing in state BEAT DOWN is all the trophy thay need......CAN WE PRODUCE A WIN is the BIG QUESTION?

Open the eyes, pay attention, have always blamed the Tigers for not getting the job done. Again, the facts are: We keep getting out coached by a "slurrier" ( the name fits ), I can understand why most "coot" fans don't mind over paying their coach for "2nd place" given the school history. I'm sure there are plenty of "coot" fans that keep a life size cardboard cut out of "slurrier" in their house or garage. Fact: Clemson continues to overpay our coaching staff for ineptness. Fact: What has happened does not change the last meeting. Fact: If the coots want to be "state champion" then I am all for it but at least produce a trophy to put in your bare trophy case.

TigertownBound writes:

While the offensive line may not have helped the situation, I think the main issue in the games has been the simple fact that Tajh never played well in big games when he was expected to. Two years ago, a largely freshman team went into Willy-Brice and made too many mental mistakes. Last year and this year, Tajh got nerves and threw the most untimely interceptions of his career. 3rd down defense was a big problem last year, but I think our defensive secondary will actually be able to lock down every once in a while in clear passing situations. Once that happens, watch out college football.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

in response to CharlestonTiger:

For a team that averages 40 points and 500 yards of offense per game, I would not call 17 points and 350 yards moving the ball at will or down SC's throat....Granted the turnovers hurt but be realistic, Clemson did not block very well in that game.

Ohio States defense was not good this year and was suspension and injury riddled when Clemson played them. It's the same Ohio State defense that gave up 41 points and over 600 yards to a subpar Michigan team...

I understand the O-line is not terrible, but they are by no means a strength. However, if Clemson wants to be an elite team, the line must be upgraded. They simply have not fared very well against good defenses.

I agree with everything you just said, Charleston Tiger. OSU had a bad defense and was hurt just like we were in 2012 against SC. And our O line is our worst pasrt of our team. That is due to the type of offense we run. You either choose to run a great spread office our some type of option. Auburn had a good running game but their passing game was no where nearly as good as their running game. Somewhere there is a happy medium. Maybe we can find that blend of great skill players and a tough run blocking offensive line. But I do agree with what you wrote about the subject. At least you didn't call me a nut! Thanks for that.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to clemvol:

Open the eyes, pay attention, have always blamed the Tigers for not getting the job done. Again, the facts are: We keep getting out coached by a "slurrier" ( the name fits ), I can understand why most "coot" fans don't mind over paying their coach for "2nd place" given the school history. I'm sure there are plenty of "coot" fans that keep a life size cardboard cut out of "slurrier" in their house or garage. Fact: Clemson continues to overpay our coaching staff for ineptness. Fact: What has happened does not change the last meeting. Fact: If the coots want to be "state champion" then I am all for it but at least produce a trophy to put in your bare trophy case.

Clemmervol...I am somewhat surprised you have reverted to the name calling. However, it really doesn't matter what you call our coach..slurrier or the ole ball sack, or our team..the lamecocks or coots(still don't get this one), not having a trophy, the fact still remains...the ole ball sack and the coots have hammered your Paper Puddytats for 5 consecutive years. Spurrier owns every lil piece of real estate between Blabbo's ears, and plays him like a puppet. Oh well, as Val Kilmer said in Tombstone, "Poor soul..he was just too high strung, and the strain was more than he could bear." Possibly this is some Clemmers problem. Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

This comment is aimed at about 75% of you that write on this web site. I have been going to Clemson football games since 1957. I have forgotten more about football than most of you know or ever will know. When I write a comment it is based on facts and figures not on a totally biased opinion. If any reasonable thinking person actually thinks SC was a better football team than we were this year then you are not a retionally thinking person. As far as OSU goes I don't know how bad or good their defense was but they looked pretty bad when they played us. Let me remind you folks of a fact: It was the 2nd game they lost in 2 years. Now I want to hear from one of you folks that think you are so smart and tell me it was not the 2nd game they lost in two years. Tell me how they should have lost 4 or 5 games. That may very well be true but I don't keep up with them so I have no FACTS to back up anything I could say about them. The one fact I do know is we had 577 total yards against them and scored 40 points but were lucky to win and we won because they turned the ball over 4 times. This is all FACTS.

clemvol writes:

in response to TheTruth46:

Clemmervol...I am somewhat surprised you have reverted to the name calling. However, it really doesn't matter what you call our coach..slurrier or the ole ball sack, or our team..the lamecocks or coots(still don't get this one), not having a trophy, the fact still remains...the ole ball sack and the coots have hammered your Paper Puddytats for 5 consecutive years. Spurrier owns every lil piece of real estate between Blabbo's ears, and plays him like a puppet. Oh well, as Val Kilmer said in Tombstone, "Poor soul..he was just too high strung, and the strain was more than he could bear." Possibly this is some Clemmers problem. Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning.

Just the response I expected. It never fails. Please send more but then again we already know your dribble. Keep the day job if you have one.

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to clemvol:

Just the response I expected. It never fails. Please send more but then again we already know your dribble. Keep the day job if you have one.

Interesting response Clemmmer, and I might be tempted to chuckle, if your comments made the slightest bit of sense. I appreciate your interest in my employment status, but, I've done my time and doing just fine...thank you. Just between you and I, let's get this into the open. I think you and many of your fanbase viewed USC as a drastically inferior program to Clemmons for years, and for the most part, rightly so. However, unfortunately for you, that situation no longer exists. The mere thought of SC beating up your beloved Puddytats is more than you can handle, must less 5 years in a row. What a revolting and vulgar thought...huh? Now for TiggerRobbie: I can tell from your posts you are a walking encyclopedia of football knowledge and data. I'm sure there are numbers of posters on here who would be delighted to compare football knowledge with you. I'm afraid all you have accomplished in those many years of watching the game, as you claim, is to be fitted with uringe colored blinders, which you can't seem to remove for whatever reason.

MoncksTater writes:

The fowl odor of Columbian Coot on a Clemson blog is overwhelming. In their 5 year football history they have accomplished beating their big brothers and what else ? Who do they need to pay (other than their thug/illiterate recruits) to get into the BCS by not losing to teams that lose to everybody else ? Oh wait , the BCS passed em' by . Spurrtsyhas done a fine job of convincing the Dirtpecker Clan that they are an elite , nationally relevant program. Truth is , they are no more known for their accomplished feats than they are for their current NCAA probation and failure to win a division title in this supposed "greatest era of Gamecock" football ever. smh

harryD writes:

Interesting article on cnn about trolls and their need to harass to feel important you guys should check it out

TheTruth46 writes:

in response to MoncksTater:

The fowl odor of Columbian Coot on a Clemson blog is overwhelming. In their 5 year football history they have accomplished beating their big brothers and what else ? Who do they need to pay (other than their thug/illiterate recruits) to get into the BCS by not losing to teams that lose to everybody else ? Oh wait , the BCS passed em' by . Spurrtsyhas done a fine job of convincing the Dirtpecker Clan that they are an elite , nationally relevant program. Truth is , they are no more known for their accomplished feats than they are for their current NCAA probation and failure to win a division title in this supposed "greatest era of Gamecock" football ever. smh

A decent attempt with a sliver of humor monkeytater. Columbian coots, slurrier, lamecocks, big brothers, 3rd cousins twice removed, highly ranked classes, USC shortcomings...none of this makes a difference nor changes a thing. Try and stay focused monkeytater, as I'm sure it will be difficult for you. Now, start counting, and you can use your fingers and toes if need be. One, two, three, four, and FIVE!!! That's right monkeytater...five in a row and headed for six. I feel confident the events of the past 5 seasons have caused you discomfort, and wrecked your Clemmons sense of entitlement. Please get your rest and take your meds, this will subside in time. Get over it and take care monkeytater.

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