Offensive line continues to remain a hot topic at Pitt's football training camp. It goes without saying (only because we've said it so much), but the plan of head coach Paul Chryst is really focused on, more than anything else, a dominant offensive line.
Starting right tackle T.J. Clemmings is drawing some favorable reviews. The biggest thing to remember is that Clemmings should be better simply because he's had more time at the position.
Last year, he was thrust into a starting role with little college experience. Now, as Chryst notes, he's had a whole year under his belt. "A year ago today," the head coach said, "he had 15 practices (as an offensive lineman), so he’s had a year. He’s learned from that. We need him to be really good."
Clemmings' offensive line coach Jim Hueber concurs with that, and even adds that he's significantly better. "[He’s improved by] leaps and bounds," Hueber says. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to learn anything, but he’s ahead because of the fact that he’s been out there and played. He’s not starting from zero; he was playing catch-up."
'Playing catch up' is probably an understatement. The fact that Clemmings came in and started on the line despite his lack of experience there really shows how thin that unit has been. As I mentioned in the past,he did have some offensive line experience from high school. But that really wasn't too significant in the grand scheme of things since at Pitt, his position was on the defensive line for three seasons.
With a year under his belt in facing some quality defensive lines, Clemmings should be improved. And as Chryst says at the end of that quote, they need that from him while some of the younger talent they have on the line takes some time to develop.
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