July 19, 2007

Clermond: Expect surprises this year

For being a former lineman himself, Dave Wannstedt's Pitt teams have witnessed remarkably poor play in the trenches.

There are a number of reasons for the below-average performance of the lines over the past two seasons, be it talent, depth, or execution, but the product was the same no matter what the excuse. In 2007, though, one of the team's top linemen thinks the situation might be a bit different.

"I really think the d-line will be the strength of this team," senior end Joe Clermond said at the Big East media day this week. "Us and the o-line."

Clermond, after totaling a conference-best 16.5 tackles for loss, was an all-Big East player last season and has been named to no less than three pre-season "watch lists" so far (to wit, Bednarik, Nagurski, and Hendricks). His 1.38 tackles for loss per game ranked 15th nationally and he tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks; as such, he is viewed as one of the team's leaders, both on and off the field, heading into the coming season.

"Everyone talks about it being won in the trenches and the guys really understand that and put it on our shoulders," Clermond said.

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