Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Just when it needs to start growing up, Clemson's offensive line might have gotten younger.
Starting left tackle Chris Hairston bruised his knee during a motor scooter accident on Saturday and is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against NC State. (Apparently, a lot of the players use these to scoot around campus, including Aaron Kelly, and Hairston wasn't fooling around, he just lost control somehow.)
His status will be updated after practice on Thursday.
Hairston was examined by Clemson's medical team on Monday and he does not have any structural damage. Hairston's backup on the depth chart is freshman Landon Walker. If Hairston can't go and Walker is in the lineup. it would mean Clemson would have three freshmen starting on the offensive line.
According to Clemson's sports information department -- which actually has game-by-game starters dating back to the 1930s -- Clemson has not started three freshmen on the offensive line in the same game since 1943 when the US Government drafted Clemson's entire junior and senior class for World War II.
That year, freshmen Ralph Jenkins, Tom Salisbury, Donald Simpson, Pitts Seay and Chick Gainer started the last four games of the season at the five offensive line positions.
Freshman Mason Cloy started at right guard in place of Barry Humphries against The Citadel. Humphries is out at least four to six weeks with a knee injury. Cloy responded with a team best 10.5 knockdown blocks in the win over The Citadel on Saturday. David Smith, a redshirt freshman, is starting at left guard.
Hairston, a sophomore, started each of the first two games this year. He was the third most experienced player on the Clemson offensive line entering this year.
Coach Tommy Bowden said he is expecting the young players to be challenged by NC State's defense.
"Until these guys get some experience, we're going to have to really be creative with how we protect these guys as far as quick throws," Bowden said. "The quick screen game helps linemen. They don't have to block anybody. They block downfield and they block linebackers. So the quick screen, we've got to be really efficient at that and quick throws where you zone protect. Man protection is where we get a little bit of a problem."
That and experience.