A depth chart for Clemson’s game with Georgia was distributed Monday morning placing offensive lineman Reid Webster in uncommon territory.
A graduate student with a degree in marketing, Webster was listed with redshirt junior Eric Mac Lain as the “either or” choices at left guard for Saturday’s game in Athens, Ga.
Ideally, the job would go to senior David Beasley, a starter in 19 games over two seasons, including each of the past two bowls. But Beasley was suspended from this game in May for violating team rules, so one of the intriguing offseason story lines for this offense in transition was the competition at left guard.
Webster’s experience at Clemson has been limited to 217 snaps over three seasons, and he has not started since his senior year at Etowah High in Woodstock, Ga., a playoff game against South Gwinnett five years ago.
His confidence never wavered. “I don’t think there was ever a time when I never thought I could do it,”
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Webster’s metamorphosis has been a long time coming, and a pleasant one, particularly with the added value of being capable at all five positions on the line.
“It’s kind of what we’ve been waiting on,” Morris said. “He had a really good fall camp. Reid is going to be able to play multiple positions to help us out with the guys that we’ve got.”
Keenly aware that Georgia would test his rebuilt line and new starting quarterback, Morris wasn’t ready to name a starter because there are still too many variables to consider. Mac Lain, a tight end two years ago, has 150 snaps at tackle.
“That’s the hardest part of a first game,” Morris said. “There are so many unknowns.”
The biggest might be deciphering how defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s defensive style transfers from Florida State, where he won a national championship last season, to Georgia. Pruitt also won a couple of rings coaching defensive backs at Alabama.
Morris said his staff has been back and forth reviewing images from Clemson’s games with both FSU and Georgia last season.
“Have been for about the last month,” Morris said, “trying to find out who’s playing where, and just watching some of their personnel groupings.”
Pruitt’s track record isn’t a secret. He’ll leave his corner on islands and bring pressure, and that take-no-prisoners style took the guesswork out Clemson’s game with FSU by halftime.
“Jeremy’s shown he really likes to pressure,” Morris said. “They pressured all year long last year at Florida State. I don’t think they really cared who they played.
“They are going to do what he does. I think coming into this game I don’t see that being an issue.”
Even though there’s a higher degree of confidence in the other four linemen – center Ryan Norton, right guard Kalon Davis and tackles Isaiah Battle and Joe Gore – Morris implied Pruitt’s strategy would probably be a no-brainer with senior quarterback Cole Stoudt starting his first game.
“We’re expecting him to bring pressure and press us on the outside. That’s what we’re expecting,” Morris said. “It won’t be anything that’s revolutionary, that we haven’t seen before.”
For Webster, it’s all relatively new. He played one snap at center against Georgia a year go with the majority of his experience against Wake Forest, S.C. State and Virginia.
During preseason, a majority of his work was at left guard, but he left speculation to the reporters.
“I think I’ve been consistent,” said Webster, acknowledging that, “Knowing all five positions really helped.”