By Ed McGranahan.
By Ed McGranahan
CLEMSON – Chad Morris has a pretty good idea which players are going to help the Clemson offense against Georgia, so he began Tuesday with the five offensive linemen likely to start.
There were no surprises: Senior Brandon Thomas at left tackle, junior David Beasley left guard, sophomore Ryan Norton center, senior Tyler Shatley right guard and junior Gifford Timothy right tackle.
All but Norton are tested veterans with an aggregate 59 career starts.
“It’s kind of the five that’s come out of camp, that’s had the most consistency through camp,” Morris said.
Norton was perhaps the only obvious variable, though there the staff held out hope Isaiah Battle would force them to start him at left tackle.
“Just because we think that those guys are the five today it doesn’t mean that will the five we put on the field Aug. 31. It’s a day-to-day grind for those guys, and we’ve got some guys behind them that are creating some competition.”
Redshirt freshman Jay Guillermo pushed Norton through spring drills and into August, but it would seem his modest experience and time with quarterback Tajh Boyd as the tipping point. Both centers reportedly were inconsistent with their snaps, but Morris’ wish to move at record pace requires a special link.
Morris said the competition created unparalleled depth.
“We haven’t had as many guys pushing in the past,” he said. “We feel that we’ve got some depth at that position, and we’ve got some guys that are going to continue to mature and grow.”
With senior Rod McDowell the starter, Morris said, sophomore Zac Brooks and redshirt sophomore walk-on C.J. Davidson are the next in the pecking order at running back. A minor ankle surgery Monday sidelined junior D.J. Howard at least for the opener, and Morris intends to proceed as if freshmen Tyshon Dye and Wayne Gallman will be redshirted.
“Those are the three guys right there that you’ll see a lot of,” Morris said. Dye has a nagging back injury. Gallman and Davidson turned some heads, but he’s inclined to holdback the first-year player. Davidson, a member of the track team, is listed as a sophomore.
While senior Darrell Smith would be the lead tight end, sophomore Stanton Seckinger “came on the last five or six days of camp.”
“I think he’s going to give us a lot of versatility,” Morris said of Seckinger. “He’s got great speed, he’s gained weight, has gotten a lot more physical.”
Morris began camp with the intention of force feeding Boyd the remainder of the playbook. He was confident Boyd has digested it.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt,” he said. “He’s got a little bit more freedom than he has in the past. That doesn’t mean he’s a cowboy because we gave him a rope.
“We don’t want him thinking. I want him to play.”
Hypothetically, he said, everything is on the table for Georgia.
“It’s all out there,” he said. “We’re not hold anything back.”
Morris said they have been totally invested in Georgia the last several days of practice.
“It doesn’t matter how much we have in, we’ve got to be able to operate 100 percent what we have in the game plan.”