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Clemson has played OL shuffle this year

Clemson has had so many depth issues and injuries on its offensive line, it has had to take an unconventional route: playing its starters every single snap.

It happened twice earlier this season, the first time on record that Clemson played the same five offensive linemen the entire game in consecutive games. Ideally, most programs like to go at least eight deep on the offensive line.

So imagine only having five.

"We're all tired, we're all stressed out, we're all overworked, but there's no complaining, no crying," left guard David Beasley. "It's not like it's happening to one person. It's happening to all of us. It's been a great feeling to be out there with my brothers and have a great time with them. After playing so many snaps, it's second nature now. You know you can do it."

With Joe Gore and Jay Guillermo sidelined for a few games, the versatility from its reliable linemen was crucial. Reid Webster and Kalon Davis have started every game, but not at the same position. In fact, Webster has played all five positions on the line; Davis has played four.

They lead the team in total snaps: Davis with 577, Webster with 543. Isaiah Battle, who has played in seven games, has 504. Both Webster and Davis are on pace to average more snaps than the two linemen who led the team in snaps a season ago.

Davis is averaging 72.1 snaps per game; Webster is averaging 67.9 snaps per game. Last year, Brandon Thomas averaged the highest number of snaps, with 66.5 per game.

"They're not always perfect maybe from an execution standpoint, but I just have a great appreciation for their effort that they've put forth," coach Dabo Swinney said. "The fact that Kalon Davis has played every position except center, sometimes in one game. Reid Webster has played every position, including center.

"But it's been a challenge because we've been pretty limited there all year. There's been some personnel changes, injuries, a lot of different things that we've had to deal with. Those guys just continue to show up and work their tails off. They're taking a lot of pride. We're getting a lot out of them is the bottom line."

Clemson was able to play seven against Syracuse, though starter Isaiah Battle was benched for disciplinary reasons. Eric Mac Lain made his first career start, and freshman Tyrone Crowder played, giving the Tigers an opportunity to help build their depth.

But mostly, they have had to survive. In the offseason, Clemson worked hard on conditioning, knowing depth would be a concern and it needed its linemen in great shape to play in a high-tempo offense. Turns out, Clemson has started the same five in four games this season, and its play on the line overall has been uneven.

Still, Webster has been quite a revelation after serving as a backup for most of his career. He went into the season with 217 total snaps in three years. He has more than doubled that through eight games.

"The past few years, I didn't play as much as I'd have liked to, but the guys in front of me earned their role," Webster said. "Patience is how I got through that. I've been moved around a lot and I've learned to be patient because I figured my time would come. Now that my time has come, I'm just trying to take advantage of it."

Beasley, who was in and out of the starting lineup a year ago after a breakout sophomore season, was suspended for the season opener against Georgia.

But since then, he says he has a renewed focus. He only missed one snap against Florida State, played every snap over the next four games and only left the Syracuse game in the fourth quarter after injuring his ribs.

Despite the injury, Beasley says he will play Thursday at Wake Forest, a team that has offensive line issues of its own. Center Ryan Norton, who also left the Syracuse game with an injury, also is expected to play against the Deacs.

"Just counting the snaps up, you have to go one play at a time," Beasley said. "Everyone has to control their breathing and keep going because once you get in the game, you forget about it. I usually keep myself into the game by just having fun out there. Really, if you have fun you forget about pain."