TROY — Marcus Webb was dominant last Saturday. Troy’s defensive lineman had seven tackles — including three sacks — during the Trojans’ 49-28 victory over Georgia Southern.
The senior from Decatur entered the game with 16 tackles and three sacks for the season. Combined. For his performance against the Eagles, Webb was the Sun Belt Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.
“It felt great. It’s been a long journey for me,” Webb said. “To finally see all that hard work come together … I’m very thankful.
“During the game, you don’t realize how good of a game you’re actually having until after, but it felt great. It felt even better just to win the game, of course. That helped me have a great day and seeing everyone happy for me does make you feel really good. I felt really great about it.”
His move the week before the game from tackle to end allowed the 6-foot-3, 279-pound Webb to dominate Georgia Southern’s tackles with his strength, quickness, athletic ability and physical gifts.
In fact, his production didn’t surprise his teammates.
“Marcus Webb, being Super Webb — like we call him — he can do that every single week if he wanted to,” linebacker Carlton Martial said.
That is exactly what makes Webb so perplexing. Everyone sees the physical skills Webb has — the first-step quickness, the strength and just his sheer size — and knows he can dominate.
It has been exasperating knowing Webb hasn’t dominated on a consistent basis. That fact has frustrated the previous coaching staff, this coaching staff, and teammates who see him every day and know how good he can be.
“We try to stay positive and always encourage him to ‘Keep going, keep fighting, because we know what you can do, what you can be,’ because we see … he has so much upside and so little downside,” Martial said.
Troy head coach Chip Lindsey noted that upside earlier this week.
“Marcus is a guy that, when he wants to, can be one of the best players in the league,” Lindsey said.
Catch that? When he wants to.
“He’s fought some injuries over his career, as well. He had a major toe injury that kept him out most of this spring that he had surgery on,” the head coach said. “He didn’t get many reps this spring.”
Defensive coordinator Brandon Hall admitted he’s not sure what makes Webb tick.
“He’s an intelligent person, he’s a good person, he does a lot of good things,” Hall said. “When he decides he wants to go, I mean, he’s an unstoppable force, as you saw Saturday. I don’t know what motivates him. As coaches, that’s our job to find that. Hopefully, we can find it again on Saturday because we need him to play like that again.”
You know who else is frustrated by Webb’s inconsistency? Webb himself.
“It has frustrated me a lot, to the point to where sometimes I question whether I’m even as good as I think I am,” Webb said. “Being a pass rusher, a lot of times, it’s not as easy to get back there. … Me not producing early on, it did put me in a little funk. You just have to keep going. You have to get past all those barriers and keep working. That’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
His size is prototypical for a defensive tackle. His demeanor is not. Webb’s personality isn’t the loud, oversized, Type-A brand. Motivation can be unconventional.
“Some of the tactics they use may not work all the time. I know how to motivate myself, and I think that’s all that matters,” Webb said. “I’m for sure not a rah-rah guy. That’s not me at all. I’m more into myself and self-motivation.
“I’m not going to go out here and yell before a game and waste my energy. Or even before practice. I just go out there and do what I have to do.”
Webb also has heard for years about his vast potential. There was a time he didn’t embrace it. Now, with just three regular-season games remaining, he sees it differently.
“I’ve been hearing it since I got here, my potential and what I can do,” he said. “I think I owe it to those people, to myself, to actually go out there and prove that all the things that are said are true.”
He traces most of his struggles to confidence issues when he has been inconsistent in games and in practice.
“I did have confidence issues about whether I can do this,” Webb said. “I know I have the ability, right? I go out there and I do it in practice, and sometimes I just go out there and I lose, or don’t win a rep, and I think, ‘OK, I’m not as good as I think I am.’
“I think that’s my problem. I know everybody is going to lose at the end of the day, but that’s what makes you better is learning from your losses. I think now I’m realizing that, and it’s helping me to succeed in a lot of different aspects.”
Hall said Webb holds the key to his future.
“He’s talented. He’s got gifts. He could probably play at the next level, if he wanted to,” the coordinator said. “The guy’s been here five years. I mean, he’s got to make that decision.”
Troy defensive line coach Davern Williams may be one of the few who has Webb’s ear.
“He’s helped me a lot. Sometimes, it’s not necessarily with football, per se,” Webb said. “He’s a person you can go talk to, and he’s an easy person to talk to.
“I think that helps lead into the coaching aspect of it because you know he cares about you and has your best interest at heart. He’s a great coach, too. He’s done a lot for us, and helped develop a lot of us into being better players.”
Troy fans loved seeing Super Webb last Saturday.
“Yeah, they call me Super Webb,” he smiled. “They’ve called me Thanos before. Kirk Killey is the one who actually gave me that name. They come up with all these names of some big, powerful, strong dudes.”