In year 2, Chad Morris pushing Tigers' offense even harder

Clemson Football  - Chad Morris

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Football - Chad Morris

— Following a successful first season at the Clemson offensive helm, Chad Morris is pushing even harder.

The evidence was clear at Monday’s scrimmage, the first of spring practice.

Practices are closed to public and the media, but reporters normally arrive just before a practice’s posted end to talk with players and coaches.

When reporters arrived at Memorial Stadium Monday, players were already off the field. Some were in street clothes. Clemson had run a 100-play scrimmage in 80 minutes, forcing sports information director Tim Bourret to apologize to media for an inaccurate time estimate.

“(Morris) said, ‘You were fast,’” quarterback Tajh Boyd said. “If he said we were fast, we were moving. We were getting plays in fast, moving fast, the defense couldn’t get set. It’s starting to come together.”

Pace of Tigers' offense helps defense

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In Morris’ first season, the Tigers averaged 75.4 plays per game, finishing second in the ACC in total offense (440.8 ypg) and scoring (33.6 ppg). They were 24h nationally in scoring offense and 26th in total offense.

Morris wants more, so he’s finding ways to squeeze more plays out of a game. More plays equals more chances to score.

Sometimes, the little things matter – and add up.

For example, after a play was over last year, a Clemson player typically set the ball on the ground.

Now, the Tigers are being trained to give the ball to a refree.

“Instead of having to pick it up, the referee can go spot it (more quickly) for play,” senior center Dalton Freeman explained. “They’re handing it to him, and hoping to cut off a couple of seconds, and get an extra play or two per game.”

Freeman noticed a major difference Monday as players cut loose in competitive situations.

“We’re so much further ahead than we have been,” he said. “Our tempo was killing the defense. We had to wait on the referees today. I can’t say enough about how fast we’re moving the ball and how much of an edge that’s giving us.”

Clemson contracts released: Clemson had already announced its 2012 assistant salaries – totaling $4.2 million – in mid-February, which includes $450,000 in raises for seven assistants as well as $2.1 million in salaries between Morris ($1.3 million) and defensive coordinator Brent Venables ($800,000).

But some interesting details came when the contracts were released to reporters late Monday.

Venables has a four-year deal, and if he is fired, the contract calls for him to receive the full amount remaining on his contract. The deal is subject to mitigation, meaning any buyout would be reduced by the amount that he makes from another job. In addition, he would have to report to Clemson every 30 days regarding his progress on finding another position.

Clemson also released a new bonus structure for its assistants. Assistants will receive $8,000 for playing in the ACC title game and $12,000 for winning it. They’ll receive two months’ base salary for making a BCS game and 2.5 months for making the BCS title game. They’d receive an extra $20,000 for winning the BCS title. Making the Chick-fil-A or Champs Sports Bowl earns a bonus equal to 1.5 months’ base salary. Other bowls including the Kraft Fight Hunger, Independence or Military Bowls would earn them one month’s base salary.

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