CLEMSON — Two days ago, Chad Morris saw plenty of All-Americans in shirts and shorts.
Now that Clemson’s offense has strapped on some pads, Morris’ opinions are a bit more mixed.
The Tigers’ second-year offensive coordinator sees some positives, but he also has areas of concern – especially on a young offensive line.
“You put the shoulder pads on, you kind of start seeing the guys that like to bite and those that don’t. Some of them were biting real hard in shorts and shirts and they’re not biting right now, so we’ve got to figure it out when the pads come on,” Morris said Tuesday following Clemson’s fourth practice. “Those are things we try to talk to them about. Look, those are the things that we’ve got to make sure we get better at and we work toward. If a guy’s not going to bite with the pads on it’s hard to coach that. We’ll see.”
Morris has been impressed with returning starters Dalton Freeman and Brandon Thomas, noting that Freeman has had limited reps so far as coaches try to prepare backups like redshirt freshman Ryan Norton.
“I’ve seen a few guys that are doing it,” he said. “Other guys are trying, we’ve got to keep working on the steps and techniques. There’s definitely potential there; we’ve just got to keep working hard.”
Redshirt freshman backup left tackle Shaq Anthony continues to impress.
“His name keeps popping up,” Morris said. “He’s having a really good camp.”
Other young linemen, Morris said, need to grow up.
“. Some of them were All-Americans in shorts and shirts. And some of them you have to look and see if they’re even out there right now,” he said. “…We’ve got to have some guys step up up front. It’s time for David Beasley to step up. It’s time, it’s his turn. (Sophomore left guard) Kalon Davis is another one, that’s the thing. Those are the guys we have to have step up. (Sophomore right tackle) Giff Timothy is another guy. Those are the guys we’re challenging.”
With returning national freshman of the year and AP All-American Sammy Watkins sidelined for the first two games, Morris also needs greater contributions from fellow sophomores Martavis Bryant and Charone Peake.
He has been impressed with both so far, but needs more consistency from both.
“We’ve got to have more consistency in our ball-catching,” Morris said. “We’ve been pretty good in our four days, but we’ve got guys who are dropping too many balls. I don’t know if it’s lack of focus. We’ve got to be more consistent in that regard.”
Redshirt freshman Stanton Seckinger, a converted receiver, appears to be making a move as Brandon Ford’s backup at tight end. Morris said Seckinger has gained 16 pounds since arriving on campus a year ago and is working with sophomore Sam Cooper in the tight end rotation.
“(Seckinger) gives us the athleticism, the ability to stretch the field vertically,” Morris said. “I’ve been pleased with Stanton. He’s a tough kid who doesn’t mind sticking his hat in there. He’s going to have a chance; he’s just got to keep pushing.”
The same could be said for many of Clemson’s younger players, who Morris would rather not identify.
“I’m afraid if I mention them, there may not be a Sharpie in four counties,” he said. “They may buy them and sign autographs. We’re not crowing anyone yet.”