Malzahn influence, talking to other coaches
CLEMSON — Saturday night, Chad Morris will unveil Hurry Up No Huddle 2.0 on the college football world.
Clemson averaged 33.6 points per game and won its first ACC title since 1991 in Morris’ first season running the offense, but CU finished 2-4 and faltered down the stretch.
Morris visited Oklahoma State and Nevada, seeking tweaks in his offense that included using the Pistol formation and finding more ways to utilize star wideout Sammy Watkins, who will miss the first two games on suspension for a May drug arrest.
Monday, Morris began his typical weekly meetings with reporters, discussing a number of topics, including a reshuffled offensive line.
He also talked about an improved running game, Tajh Boyd’s encore, and the status of several backups and true freshmen.
On the need for an improved running game: “Whether you’re playing, Auburn, whoever you may be playing, it’s important to run the ball regardless. You’ve got to run, in our scheme, what we do. We want to run the football, it’s as balanced as possible. Whoever you’re playing, running the football is extremely important to establish the run game.”
On senior tight end Brandon Ford: “Brandon had a real good summer, he’s had a good fall camp, he’s a guy that presents lots of challenges. Because of the way he plays, the speed he plays at. That’s his MO, that’s what he does. He’s extremely physical and playing well. He had a good fall camp. He’s a guy that played a lot last year, but now he’s in a starting role and how is he going to respond? I’m excited to see Brandon. I think Brandon’s going to be a guy who’s going to have a chance to be one of the top players in the country this season.”
On Boyd’s progression: “Nobody’s talked about Tajh yet. I’m going to talk about him because I’m excited for him. I’m extremely excited for Tajh. I think Tajh has prepared himself for this. The ownership he’s taken in this team, not just offensively but defensively, as a leader of this football team, I’m excited to see him. He’s a veteran player now. A year ago, this time he was a rookie. We were talking about, ‘Who’s he going to be?’ Well, he’ s a veteran player now. He’s got 14 games underneath him, two springs and two fall camps. You expect him to be that veteran guy, who manages things cool, calm, collected on the field. So that’s what excites me, to be able to watch him in a whole other element to see how he can respond. Tajh is at his best when he’s having fun on the field, playing a game, that he loves. It’s going to be really exciting for us to watch him and watch him perform.”
On Boyd responding to adversity: “We’ve talked a lot about it. A lot of that has to do with the fact that you are now a veteran player. Some of that adversity you may have faced in camp, in spring ball. We’ve put a lot of pressure on him to see how he’s going to respond, to make sure it’s all about the next play. It’s that windshield theory. It’s more important to see where you’re going than where you came from. We’ve talked a lot about that, we talk about it daily. At the same point, we’re going to kick it off at 7 o’clock Saturday night and he’ll be ready. He’s excited about this, he now knows what to expect, and I’m excited to watch him and Andre (Ellington0 and those guys. These guys have put a lot of hard work in, as has Auburn. It’s two great opponents going after each other. I think it’s going to be a great venue.”
On Boyd’s interceptions during scrimmages: “A lot of it was situational, whether it be the last play of the game. Those things we talk about in our meeting rooms, understanding where to go with the football. Learning from it. That’s why we get out there and practice, why we get in those situations, why we put the pressure on him. To see how he’s going to respond. I think you’ll find Tajh, if you remember last year with Tajh, Tajh was at his best when he was just playing and wasn’t trying to do too much.
“Now being a veteran player, Tajh has got to understand that not every play is going to score. Not every play is designed to score. It’s his job to manage the game and move the chains. That’s with his feet, with his eyes, with his arm. Whatever it may be, manage the game and move the chains. Nobody cares how you got your team in the end zone, just get them in the end zone. I think that’s extremely important, and those are things we’ve talked about. To see him and the fall camp he had this year, I’m excited about watching Tajh and being out there to let him run it.”
On Boyd being more of a running threat: “Is he more of a running threat now? Absolutely. He’s got his weight down, and he’s done a good job running the football. It’s about managing the game and moving the chains. If you keep those sticks moving with your feet, your arm, your eyes, whatever it is, that’s something he’s done a good job of this fall camp, to be more elusive.”
How do you see the backup tailback roles shaking out?: “ I think you’ll see both D.J. (Howard) and Hot Rod (McDowell) in there. Zac Brooks will play, and how much I don’t know. He’ll definitely get to play. He’s the bigger back of all of them. Hot Rod has probably had, of all the running backs and the growth from the spring to the fall camp, has been impressive. He’s really earned a lot of trust of the coaching staff and earned a lot of trust of his teammates. So I think with the tempo we play at, you’re going to have to play them. We expect to be one of the fastest teams in the country, as far as getting the ball off. That’s just what we do.”
Would Tajh be your second-leading rusher, ideally? “No, I’d rather it be one of those other guys. I want to make sure Tajh is able to move the chains with his feet and his eyes.”
On the pistol formation taking pressure off the offensive line: “It’s a formation to us. It has helped the offensive line in that regard. We’re not exclusive pistol, but we’ve run it a little bit. We’re still going to run our hip-stack alignments, and I think it gives you a different look for those guys.”
On Cole Stoudt: “ Coming out of spring, it was a wide-open battle. Coming into fall camp, we thought it was Cole and Morgan (Roberts) to battle through. We knew Chad (Kelly) was coming in. You get into fall camp and Cole wins the job, he wins it outright at the No.2 spot. He had a good camp. He’s got a lot of things he needs to improve on. Morgan’s still a guy and Chad’s still a guy that we hope we don’t have to use. Chad has the ability to push them all. That’s promising. We want to make sure we keep Chad with the edge that he has, and has had since he’s gotten here. I know Chad’s going to travel with us and our plans are not to play him, but he’s a guy that’s going to continue to grow and be put into some roles where, in fact, if we had to have him he’d be ready. But Cole is a guy that has earned the No.2 job and done a good job with it, we’ll see.”
On Germone Hopper’s redshirt status: “ It’s the same thing as with Chad. Unless we have an unforeseen circumstance.”
How many backups on the offensive line do you feel comfortable with?: “ I think Kalon (Davis) is one of them you’re going to have to use. Shaq Anthony has had a good, started out with a really good camp, like most young kids he hit a wall. He’s a young guy we feel confident in. Ryan Norton’s another one. Ryan, we’ve moved Ryan from center and he’s had some center and some guard work. He’s a young man we would feel very confident in using. He’ s a guy we feel could eventually wind up being in our top five (linemen) before it’s over with. Right now he’s not there.”