CLEMSON — Chad Morris wasn’t very pleased with his offensive line last week. On the heels of Clemson rushing for 135 yards against Virginia Tech and only 101 against Wake Forest, the line put together several “lackadaisical” and “lethargic” practices that left Morris “very disgruntled.”
With the children of the Tigers’ coaching staff in attendance for trick-or-treat, Morris unleashed a Halloween-themed rant on the linemen.
“I just didn’t sense the urgency we needed to have,” he said. “I had the opportunity to challenge them. I told them I could care less if anyone got any trick-or-treat candy that night. … I told them I hoped the defensive kids took all the candy. They didn’t deserve any of them that day.”
Reserve guard Kalon Davis confirmed it, saying, “Guys were looking back and going, 'Oh, man, the defensive guys really are taking all the candy!’”
The push worked. The line paved the way for the second-best offensive night in Clemson history, as the Tigers rolled up 718 yards of offense in a 56-20 rout of Duke, the second-most in CU history, 10th most in ACC history and high for an ACC team this season.
Clemson rushed and passed for 300 yards in the same game for only the second time in program history.
“It was just a challenge, something to get them going,” Morris said. “We’re going to need that over these final 19 days we have. I told them at that point we’re going to run the football Saturday night, we’re going to start out running the football Saturday night, and we’re going to put it on you guys. If we go three and out, we’re going to go three and out because we ran the ball three straight times, and I’ll be very disappointed when you guys get to the sidelines.”
Challenge accepted, said junior right guard Tyler Shatley.
“We knew it was going to be on us,” Shatley said. “We had to decide to step up. It was going to be on our backs and we needed to play our best.”
Shatley admitted Morris’ move was the right call at the right time.
“I think that’s what we needed, to be challenged,” he said. “At the beginning of the season we were challenged and I think we might have lost sight of what we were going for. It was nice to regain our sights this week.”
Catanzaro a Groza semifinalist: Clemson junior kicker Chandler Catanzaro is one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, which honors the nation’s top kicker. Catanzaro is Clemson’s leading scorer this season and has made 12 of 13 field goals and 43 of 44 extra points. He recently ended a streak of 20 consecutive made field goals dating back to 2011, best in Clemson history.
Boyd, Thomas win ACC honors: A pair of Clemson juniors took home weekly ACC honors for their roles in the Duke rout. Quarterback Tajh Boyd won ACC offensive back of the week honors, and left tackle Brandon Thomas was the league’s offensive lineman of the week. Boyd completed 16 of 23 passes for 344 yards and five touchdowns. He finished with 416 yards of total offense and a 240 pass efficiency rating, third-best in Clemson history.
Thomas graded out at 95 percent with five knockdown blocks in his 62 snaps, the highest grade of his career and season best for a Clemson offensive lineman. The Tigers rushed for 334 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per attempt.
Clemson-N.C. State on a six-day hold: ESPN and the ACC announced Monday that the five league games set for Nov. 17 under ESPN’s control have been placed on a six-day hold, meaning kickoff times and networks will not be announced until Sunday. That includes Clemson’s visit from N.C. State, South Florida at Miami, Virginia Tech at Boston College, Duke at Georgia Tech and Florida State at Maryland. The games will kick off at either noon, 12:30, 3 or 3:30 p.m.