CLEMSON — Chad Morris had reason to be excited Saturday night. His Clemson offense rolled up 47 points and 601 yards of total offense – the eighth-best total in program history – on Georgia Tech, as the Tigers rolled into their open week 5-1. What’s more, Clemson converted 13 of 19 third down opportunities and impressed in short-yardage situations, certain to make Morris happy.
Morris discussed the productive day with reporters late Saturday afternoon.
On third down success: “We’ve put so much emphasis on third down, that’s been our money down. We’ve been really good on third downs over the last couple years we’ve been here. That’s been one of the downs we’ve been really good at and taken a lot of pride in from day one. On Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays we talk about third down and converting and winning those. But I have to credit it more to short yardage. Third and short and all the other downs will take care of themselves. I thought we executed our short yardage game really well.”
On slowing the pace with Georgia Tech’s flexbone on the other side: “Yeah, we did a little bit. When Brandon Ford went out (with an ankle injury) we had to tend to some personnel changes, slow things down a bit. I don’t know how many snaps we had, 93. We slowed down a bit.”
Did you plan on slowing down before the game: “I knew with eight minutes left in the second quarter we were sitting at 45 snaps, and we knew we had a lot of snaps in the first half. We told our guys..I don’t think we played that fast. I thought we were very off early in the game. I didn’t think there were the passion that needed to be there. I didn’t think they were relentless enough. I was very disappointed in the way we started this game the first two drives. We scored on the second drive. I didn’t’ think we could get in the flow of it and I didn’t think Tajh (Boyd) had very good control over it. That was one of the things we really challenged them on, look, come on, the only thing that’s going to stop us is ourselves. We’ve got to pick our tempo up.”
On Boyd’s slow start: “We all expect Tajh to complete every pass he throws. I’m as guilty as anybody, but he’s human. I think he showed that today. At times he wasn’t on. And early on, I needed to give him some passes he could complete, give himself some confidence builders. He found a groove later on.
On the screen pass INT: I don’t think Tajh did a good enough job creating depth and getting depth into it. We had it open. I talk about never let a defensive lineman intercept a screen pass. He’s not rushing. You’ve got to create more depth and he didn’t do a very good job of that.”
On Sammy Watkins’ struggles: “He’s played two and a half games to this point. This was his second full game. There were times Tajh called stuff to him, and he had a drop. He overthrew a couple. And it is what it is. He might not have gotten as many snaps as he’d have gotten if he was in complete game shape. I don’t think he’s in complete game shape just yet. I that’ll come. “
On Tech’s defensive looks: “They did things up front, twisted their front, brought their pressure. I didn’t think we were very physical at times and we had to challenge our guys on that. That was kind of disappointing. You had to get ugly sometimes and that’s OK. I was proud to see the way we were able to run the ball at the end.”
On Nuk Hopkins’ day: “Nuk, he brings it every day. He’s gotten so much better. He’s been able to play without the football. I know he can catch the ball, and we’re going to throw it to him. You can’t help but not throw it to him. But what are you going to do without the ball. That’s what I’m more concerned with, watching him. I’m going to high-five him when he’s catching passes but I’ll hug his neck when he’s out there blocking.”