CLEMSON — Here’s guessing Chad Morris wasn’t much fun to be around this week.
Clemson’s offense put up its worst output of the season Saturday, gaining only 295 yards in a 38-17 win over Virginia Tech. Morris, the Tigers’ second-year offensive coordinator, wants his group refocused; he quipped Monday that “some of our guys might have been walking around signing too many autographs and getting too excited about themselves…. We’ve got to put the Sharpies up this week.”
Morris discussed the short week, the health of Tajh Boyd, Wake Forest’s defense, Sammy Watkins’ resurgence and a young offensive line with reporters Monday.
On fixing issues in a short week: “I think a lot of it is the fact of them watching, pointing it out in film study and having them ready to go for those guys, having themselves mentally prepared, and get that taste out of their mouth of not playing well. You say that and you don’t play well, you’re still able to win a ballgame, that’s a great day. There’s no such thing as an ugly win. You may not play well, you may play ugly, but a win is great. We’re extremely excited about a win, let’s not lose focus of that. But for us to achieve the goals we’ve set, for ourselves here, we’ve got to play better than that. It is showing that when you’re not on your game, you’re still able to score 31 points and see our defense step up and make some stops for us, that was huge for a team win. I think that’s much-needed. I think some of our guys might have been walking around signing too many autographs and getting too excited about themselves. We’ve got to refocus those guys. We’ve got to put the Sharpies up this week.”
On lack of downfield shots in the passing game: “I just think we were trying to pick up first downs. Holy cow, we had six three-and-outs. And anytime you have a three-and-out, you take three more plays off the board. We snapped the ball 67 times and had six three-and-outs. That’s 18 more plays. I was trying to get first downs. We’re missing things. You can say what you want to, it was a complete effort. It was as much my fault as it was those guys’, too. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in a situation to be more successful. We had guys open, we’ve got to do a better job of hitting those. Tajh (Boyd) has done a good job of it this year. He couldn’t get in a rhythm, and therefore when he couldn’t get in a rhythm, nobody could get in a rhythm.”
On Boyd’s health after sustaining a shoulder stinger: “He’s good. He worked out yesterday. He’ll be ready to go. I was proud of the way he ran the football late in the game, when we needed it the most. The third and one we couldn’t knock them off the ball to pick up the first down, was disappointing. I should have run the quarterback there. I shouldn’t have to do that. We’ve been good in short yardage and we didn’t hit our goal. You’ll have to cut his legs off to keep him from playing in this one.”
Did you sense they would be lethargic following the open week: “No, not from talking with them, having our meetings that morning. The open week was great, don’t get me wrong. We love the open week, it’s a chance to recharge, get going. A lot has to do with your timing gets off a little bit, just out of sync. I think you saw that a little bit. You take off and get your quarterback hit two of the first three plays. He’s done such a great job of setting his rush points and stepping up in the pocket all year and you didn’t see that at any point Saturday, for whatever reason. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the first three plays, but I’ve got to do a better job of putting him in a better situation than the first three plays. It ain’t all on those guys.”
On a lack of fundamentals by the offensive line: “Just complete (lack of) mechanics. Not just from (the offensive line) but the quarterback as well. We missed some pickups in pass protection. It was something really uncharacteristic of what we’ve done this year. (Virginia Tech) didn’t do anything different than what we thought they were going to do. We just weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
Impressions of Wake Forest’s defense: “They haven’t changed what they were doing from last year. They’re an odd-front, they’re going to do a lot of movement up front. I thought coming into our game last year their secondary was as good as any secondary we had in our conference. Then after playing them I thought the same thing. They’ve got a lot of those guys back. And up front, they do a lot of movement, they’re very disruptive, they bring a lot of pressure. Then they’ll just rush three and drop eight. We’ve got to do a good job of picking up the pressure they bring and movement. They do a really good job of just staying flat down the line in their movements. They’ve played well defensively so again it should be a great challenge for us.”
How does being the road team in a short-preparation week affect you: “I’m excited. I think if you talked to our offensive guys, they’re excited to get back out there, again from the performance they put out there which was so uncharacteristic in that you couldn’t get anything going. Those guys are ready to get back going. Yesterday was as good a day as we’ve had and I anticipate the same for the next two days. I’m glad it’s a short week. I know Tajh is glad it’s a short week. He shared that with me several times that he’s ready to get back and go into an environment we’re going to go in and play. It’s a great challenge for us.”
On the offensive line’s inconsistency: “It’s part of the fact there’s not a lot of depth, there’s not a lot of competition that’s pushing the guys back there. They’re not purposely coming out there, we didn’t purposely give up a sack. There’s just not a lot of competition. I will say this, they’ve played well in some areas. Everyone wants to take the offensive line out and throw rocks at them but that’s not the case. They’ve worked hard but we need to work harder. Demand more from a coaching standpoint. Hey, we’ve got to do a better job. I’ve got to do a better job as a playcaller. We’ve got to do a better job at quarterback. We’ve got to do a better job at running back and receivers. To attain the goals we’ve set for ourselves, everyone’s got to do a better job. We’ve got to play more consistent in all areas.”
On Sammy Watkins’ increased involvement: “I was glad to see him get back into somewhat of a flow of the game. I thought we had a chance down our sidelines and underthrew him. That probably would have been a big ball, a second-down call. We didn’t step forward in the pocket, we left it short and had a chance for a big play. It was good to see him get going again. I saw some of the explosiveness he has. Still waiting on him to get one out of there and take it the length of the field, and that’s coming. But it was good to see him let it come natural.”
On running between the tackles: “I thought it was very inconsistent. It was sporadic. If we could have gotten (a key) third and one it would have been better. We were able to run the quarterback at times, that was good. It was inconsistency. A lot had to do with the fact (Tech) had a good plan but we’ve got to get better.”