Even without Watkins, offense thriving

Football - Chad Morris

Photo by Mark Crammer

Football - Chad Morris

Morris on Tajh and Nuk's connection


— No Sammy Watkins? No problem. Chad Morris was perfectly happy with his offense following Saturday’s 52-27 rout of Ball State. The Tigers could have named their score after rolling up 45 first-half points, the program’s most since 1981, and had 500-plus yards of total offense for the second consecutive week while playing plenty of young players.

Morris discussed the good and bad – mostly good – about his offense afterward with reporters.

On the run game: “With the success we had running the football last week, teams were going to play us one of two ways. They were going to stack the box and try and put the extra hat in the box, take the run game away from you. They did that and forced us to throw the football. That’s what you ask for. You want your running game to help your passing game and you want your passing game to help your running game. So I still think we rushed for (154) yards. That’s not a bad night at all.”

On Tajh Boyd and DeAndre Hopkins’ connection: “It’s something you saw last year. They’re very comfortable with each other, they know where the other is at. They speak the same language, so to speak. They’re on the same page. It’s pretty special to watch those two guys work together.

On the offense capitalizing on turnovers: “I thought the way we came out was really good. 12 plays and we come back with an eight-play drive and score two touchdowns, I was very pleased with how we came out. To be able to capitalize on defensive turnovers, that’s what you ask for. That’s what a championship-caliber offensive football team, able to capitalize over the turnovers we were able to get.”

On Boyd’s day: “This is two weeks in a row, you look at Tajh’s performance last week with 24 of 34, he had what, eight drops? He very well could have been in the 85-90 percent completion rate. I thought he was very efficient today, I thought he operated the system exactly like it needed to be. Running the football on a key third down again, that’s what it’s going to take. I was pleased with Tajh. No turnovers. That’ s a great day right there, as much as we preach about ball security. That’s something we’ll high-five on. “

Do you think you took a step forward? “I think we improved it. Playing this opponent, they’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. I’ve been on that side. I’ve been to Tulsa when we go to Notre Dame and play and had nothing to lose. The type of team we were playing and what they had to play for when they came in here, it was very critical we came out and started strong. I thought our offense was really efficient. We scored on all but one drive in the first half.”

Did anything surprise you? “It surprised me that we got a lot of guys some quality experience. I thought a lot of guys got to perform. I thought (right tackle) Shaq Anthony stepped up this week. It was a challenge for him all week. He’d won the job earlier in camp and lost it. To see him perform at the level he did in camp, I was proud of Shaq Anthony.

On the line overall: “We protected very well. I thought they picked up that they were bringing a lot of different fronts and pressures on us and I thought we did a good job picking that up. You see them getting better. Dalton Freeman, Brandon Thomas, Tyler Shatley, you see these guys really growing up. I’m excited about the guys. We’ve still got a long way to go. We ain’t going to order rings or hand out trophies just yet, but all you can do is control what’s in front of you. This one’s no longer in front of us. We’re going to enjoy this one and look forward to next week. “

On the play of reserves like Kalon Davis “I thought he needed (to perform). He’s another one who won the job in camp and lost it. To be able to see him come in and perform… I’ll have to evaluate the film but he got some quality reps today. Great evaluation on tape for him.”

On Brandon Thomas: “I think Brandon Thomas is a veteran. He’s a guy we expect this out of, we demand this out of. And for him to step up and communicate, I was very impressed with Brandon. The second half he was really doing a lot of coaching on the sideline. Really helping those young guys. And that’s something we challenged them all at halftime. Brandon had a good productive day. He’s got to get better. He’s a veteran guy. We’ve got to lean on him, we’ve got to demand more out of him.”

On young linemen like Isaiah Battle and Joe Gore: “They look good in the uniforms, I’ll tell you that. They do. They’re big old boys. Still young, trying to figure it out. It’s like a crossword puzzle or jigsaw puzzle, trying to figure out all the pieces, and every now and then they get a little frustrated because they lose a piece and can’t figure it out and it’s under the box lid. They’ve got to continue to let us coach them hard, and they’ve got unbelievable talent. It was really good to see those guys get in there in a live situation and now they’ve got some experience under their belt.”

On Charone Peake: “I think Charone has played as good as anybody. I really do. I think Charone has played with a lot of confidence, and I’m proud of him. You saw him this spring and continue to see it through fall camp.”

On Hopkins and if he has shown he’s a legit No.1 receiver: “Nuk, there’s no question. Nuk’s one of the best receivers in the country, no dobut. Now with us getting our full arsenal back, getting Sammy back, it should create a lot more opportunities for both of them and those guys in the middle. I think Nuk and Tajh have something special. We create so many mismatches.”

On playing well without Sammy Watkins: “That’s expectation. That’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s why we’re here. That’s why this system is in its second year. Give them credit, they’ve got a very explosive football team. We knew we were going to get our opportunities. It’s just a matter of what are we going to do to capitalize on it. I’m proud of our guys, but this is a 2-0 start. That’s all it is is a 2-0 start. Come tomorrow it’s not going to mean a whole lot.”

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Comments » 1

michtiger writes:

Good report. Yes the offense is working well and the OL is improving. Would like to hear more about defense. They are just ok. Look at rushing yards given up and especially the busted big plays. Hope they show a little more improvement. We can play offense with anyone but others will be able to stay with us if the D does not tighten up. Can not give up uncontested passes and 40 and 50 yard runs.

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