With the 'camp' portion of preseason practice winding down, it was a 'no news is good news' kind of day for Chad Morris and the Clemson offense.
Morris had no injuries to report, and said the offense is making progress, but "still has work to do."
Notable, he said, is the pressure sophomore Zac Brooks is putting on Rod McDowell for the starting running back spot.
"Zac is having as good a camp as anybody," said Morris. "He's a little bit bigger guy, and he's moving the chains. He catches the ball well, and he's doing some good things in pass protection. He's pushing for playing time right now."
Morris said that Brooks, who was one of the top performers in the Tigers' first scrimmage, has become a more confident runner.
"He's a bigger body - he can be a more punishing type runner," Morris said.
Also worth noting:
- Morris said that while the Tiger wide receivers may not have the proven top end they had a year ago in future first-round draft pick Nuk Hopkins, the group as a whole may be even stronger than it was a year ago.
- Redshirt sophomore Ryan Norton has emerged with a clear edge over redshirt freshman Jay Guillermo for the starting center spot. Both players are still inconsistent, he said, beginning with the mechanics of snapping the ball. And he said both need to do a better job of moving on to the next play once they make a mistake.
- Tajh Boyd is high on freshman wide receiver Mike Williams, who he says he showing a good understanding of the offense to go with his impressive ball-skills. Among the freshman wide-outs, Williams is the odds-on favorite to play this season, as T.J. Green nurses a knee injury and Kyrin Priester still awaits NCAA clearance to practice and enroll.
- Morris said that overall the offensive line remains competitive, and that he's looking for someone to push Gifford Timothy at right tackle. "We thought it would be Joe Gore, but it hasn't been Joe Gore," Morris said. Next in line for a shot is Eric Mac Lain, who is now working exclusively at tackle after having practiced at guard last week. "We need someone to make Giff a little uncomfortable," Morris said.
- Tony Steward says he's pain-free, and the healthiest he's been since his junior year in high school, when he emerged as one of the nation's premier linebacker prospects. Steward says he has a better understanding of Brent Venables' defensive scheme, which is helping him to play smarter and faster. He said the Tigers are working toward having an interchangeable set of linebackers who share playing time on relatively equal terms. "We're not there yet, but that's what Coach Venables would like to see," he said.
- Morris had praise for senior offensive guard Tyler Shatley, who he says plays with an attitude he'd like to see from more of his players. "He's mean, and he doesn't care," Morris said. "When I say that, I mean that he gives everything he's got every play and it really means something to him."