Chad Morris is pulling hard for rising sophomore Isaiah Battle to win Clemson's starting left tackle spot.
But he has no intention of grading the Tigers' most physically gifted offensive lineman on the curve.
Morris said after the Tigers' practice on Tuesday that consistency of effort, attention and performance stand between Battle and bumping versatile senior Brandon Thomas to another spot on Clemson's offensive front.
"He's got to make up his mind," said Morris. "It's time for him to do it - to take ownership of that position and say this is my job."
Morris has no doubt that the 6-foot-6, 280-pound Battle is capable: he showed that when he was pressed into action in Clemson's Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU. When right tackle Gifford Timothy went down with an injury, Battle took over the left tackle spot, while Thomas moved to the right side.
Future for Brandon Thomas, Isaiah Battle
"We know what he can do because we saw him do it against one of the best defenses in the country," Morris said. "Now he has to parlay that into practice, and practice with that kind of attitude the whole time, and not just when he wants to."
Another area that Morris is keeping close tabs on is the backup quarterback competition between rising junior Cole Stoudt and redshirt freshman Chad Kelly.
On Tuesday, he had high praise for both contenders.
"Cole is having a great spring, and so is Chad," said Morris. "It's a great battle right now. They're pushing each other left and right. Cole's maturity level really shows. He's having a much better spring than he had last year."
Morris said that as would be expected, Stoudt's experience in the offense shows.
"They each have their own unique qualities," said Morris. "Chad is a little faster and Cole is a little more confident in what he's doing. He's more of a veteran player. Chad is in his first spring, and he's learning as he goes. He's making more impulse decisions right now. He's still a rookie in this thing."
Morris said there is no timetable for deciding the competition.
"I'm expecting it to be neck and neck all the way through fall camp," Morris said. "They're pushing each other, and that makes them better and us better."
Morris said the Tigers' wide receivers have had too many dropped balls this spring, but he praised the performance of rising junior Martavis Bryant both on and off the field. Bryant was left at home for the Tigers' bowl game because of issues with study hall attendance.
"We've got him getting a lot of playing time right now," Morris said. "I hate to brag on him, because as sure as I do something will go wrong. But he's doing really well. He's had a good semester, from an academic standpoint to everything.
"We all know what he's capable of doing. He figured out real quick that we can win without him. We're a better team with him, but we have other guys who can step in too."