FSU showdown next week, Morris is keeping his Tigers humble, focused

Clemson's Martavis Bryant runs with teammates toward the sidelines from the team locker room tunnel at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Martavis Bryant runs with teammates toward the sidelines from the team locker room tunnel at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.

CLEMSON – Chad Morris said Boston College will have his team’s focus this week…on the day that the ACC announced the No. 3 Tigers and No. 6 Florida State Seminoles will meet in primetime in Death Valley next Saturday night (8 p.m., ABC).

To stay on the task at hand, all he says he has to do is turn on the film.

“I can promise you that we did enough wrong that we’re going to hold this team’s feet to the fire,” the third-year Clemson offensive coordinator said. “To get cleared up and ready to go for a very physical Boston College team. They’re going to watch video, and just because they’re coming here doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over for us.

“It’s going to be a tough football game – I’m telling you.”

BC 'D' much like Syracuse in pressure

None

The numbers says otherwise, where the Tigers opened up as a three-touchdown favorite – and that’s moved to 24-plus now.

The Eagles, at 3-2, don’t boast much for eye-catching stats, ranking 78th in total defense and 94th in total offense.

If B.C. has anything going for them, they match strength versus strength and weakness v. weakness on Morris’ side of the ball.

Both with five-contest samples, the Tigers are 66th nationally in rushing offense with an 88th-best yards per carry (3.9), meeting a Eagles’ defense surrendering 203.6 yards a game (104th in the nation).

They do keep opponents to 211.8 passing yards a game, as opposed to Clemson’s 343 per (436.5 the last two).

Morris says this Eagles team, under new defensive coordinator Don Brown, has changed it up since the Tigers scorched their secondary for 367 yards passing last season in Chestnut Hill.

“They’re disguising their coverages real well,” said Morris. “They’re bringing a lot of pressure. They’re giving you a lot of looks and moving for where they’re bringing their pressure from.”

Meeting pressure again is a Tigers’ o-line in transition.

For a second-straight week, Clemson rolled out a starting offensive line of Brandon Thomas (junior, left tackle), Kalon Davis (junior, left guard), Ryan Norton (sophomore, center), Tyler Shatley (junior, right guard) and Shaq Anthony (sophomore, right tackle). They surrendered four sacks versus the Orange, which by percentage of blitzes faced wasn’t terrible.

Davis and Anthony were again subs for starters recovering from injury, left guard David Beasley (ankle) and right tackle Gifford Timothy (concussion), but Clemson’s third-year OC says that reserve tag may not be there for long the way they’re playing.

“Giff came back and got some playing time and showed that’s he’s definitely competing,” Morris said, “and trying to get back to Giff we saw last year. As it stands right now, Shaq is the guy.”

“(Kalon) playing extremely well right now,” added Morris. “He’s playing as consistent and as well as any offensive lineman we have right now. He’s very intelligent. His playing time has dramatically increased.

“We’re getting David Beasley back and healthy. That’s going to help, but Kalon is not going to be that’s going to roll over and give up.”

Anthony, a Wren product, is embracing the competitive atmosphere upfront.

“Competition is always going to be hot,” he said. “I respect my competition and my competition respects me. Every week, every practice you go out there you got to be ready. You never know when it’s going to be your last play anyway – we’ve had a lot of injuries.

“You have to make the most of every opportunity and that’s what I’m doing now.”

Morris says his target in the run game is 200-plus yards a game, which the Tigers haven’t eclipsed yet this season (did so five times last year). He hopes last week (3.5 yards per carry) will be an exception to the rule this season.

“I knew last week we weren’t going to be as effective,” said Morris. “That’s pretty tough-sledding with the pressure they brought and we knew we were going to have to win on the outside. As the game went on, I thought our run game got better.”

He says the pecking order has formed with Zac Brooks and Rod McDowell ahead of the group, who’ve combined for almost half of the Tigers’ yards there this season (432).

“Zac is definitely working his way into it. He provides good pass protection,” Morris said. “He’s becoming a well-rounded back. There’s no question about that. He and Hot Rod provide a very good 1-2 punch right there right now, with C.J. (Davidson) and D.J. Howard behind them.”

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