CLEMSON – Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris identified one standout from the effort Saturday night versus Florida State.
When pressed on who didn’t perform, Morris paused.
“Well, Brandon Thomas is playing really well,” he repeated.
And that’s the story of a season-low output – by almost 100 yards (326 total) – and only producing seven points from Tajh Boyd and first-team outfit in the 51-14 loss.
“There’s 10 other positions that are playing inconsistently,” Morris said. “They’re not playing well at all. It starts and ends at the quarterback. We all know that.”
Morris says Tigers will bounce back, fight
Boyd’s 79.5 efficiency was by far his worst game in Memorial Stadium, accounting for more turnovers (3) than touchdowns (1) for only his second time as a starter (Georgia Tech 2011 the other).
“We wouldn’t be in the position we are today or where this program has been over the last two years without what Tajh Boyd has done for us,” Morris said. “We’ve all seen that. We’ve seen him play at his best, and we’ve seen him struggle at times and find his way and get out of it and get back on track. And that’s what you’ll see with him.”
“He’s a great competitor. He hurts as much as anybody, if not more than everybody. He knows it wasn’t his best performance, and unfortunately it was a big stage and just didn’t play well. It wasn’t just him though.”
The crux of Clemson’s problems? Seven games in, they can’t even get the basics down.
Technique, alignment, drops, errant throws – you name it, and the Tiger offense has probably struggled with it.
“Just simple mistakes that we’re making,” Morris said. “We’re about as simple as can be offensively right now. We’re unable to really push the envelope forward right now. For whatever reason, we’re not being consistent in the just the base offense.”
Also at a loss are the Tigers hitting the gridiron.
“I really couldn’t tell you,” Clemson left tackle Brandon Thomas said. “They just give us the plays to run and it’s our job to execute. This past Saturday we didn’t.”
More confounding, Thomas says they haven’t had any issues in practice leading up to these games.
“We have good weeks of practice,” Thomas said. “We don’t see the mistakes during the week. Somehow it happened this past Saturday. We’ll get it fixed going to Maryland this Saturday.”
In the last two versus Boston College and Florida State, the Tigers have mustered only 10 first-half points, after posting 70 in the previous couple against Wake Forest and Syracuse. On third down, they were a mediocre 5-for-15, while only having three red zone opportunities – missing out on 1-of-3 on an off-the-mark field goal.
Going into the B.C. game, the Tigers had three offensive turnovers total. By the end of the first half Saturday night, Clemson had matched that – and added one more by the game’s closing minutes. They have five first-half turnovers over the last two games.
“Anytime you spot anybody just a free gimme on the first play of the game or a free walk-in touchdown – I don’t care who you’re playing (it hurts),” Morris said, “and definitely a team of that caliber. It’s hard to overcome those type of things. You spot them 14 points and give them those type of things, and still rallied back and had it 17-7 and go down on a 12-play drive.
“Then we get the ball in back-to-back possessions at midfield and we’re unable to do anything with it. At that point, you go up 17-14 and the crowd is back in it in the second quarter. I think it’s a totally different ballgame at that point.”
Maybe as big a problem as any is the Tigers’ third-year offensive coordinator can’t quite identify the root causes.
“There’s a lot of inconsistencies right now all over,” said Morris. “It’s hard to put a thumb on it and this is the reason why. Obviously it starts and ends with the quarterback. It filters to the offensive line and we’ve got to be able to catch the ball on the outside.
“We have scored this season, but just the last two weeks have been very disappointing.”