CLEMSON – Chad Morris really has one game – plus a couple snaps against S.C State two Saturdays ago – to evaluate his Clemson offense from.
He did, however, see enough to know they needed to ratchet up the intensity in the off week. The results? Morris is pretty pleased going into Thursday night’s ACC opener in Raleigh.
“I think we’ve had some really good practices over the last 10 days,” said Morris. “We strained them. We taxed them in some areas to see how they would respond and it was good to see. Our biggest thing right now is we have to gain some continuity.”
Tigers taking good practices into State
“We have a game under our belt essentially with our starting group. We got a little bit of the second game,” Morris said. “We’ve got to be able to get some continuity and get into a flow of the game with all of them and that’s what I hope to gain from this game. We’ve developed some depth and that’s been good to see.”
Saturday marked the start of the unusual game week, coming off a bye going into a Thursday nighter. Morris says he’s even got lost in the new setup.
“Coach (Dabo Swinney) has done a really good job at pushing things back,” he said. “To us, this is like a Wednesday. I didn’t even know I had a press conference today. We’ve tried to do a good job of relaying that to our players and in the way we’ve practice. We’ve strained them really hard and got into a game routine on Saturday. That’s good to see.”
After two games and a bye early, Clemson will now play seven-straight weeks in conference play, which the Tigers are looking to as a positive offensively.
“They’re ready to get in the flow of the season and a rhythm and routine,” Morris said. “Hopefully Thursday night we can get this thing into a routine and back into a flow of it.”
Receivers are under the spotlight this week after No. 2 target Charone Peake went down with a torn ACL last week. Depth and inexperience is certainly an issue now.
Sunday’s depth chart release showcased three freshmen receivers as backups on the two-deep in first-years T.J. Green (behind Sammy Watkins), Mike Williams (behind Martavis Bryant) and then redshirt freshman Germone Hopper (behind Adam Humphries).
Moving into Peake’s role, the junior Humphries is no stranger to being a factor in the Clemson offense. He is the Tigers’ second-active leader in receptions (48) and has 775 snaps under his belt. Morris says the impact his promotion is losing versatility.
“We all know what Adam is capable of doing and what it does is it hurts us from a depth standpoint,” Morris said. “You ask your Mike Williams and T.J. Green – those guys have to step up and be thrust more into a role. G-Hop will become the first guy in, where Adam was that guy. It was good to see G-Hop get the confidence and play at a high level (against S.C. State).”
Thomas says '11 State game is motivation
Hopper hauled in his first career catch and then five more for 66 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ last contest.
“G-Hop is a guy that needed to have a good fall camp and needed to earn the trust of the coaches,” Morris said. “He did that. We knew his time was going to come. He’s as explosive a player as we’ve got.”
Counting on a pair of true freshmen in Green and Williams on the road and under the lights isn’t ideal for the third-year Tigers’ OC, but he believes the talent will shine through.
“They’re going to be very good players for us,” Morris said. “It’s just going to take some time, but unfortunately, they’re going to have to play and a lot earlier than what we were anticipating. They both have the opportunity to change the game in how they play and how physical they are.
“It’s just a matter of them knowing where they’re supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there.”
Also in the offensive personnel moves was tight end Stanton Seckinger ascending up to No. 1 on the depth chart. The redshirt sophomore is 4-for-4 on targets to receptions for 50 yards (12.5 yards per reception) and a touchdown. Going into the year, he had four career receptions and a touchdown.
“Stanton provides a big mismatch,” Morris said. “He’s got great speed and he’s a tough kid. He moves well. You’re still going to see Sam Cooper and Darrell Smith, but that’ll work with Stanton in there.”