By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- With only one day left of fall camp; Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris feels that the team is ahead of schedule in his installation process, with over 75% of his offense already installed.
Throughout camp, multiple players have stood out to Morris for both their performance on the practice field and their leadership outside of practice, one of those players being sophomore receiver Nuk Hopkins.
“Coming out of spring practice, I knew what Nuk could do with the football in his hands or when you called his number,” Morris said. “But what was he going to do without the ball? That was the biggest concern I had, and the biggest concern during our meetings we had was the fact that he talks about wanting to be an All American and that’s great, that’s what we want for him but that’s going to entail a whole lot more than what you do with the ball, and he’s really worked hard at pushing himself when the ball’s not going his direction and he’s getting better.”
As for his new found leadership role on the Tiger’s offense, Morris couldn’t be more pleased with how quickly Hopkins stepped up and took the younger receivers under his wing.
“He’s coming into a leadership role, he’s taking these young guys under his wing,” Morris said. “He and Tajh have a great relationship and I really like his role on this football team right now and the leadership that he possesses.”
After Monday’s practice, Head Coach Dabo Swinney expressed that he was not pleased with the second string offensive line and the amount of progress they’ve made during fall camp. When asked, Morris agreed with Swinney and hopes that the second team will push the first team harder.
“I agree with Coach Swinney,” Morris said. “We thought we had some guys that were going to be really pushing, especially since we named starters coming into camp and they haven’t done that yet. We feel like we’ve developed at least one or two solid back-ups, but as far as players battling for certain positions we don’t have that right now and I don’t foresee that changing tomorrow on our last day of fall camp.”
As for Clemson’s star running back Andre Ellington, Morris is pleased with how well he’s practiced so far after having surgery on his foot in January.
“I still see the same bounce out of Andre that he had his first few practices back with the team,” Morris said. “They’re all a little sluggish and tired right now but they should be. We’ve worked hard and have the chance to wheel their legs back underneath them over the next week and get them ready for game day.”
The depth on the offensive line doesn’t seem to be too much of a concern for Morris, who knows that when September 3rd rolls around, he’ll have 11 guys who are excited and ready to play football.
“We’re going to put guys on the field that want to be there, that take pride in being there and play with a great passion,” Morris said. “I know that we’re going to have 11 and if we’ve got to cut and paste some guys and move them around to make sure we have the 11 that truly see playing football for Clemson as an honor, then we’ll have 11 great ones out there. “
As for the installation process, Morris believes that the team is far ahead of where he thought they would be coming out of summer.
“We’re well ahead of where I thought we would be,” Morris said. “I was basing everything off where we’d be coming out of summer and how much time these guys put in and where we’d start at, if we’d be able to pick up where we left off at in the spring, and we’re way ahead of where I thought we’d be. Everything that we’ve got installed right now, about 75% of the offense will be cut and pasted throughout the season; we won’t take it all into the first game. But I’m very pleased with where we are now in the offense installation process.”
Morris can only remember one or two days during fall camp that he had to back off of the installation process and reteach a few things and slow down.
“I continue to throw everything at them to see how much they can absorb,” Morris said. “And the more I threw at them, the better they got and the more they responded. Outside of those few days, I’ve continued to put it on them and they’ve done exceptionally well.”