By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Last Monday, Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris told members of the media that he was most interested in how his offense would respond against the Troy Trojans on Saturday. Well Saturday has come and gone, and although the Trojans made the game interesting in the first half, leading Clemson 16-13 at halftime, the Tigers were able to pull away in the second half, scoring 30 points and holding the Trojans to only 3.
“The offense is not close to where I want it to be,” Morris said. “We came out with the intent to run the football and I think we rushed for 197 yards, our goal was to rush for 200. I probably would have been easier to deal with today if we had rushed for 198 yards and got that one yard and scored on that first down.”
Although he wasn’t pleased with the way his offense played in the first half, or their tempo throughout the game, there were several positive moments during Saturday’s contest that showed Tiger Nation a spark of Morris’s up tempo offense.
Did Morris’s offense play as physically as he’d like them to?
“You did see at the point of tackling on some occasions that we were physical up front,” Morris said. “On other occasions we weren’t so there was quite a bit of inconsistency there, but we’re going to run the football, that’s just what we’re going to do. I don’t want to say we got tired, but I do think that at some point in time, we weren’t as physical as we should have been and that’s on me. I challenged the team this morning that the 14 good on good reps we get this week during practice are going to be good and physical, we’re going to get something good of it, it could be 7 minutes of up downs.”
Morris feels like his offense had way too many mental errors on Saturday, from the quarterback standpoint and all the way down.
“There were too many mental errors at all positions,” Morris said. “But that’s to be expected a little bit in the first game with a new offensive coordinator and a new system, we knew we’d have mental errors but we have to cut back on them.”
How did his quarterback Tajh Boyd do Saturday as far as comprehension of the new offense goes?
“I thought in the first half he had a glazed over look,” Morris said. “He was staring into outer space a little bit; he was reverting back to back yard football a little bit instead of trusting his reads. This is something we talked about numerous times on the sidelines during the first half that he has to trust his coaches and his reads, so I had to simplify the offense a little bit for him, but at some point he has to execute. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it was his first big start.”
Morris had a feeling that his offense would get off to a slower start, but he knew that once he got his offense into the locker room at half time and settled them down, it would be a different story.
“Last Monday I told you that I wasn’t sure how the team would respond on Saturday,” Morris said. “Well for the first half of the game, it was a little shaky but I wasn’t panicking and neither were they. I knew we had to fix a few things, but we had to get to halftime to fix it. But the promising thing was what happened after halftime.”
Although at the start the pace of the offense was not at all where Morris wanted it to be, he believes it improved as the game went on.
“The pace wasn’t not even close to where I’d like it to be,” Morris said. “And that starts with our quarterback, but I think you saw in the second half that when he picked his pace up and our tempo was going well, we were moving the football. We play well when tempo is going good.”
Morris believed that none of the veterans on offense played up to the standards the coaching staff set for them at the beginning of camp.
“They didn’t step up Saturday from a consistency stand point, we did see some good things from our veterans,” Morris said. “But that’s not our standard; we’re not going to accept the way we played it’s not acceptable. We’re going to hold them accountable and strain them hard this week, work them hard and get better.”
Morris was proud to see a few offensive players step up from a leadership standpoint Saturday; he was especially impressed with tight end Dwayne Allen.
“He was very vocal on the sidelines, especially talking to me saying Hey Coach this is what they’re doing, this is what I’m seeing,” Morris said. “He and I we were talking and that was great to see, but what’s impressive about it is that most of the time when some guys talk to you they have an agenda, they want the ball. But Dwayne wasn’t that way, he was concerned with our run game and how we could improve it. He kept Tajh settled too, telling him that we were going to get things going and to calm down.”
How did Morris feel about freshman Sammy Watkins’ performance Saturday?
“When Sammy had the ball in his hands, he did some good things for us.” Morris said. “But when the ball wasn’t in Sammy’s hands he didn’t do a whole lot either. We have to get Sammy to understand that the plays where the ball isn’t in his hands are just as important as the ones where he gets the ball. Again a lot of that has to do with being young and playing that way, but he’s definitely a difference maker, a game changer, and I think we all saw that in what he can do.”
Morris does believes that a lot of good things came out of Saturday’s game.
“I think our guys believe now how quickly this offense can explode on people and how quickly we can put points on the board with the playmakers we’ve got.” Morris said. “We’ve just got to be able to come out and play and put 4 solid quarters together and it may take a while to get to that point, but they’re learning my personality and style and I was very pleased with the way they responded after halftime. We may look back at this in few weeks and think of trailing at halftime as the best thing that could’ve happened because it really refocused us and showed that they trusted us and the adjustments we made at halftime.’