By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After Saturday’s close win against Wofford, Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris spoke to the media and compared the first half versus Wofford with the Tiger’s slow start against Troy in week 1 of play. Although he saw some improvement in his offense against Wofford, one constant issue that stuck out to him throughout both games was the offensive line playing soft. Their lack of physical play up front was very apparent against Wofford as quarterback Tajh Boyd was sacked four times throughout the game, due to his offensive line’s poor blocking.
“From an offensive standpoint in the first half, not making the fourth and 1, I wasn’t real happy with that,” Morris said.”I wasn’t real happy with our protection of the quarterback in the first half, but overall I thought when you compare the two halves, last week’s first half and this week, there were obviously not nearly as many three and outs this week, that’s definitely a positive. We made some critical errors up front though and we need to do a good job of correcting that before Auburn.”
Although the first half wasn’t nearly what he wanted to see out of his offense, Morris was pleased with how the team responded at halftime and the adjustments they made to come out and take the lead in the third quarter and eventually win the game.
“Second half I have to commend those guys, they came in and talked made some adjustments and were able to take the first two drives in the second half and score,” Morris said. “I thought that was huge, I think you’re seeing some progress, but it’s not happening as fast as I’d like it to happen right now.”
The main thing that Morris would like to see his offense improve on is playing physical, something that Clemson has never been known for.
“We’ve got to continue to practice physical,” Morris said. “Last week’s practices were a lot more physical because we’re demanding it of our guys up front and we need to continue to practice more physical, that’s the bottom line. That’s from the start to the end of the game.”
Although they looked shaky at times, Morris cannot be disappointed in a win and that they’re going into the Auburn game with a 2-0 record and a lot of motivation to defeat the National Champions, who they barely lost to in 2010.
“We’re still working on getting better in short yardage situations,” Morris said. “In order to get the yards, you’ve got to have the You’ll Have to Kill Me to Beat Me mentality, which is something our team doesn’t have yet, we’re going to get that though, I promise you we’re going to get it. The guys are learning my personality though, and they’re going to continue to improve, I can promise you that.”
Morris was disappointed in several of the things he saw from his offense on Saturday versus the Terriers however he praises them for their work ethic and their positive attitudes.
“Those boys are working hard for us, they’re just not all in a mindset of a mental tough team,” Morris said. “We’re not there yet and it’s going to take time, you can’t let up. I hate to come to practice every day and be a rear end, but oh well; you have to do what you have to do.”
Morris also gave an answer to the question several Clemson fans and media members were asking after the game, “Was the field goal supposed to be a fake or was it just a bad snap?”
“Coach called that play, a fake field goal was something we’ve been working on all week,” Morris said. “I guess he saw something there and I was actually trying to get over there with our offensive line and figure out what went wrong during the first two plays. I was definitely behind it though, it would have worked had the snap not been dropped.”
The biggest concern for many Clemson fans now is that the Tigers veteran offensive line is not looking like a veteran front line, as they continue to play soft and miss crucial blocks. Is Morris disappointed in their performance so far this season?
“They’re trying to play more physical,” Morris said. “It’s a mindset though, it’s disappointing right now but I promise you they’ll get better. They’ll continue to push each other to get better; I’m going to push them to get better. We’re not going to quit on them, we’re going to practice even more physical than we did this past week, and we’ve got to find that right combination, that right group of guys. Every job is open right now.”
One positive that Morris took away from Saturday’s game is the improvement in his quarterback Tajh Boyd since last week’s opener.
“I thought Tajh played better,” Morris said. “He looked more comfortable, he protected the football. One positive thing that needs to be mentioned out of this is that we won a football game and we didn’t have any turnovers. Tajh did a great job with ball security, obviously he missed some easy passes, trying to place it instead of just throwing it but I did see him grow up a little bit more today but he’s got to get even better.”