By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Last week in Clemson’s 36-14 win over Boston College, Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris and the rest of Tiger Nation had quite the scare when starting quarterback Tajh Boyd took a hard hit and injured his hip, an injury that looked more serious at the time than it seems now.
“When I saw Tajh go down, the only thing I asked him was if it was his knee, and when he answered no, I knew I had to go get Cole ready,” Morris said on Monday. “I went over to Cole and told him to relax and have some fun, and by the way we’re fixing to throw on this next play.”
As for how Boyd is recovering this week, Morris saw him this morning and although he was pretty sore, Boyd promised his coach that he’d be ready for Saturday when the Tigers travel to Maryland to take on the Terrapins.
“Tajh told me this morning that he was going to play Saturday and I believe him,” Morris said. “He’s a competitor, but I still want to evaluate him throughout the week to see if he gives us the best chance to win. It would definitely shock me if Tajh didn’t play against Maryland this weekend.”
Morris is pleased though with the play of second string quarterback Cole Stoudt and how quickly he took over the game for the Tigers with Boyd injured.
“Cole’s a competitor,” Morris said. “He doesn’t have the arm strength that Tajh has but he’s such a competitor, he came in with a lot of poise, didn’t have any mental errors which was good to see. I thought he did a really good job, I was pleased to see how he responded and the guys around him responded to him.”
Morris will give Cole the reps with the number 1 team Monday, but Morris expects Tajh to get the majority of the reps on Tuesday either against the scout team or the number ones.
“I think Cole started to get a pecking order that he was the #2 guy and rightfully so,” Morris said. “You try to tell a true freshman over again that he’s got to be ready, you prepare him as much as you can, but I thought he did a great job at managing the game. He’ll be fine if he has to play, it’s my job to get him ready, and I guess I’ll actually have to work this week. #8 is the least of my concerns though.”
Overall, the Tigers’ win against BC was what Morris called their best overall game, however all he has to do is turn on the film to show the team that they haven’t arrived yet.
One of the main positives out of Clemson’s victory this weekend was the play of Andre Ellington, who’s finally starting to come into his own this season.
“I saw a lot of good things out of Andre Saturday,” Morris said. “I hope on Saturday at Maryland he can pick up right where he left off. The one thing Andre has to do this week is practice. Over the past few weeks he hasn’t gotten a lot of work in practice, so instead of him standing back this week I want to see him cut loose, Monday through Thursday.”
Morris believes that his players are starting to get used to playing more physical and although they have slipped up a few times over the past few weeks since Morris has challenged them, he enjoys seeing his offense after the slip up and how they respond to it.
“It’s been four weeks since I originally challenged them,” Morris said. “They’ve come a long way but they still have a long way to go. They have to continue to let us push them and coach them. We take great pride in being the most physical football team on the field; we want to let our tempo dictate it. They’re trying, and when something isn’t working they’re disappointed and I see the fire in their eyes on the sidelines.”
When Coach Morris came to Clemson in January, one of the first things he did was travel to see commit Sammy Watkins and his family.
“I went to meet Sammy and his family before he signed with Clemson, I knew he was a guy that I had to get in front of very quickly. “ Morris said. “He was concerned that we weren’t going to throw the deep ball and give him a chance to stretch the field vertically and I think we answered that.”
Morris believes that it only took 3 periods or so into the first practice for him to realize what a dynamic player Watkins was.
“Just listening to the players talk and seeing him on even the first day of practice, I was anxious to see him, and to see that and say wow this kid’s another gear,” Morris said. “He’s far more mature than the average true freshman, and his athletic ability sets him apart as well.”