By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- In Clemson’s 31-17 loss against Georgia Tech last weekend, one thing was proven. Clemson’s offense can be stopped. According to Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris, mental mistakes and turnovers were what kept the Tigers’ offense from doing what they do best, being explosive.
“We turned the ball over 4 times against Georgia Tech, something we haven’t been doing a lot of this season,” Morris said on Wednesday. “We’d have a tough time beating a Middle School team turning the ball over that much during a game.”
According to Morris, the Yellow Jackets were playing for their lives against the Tigers last weekend, putting their backs up against the wall and taking risks knowing that if they lost they’d be out of the Coastal Division race with 3 losses.
“I was very disappointed with our mentality, and the way we approached the game,” Morris said. “The mental mistakes we made really killed us, and they were very uncharacteristic of our offense. Also we really missed #23 in the game. Other than putting the ball on the ground, Mike and DJ did a good job out there, but you just didn’t have the leadership that Andre brings to the offense in there.”
Although the final result was the Tigers’ first loss of the season, there were some positives to the game that Morris found when watching the game film.
“First off, we had the ball for 21 minutes and had over 400 yards of offense,” Morris said. “We snapped the ball 60 something times, but we couldn’t find a way to put it in the end zone. Obviously the turnovers were the critical factor. You’ve got to give Georgia Tech credit, they brought pressure and knew that they had to keep the ball, and they did.”
This wasn’t the first time the Tigers’ came into halftime behind, and they kept the same mentality that they wouldn’t panic.
“Coach Swinney told the team not to worry about the scoreboard, just to get the ball back and go out there and score,” Morris said. “We’re a second half football team; we play our best football in the second half. We knew that the first four minutes of the third quarter were very vital; we knew if we could score right away we’d be right in it. Time wasn’t in our favor, we didn’t know how much time we’d actually get in the second half but we knew it wasn’t on our side.”
As for the depth chart at running back, it’s still the same according to Morris.
“It’s the same for next week,” Morris said. “You’ll continue to see DJ and Mike this season; I really liked what I saw out of Mike, other than the fumble. There’s no secret, you have to protect the football, but he did provide us the spark we needed. I really like that at any given time, Mike was a step away from going the distance, and he gave us momentum in the second half in our drives.”
After Bellamy’s fumble, instead of sulking on the bench, he went over to the defensive huddle and tried to motivate his teammates to make a stop.
“He’s growing up in that regard,” Morris said. “No one was upset with him about the turnover, guys patted him on the helmet, told him he couldn’t do that. Protecting the football is vital to our success and I tell him that all the time.”
Overall, Morris believes that his quarterback Tajh Boyd’s performance was a little uncharacteristic of him, knowing that he could have played better.
“Tajh has played a lot better than he did against Georgia Tech,” Morris said. “His feet weren’t set at times, the ball was sailing on him, and it was just very uncharacteristic of him. He was as disappointed as the rest of us were in the loss but he’ll bounce back. He’s gotten us to 8-1 with his great play.”
As for running back Andre Ellington’s health, Morris knows he’ll be back and ready to go for Wake Forest.
“He worked out a little bit last night,” Morris said. “We’re just very happy to have our off week now, with Ellington and several other players banged up. Now they’ll have time to rest and recharge before competing for the Atlantic Division Title against Wake.”
But the Tigers will be going back to basics over the next two weeks before playing for the Atlantic Division title game.
“We’re going back to fundamentals but ain’t nobody panicking, I’m sure not panicking,” Morris said. “I’m very confident in what we’re doing and what we’ve been doing. This game is just a speed bump along the way and we’ll find out a lot about ourselves over the next week and a half.”