By Chandler Carver.
Offensive coordinator Chad Morris is pleased with the way things have gone this spring for the Tigers. However, he says, there’s always room for improvement.
“We’ve had a good spring,” said Morris Monday after the Tigers’ scrimmage. “But we want to have a great one. We’re a good football team, but we want to be a great one. Anything less than that is unacceptable.”
The Tigers short yardage woes on offense carried over into spring practice, but Morris says things are improving.
“Today was much better,” he said. “Actually, short yardage in the last two practices has been a lot better. We were still unable on Friday to convert inside the one-yard line, but we showed a lot more promise Friday and today. Today was the best it’s been up to this point, as far as short yardage is concerned. That’s promising. We’re still not where we need to be. But, we’re stepping in the right direction and not stepping backwards. It’s still a mindset, still a mentality and sometimes you just have to yank them through a knothole and make them figure out that this is the way we’re going to do it. We’re going to be physical and tough, and I was proud to see that we’re doing some things right. We’re not ready to line up and match everybody on short yardage yet, but we are showing some promise and I’m proud to see that.”
Morris credits the improvements in short-yardage situations to the physicality of his offensive line.
“The offensive line is getting better,” said Morris. “They’re very athletic and they have a toughness about them. They get gassed a little bit because we’re trying to go as fast as we can. The tempo that we’re working at right now is the best it’s ever been. They get tired, but I tell them “fatigue makes cowards out of everyone”. We have to make sure the defense is the one getting tired, not us.”
“We’ve been working with the same group on the line all spring: Tyler Shatley, Brandon Thompson, Kalon Davis, etc. We’ve put some other guys in there to see if they’re ready, and they’re not. It’s that simple. They’re not ready. We just have to keep pushing them and keep getting better, but I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve been seeing up front.”
Morris has also been impressed with the way his quarterback, Tajh Boyd, has responded to poor practice or tough situations throughout the spring.
“Overall, our scrimmage Friday wasn’t very good,” he said. “I didn’t think Tajh had a very good scrimmage. He did make some plays, but he was very inconsistent on Friday. Today, we turned the ball over too much. We turned the ball over after we drove the length of the field, twice, and that’s unacceptable. We’re going to work through those things and grow from those things. One thing that intrigued me today was to watch and see how Tajh responded. I didn’t say a whole lot too him after he made the two interceptions; I wanted to see how he responded, not how I would respond. They responded great with their backs against the wall. We took the ball twice and drove it the length of the field and had two house calls.”
Everyone knows that the Tigers running game will rely heavily on senior Andre Ellington, but Morris has been pleased with the rest of the backs and is excited to see who’s going to break through and be the consistent number-two guy behind Ellington.
“I’ve been very pleased with Roderick McDowell,” said Morris. “He’s a guy that’s been coming on strong this spring. He’s very consistent and has really gotten better. DJ Howard and Mike Bellamy are doing great jobs. Zac Brooks is going to be a very good football player for us, once he learns everything that’s going on. He runs with a purpose. I’m excited about him, too.”