By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
CLEMSON — If someone tries to talk to Chad Morris in the halls at the WestZone, odds are they don’t. That’s because Morris is walking too fast.
“We walk through the office at a face pace,” Clemson’s offensive coordinator said Monday.
Like its coach, the Clemson offense does everything fast, which explains why the 15th-ranked Tigers sometimes have issues when it comes to slowing things down. That’s what happened when Clemson tried to run clock in the fourth quarter during last Saturday’s win at Boston College.
“You practice all the time at a fast pace so it is hard to slow down,” left tackle Brandon Thomas said. “Having guys come into the game for different packages or whatever, we get frustrated because we have to slow down. It helps us out when we go faster. We have been practicing this way for a while now at a fast pace.
“It’s just normal to us.”
That’s why it was abnormal for Clemson not to execute late in the game. Prior to being stop late in the game on third and fourth-and-short, the Tigers were six-for-six in short yardage situations. But, they were stopped twice on back-to-back short yardage plays and then quarterback Tajh Boyd fumbled the ball away on the next possession.
“We were pretty upset about that,” Thomas said. “We put it on our shoulders, and we need to pick up the short yards, especially in short yardage. Coaches look for us to pick that up and that starts with us up front.”
So the key is for the Tigers to just go fast and not worry about the clock. When Clemson (4-1, 1-1 ACC) does go fast, no one when seems to stop them. Clemson is averaging 510.8 yards and 40.2 points per game.
“We will do whatever we have to do to win, but when we are out of our game plan is when we are in a mode of slow down,” Morris said. “Just watch us and go back and study us. When you are a hurry-up team, and pushing the tempo, which is what we do, we play better.
“We have found that we create more errors when we try to slow down. It’s hard to slow down. People think why is that? Well, it just is. Everything you do, you do it fast. So to get these guys to completely switch gears and go back to huddling up or slowing it down, it is a little difficult.”
Morris says it comes down to training. He trains his players to be ready for the ball to be snapped at 32 or 31 seconds on the play clock. That’s the pace he established for them in the spring and the summer. So to just suddenly stop that in the middle of a game, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“You are trained,” he said. “When you train yourself, you train your mind. This is what you do. This is what has given us a great equalizer over the last couple of years.”
And when it is working, which it does most of the time, the Tigers wear down defenses. Case in point, Saturday’s game at BC. Once Clemson got the ball back following the two blunders, it went back to its up-tempo style and ran out the remaining 4:02 on the game clock.
“Late in the game, it really works to your advantage,” Morris said. “You have to be who you are. You have to be who you are.”
Odds are, that’s exactly who the Tigers will be this weekend.