By Will Vandervort
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris was as excited as everyone else about beating NC State last Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., but like everyone else, he was also disappointed with the way the offense played.
Though the third-ranked Tigers racked up 415 yards and quarterback Tajh Boyd threw three touchdown passes in the 26-14 victory, Morris says they were inconsistent and struggled to get into a rhythm.
The Clemson coach said he had a pretty good idea as to why.
“When you start looking back and start analyzing and going through things you realize the last time this group played together was Aug. 31,” Morris said. “That was the last time this bunch played together as a complete unit in a game that was nip and tuck the whole way.
“Part of being an offensive football team is getting into a groove and getting into a rhythm even as a playcaller. I think you saw that early on.”
Morris says Clemson, who will host Wake Forest on Saturday in Death Valley at 3:30 p.m., did not get into that rhythm until the 59th play of the game against NC State. That came after Vic Beasley sacked and forced a Pete Thomas fumble in the third quarter that the Tigers recovered on the Wolfpack’s 48-yard line.
Two plays later, Boyd hit Martavis Bryant for a 20-yard gain and after a six-yard run by the Clemson quarterback, he then found Bryant again for a 30-yard touchdown pass. That touchdown gave the Tigers a 20-7 lead at the time.
“Tajh settled down and felt confident making the confident throws and standing in the pocket,” Morris said. “That’s 59 snaps into an 82-play game. We all know what Tajh’s is capable of, we have seen it. He is one of the best in the country.”
After that, Clemson went on another scoring drive which Boyd completed with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Bryant, who snagged the fade pass out of the air. The Tigers closed the game with another long drive which ate up most of the final three minutes.
This was the second straight game in which the offense sputtered to move the football with any consistency. Clemson had its issue at times in the South Carolina State game as well. In fact, that game was the first time in 17 games that Boyd did throw a touchdown pass.
Of the 52 points the Tigers scored that afternoon against the Bulldogs, only 38 were credited to the offense against a middle of the pack FCS football team.
“We need to get consistent. I can tell you that,” left tackle Brandon Thomas said. “We sputter here and there. We have big plays here and there, but we need to get consistent as a whole. S.C. State week, we just threw guys in there and tried to mix and match.
“This was actually the first time we had the group together since the Georgia game so we need to get consistent as a whole.”
Starting with Wake Forest this coming Saturday, the Tigers hope they can start that continuity as an offensive unit over the next six weeks. Clemson will play every Saturday from here until it gets an open week prior to its Thursday night encounter with Georgia Tech on Nov. 14.
“Playing with the group we have and knowing who we know can start and whatnot, I think we can be consistent and we can get better as an offense.”
Morris says he is excited about the opportunity that is ahead for his players.
“We have not played our best football,” he said. “We have done some good things, but we have not played our best football. This is a great opportunity for me as a coordinator and for our offensive football team to get better and to coach them hard. I can promise you, we will do that.”