By Will Vandervort
Chad Morris has been in a pleasant mood the last month. And there is a good as to why. His offense has shown marked improvement during Clemson’s three-game winning streak.
As the sixth-ranked Tigers gear up for their game with The Citadel this Saturday, Morris is eager to see if his unit can continue to improve against a team it should have no problem moving the ball against.
“This is an offensive football team that over the last three to three and a half games has really kind of gotten better every week,” he said. “We are playing our best offensive football right now at the right time.”
The numbers back up Morris’ claim. Since Clemson’s loss to second-ranked Florida State, the Tigers have averaged 51.3 points and 567 yards per game in wins over Maryland, Virginia and Georgia Tech. That’s nearly 70 yards and two more touchdowns per game than they were averaging before the Florida State game.
Granted one of those three games came against a Virginia defense that is struggling, but Clemson still racked up 40 points and 540 yards against Maryland’s top 25 defense, and 55 points and 551 yards against Georgia Tech’s top 12 defense.
“We are going to do what we do,” Morris said. “It’s not like we are going to come up with new plays and all kinds of new things each week. You don’t get to the point of winning nine games by coming in and trying to recreate something each week.
“It is just a slow process. You just bring your players along and at some point and time in the season you hope the light bulb clicks on. It’s not that we go out each week and we are going to practice a different play or a different step. It is the same step and the same plays we have been working on since Aug. 2 and it will be the same plays and same steps we will be working on however long we play.
“But until that point, you hope the light bulb clicks on and it becomes a want to.”
The light bulb has really come on at wide receiver where Martavis Bryant has had solid back-to-back performances. After catching five passes for 72 yards at Virginia, he followed that up with five catches for 176 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown in last Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech. That earned the 6-foot-5, 200-pound junior ACC Wide Receiver of the Week honors.
“He has made some really good catches and has made some really good plays,” Morris said. “I think he is playing with a lot of confidence.”
Thanks to that new found confidence, Bryant has quietly put himself in position for a 1,000-yard season has he has 34 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think what really turned for him is that I think he sees and recognizes that Tajh (Boyd) has confidence in him and that has really helped him out. The catch at Virginia on that opening drive of the game where he made a basket catch did nothing but make great things for his confidence.”
Morris says Bryant’s maturation is just part of the growing process through the course of the season that a lot of guys needed on the offensive side of the ball.
“The light bulb will click on at some point and time. It will for every player, but some sooner than others,” the Clemson coach said. “You hope that when it does click on, it happens at that point and time of the season when you need it.”