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Morris: Making sure we've got all of our installs ready. That we are not going at a pace where we are putting too much on too quick. You know, a happy medium with our install book. We don't have a play book. Taking care of that and putting together our hand book of what may expectations are of my players, what theirs should be of me and our offensive staff and breaking down film and Troy. But right now the install book and the manual is taking precedent.
Do you ever pinch yourself when you think about where you are now to where you were two years ago?
Morris: I've been very blessed. Been around some great coaches and great players in my time to allow me this opportunity. So yes, it's kind of surreal if you look where you are two years ago today to right now. It's a great ride and a lot of fun. Really looking forward to this year.
|"Going through our first few practices of spring, I was very surprised in the lack of speed - just the ability to stretch our defense."|
Morris: Going through our first few practices of spring, I was very surprised in the lack of speed - just the ability to stretch our defense. And our defense has speed. That was the only thing I had to compare it to - was the speed of our defense and what we had and it wasn't even close. The next thing you go and look at the speed you had at Tulsa or Lake Travis and where does that rank with the speed we have here. Again- we didn't have the speed. And I think you saw that last season where you had a safety sneak into the box because 'hey, you aren't going to run by me because you don't have the speed to run by me.' So yes.
The second question is with the guys we have coming in, the speed we have coming in, we've got to get that out (on the field). But we also have some great talent that's here too that we have to spur them. Some of these guys woke up on third base and they don't know how they got there. So yes, without a doubt, we are anticipating some freshmen coming in and contributing, but they have to earn it. And they have to prove it themselves. And they have to prove that from day one.
What will the veteran guys have to do to hold off the young guys?
Morris: The veteran players, they had 15 days to prove themselves to me during the spring. I'm going to be really focused in on these freshmen guys coming in for fall camp. I know what some of these guys can do for 15 days- I've seen it. Some of them were highly recruited and hadn't cut it and that's OK. There's going to be plenty of water that needs to be filled up on the sidelines because if you are going to play you are going to prove it. There's competitive confrontation I love to have out on the field. These guys have got to be pushed.
Not just the veteran players, but our freshmen too. These guys are the next Heisman Trophy winner and All-American and NFL guys and they haven't taken a college snap. I promise you, when we step on the field these guys are going to earn their way out there. And the veteran guys are a pivotal point in time in their career. You are either going to cut bait or fish. One of the two. That's how I feel about it. I love competition. It's going to bring out the best in these guys. We'll find out real quick.
"Great competitor. Has great leadership ability. Has got to get better without the ball in his hands. I know what he can do with the ball in his hands. I know what he can do when the play is called to get the ball in his hands. But what can you do when the ball is not in your hands?" - Chad Morris on sophomore WR DeAndre Hopkins. (Roy Philpott)
Morris: Great competitor. Has great leadership ability. Has got to get better without the ball in his hands. I know what he can do with the ball in his hands. I know what he can do when the play is called to get the ball in his hands. But what can you do when the ball is not in your hands? That's something we have stressed and stayed on top of and he knows it. I want to be known as one of the most physical groups of receivers in the country. I know they can catch or they wouldn't be here. Our trademark needs to be finishing runs, finishing blocks and being physical.
Tajh Boyd- even though you can't work with him extensively - but how do evaluate him since spring practice ended?
Morris: Tajh has to have a good summer. I said that after the spring game. It's imperative that he's got to have a great summer. He knows it. Everybody knows it. The team knows it. Their holding him accountable and he's holding himself accountable. What he's done to this point- he's had a great summer. He talks to me daily and keeps me in the loop on how things are going. He's on his own studying film and he's ready to prove himself.
This is a pivotal point in his career as well, like the other guys. Going back to competition - he needs to be pushed. I want him to feel - yes it is his job but you know what? There's a lot of things we are expecting of you as the starting quarterback for us and the No. 1 thing is learn how to manage the game. You don't have to win it for us, just manage it.
How easy is it for a first-year player, a guy like Sammy Watkins, to learn your offensive system?
Morris: Well there's going to be a learning curve. No question about that. When you start gauging that on 85 snaps a game outside of our offensive line and our quarterback than can play 85 snaps a game. There's going to have to be some role players. It's my job early on to put our young guys in successful situations and get them their 10 to 12, 18, 20 snaps a game and bring them on as the season goes. I expect a couple of these guys by the time we start to be pushing to play a lot. What does that mean? That falls back on me. Do I have to scale back a little bit. Do I have to slow down a little bit on install? You have to kind of balance it. You can play young guys but you have to bring them along at a good pace. But, I think they will be fine. This offense has proven itself with bringing in first year guys to play.
|"I expect a couple of these guys by the time we start to be pushing to play a lot. What does that mean? That falls back on me. Do I have to scale back a little bit. Do I have to slow down a little bit on install? You have to kind of balance it."|
Are you a little bit apprehensive to depend on first-year players or unproven guys?
Morris: Well you can't replace guys with experience. That's just irreplaceable. So how do you do that? I would love to say these guys are a year into the system but they are not. It is what it is. It's our job to put them in positions to be successful. Hanging on to the football, understanding the speed of the game and the contact of the game- that's just going to come with getting out there and doing it. The guys that are coming in are focused. I've seen that.
But again, I'm hoping they spur along some of these veteran players that haven't reached their full potential. Because if it has, then it's really going to help us out with experienced players. If it hasn't, then that's OK, these younger guys are going to come in and be just fine.