Mondays with Morris

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris discusses his script, the running backs and Troy.

(28:28)

Game week is here. Can you talk about where you feel you guys are at right now?

Morris: It is. It's finally here. Coming out of fall camp, I feel good about where we are, without a doubt. We're so much further ahead than I thought we would be, but that doesn't mean a whole lot, right now at this stage. It's one thing to be able to execute out on the practice field. What are you going to do when there are 85,000 people out there screaming and hollering. As a play caller, we've got to do a really good job that we make sure we put them in a situation early on, to be successful. I feel really good coming out of fall camp. We're healthy. We've grasped the offense and advanced at a pace that I didn't know we could get to. A lot of that is credit to what we did this summer. They're hungry. There's no doubt about that. I think, without a doubt, we're in a situation that I'm excited about. I know they're excited to erase that bad taste in their mouth that they had from last year.

Is being further along in terms of execution in practice, or amount of plays, installation?

Morris: It's execution, the install of the overall offense to where we're at. We're so much further ahead than I thought we would be. It still doesn't mean we're going to take everything into this game. You still have to go back and execute what you do. You've got to get good and hang your hat on something. They've done a great job of executing. What we've asked them to do is just now in a pressure situation. How are you going to respond? You've got so many young players out there. That's going to fall back on me, as a play-caller, especially early in the game. You try to keep it as simple as you can and really thrive on what we do. That's kind of the way I've always been, in that regard.


Former five-star quarterback Tajh Boyd is making the first start of his career. (Roy Philpott)
It's been a long time since you had to fully introduce this to a team that didn't know what you were talking about.

Morris: It really forced them this summer to come in and really work hard on their own, especially where we came out of spring ball. It forces you to go back, start from the ground level and work up. That's kind of what we did in fall camp. We assumed they knew nothing. From that point, how fast could we progress? A lot of that had to do with what they did. How hard they worked. How hard Tajh [Boyd] worked in the summer, making sure that it wasn't all brand-new back in August. We were able to really execute and do some really good things during fall camp. I feel really comfortable with where we are, in that regard.

How much of that ahead of the curve is with Tajh and the position he plays and the work he puts in?

Morris: During practice and our scrimmages that we've had, which is all we can do, simulate as much game-type environment as possible -- he's done a really good job. The verdict is still out. We've still got to perform. That's not just Tajh. That's everyone. They're excited. They're going to be ready to go Saturday, without a doubt. It's just a matter of making sure they understand what we're asking them to do, what the game plan. I try to tell them, I don't want them thinking Saturday. I want them playing. That's on our part and how we prepare them this week.

Is the whole playbook open, or would you hold some stuff back?

Morris: From what we've installed already in fall camp, there's things we've got. If we've got to have, we'll use them. You still have to create your identity, but we don't have that yet, because we haven't played a game. We're going to come out, play, do what we do. You hope, you've got a calendar through the course of the season, you're able to add your staff as you work through, add a little bit more to your offense each week. Right now, we're starting from scratch, essentially. We'll have stuff if we need it, but there's stuff we don't want to bring into the game plan -- it's because what Troy does and doesn't matchup to it.

How do you create an identity and what do you want it to be?

Morris: Number one, I want our identity to be physical football. We've got to play that. You've heard me say that since I got here. We've got to be physical, a physical football team, physical in the run game, physical in the pass game. We want to be known for a physical team, a physical offense. In order to do that, you've got to come out and establish yourself, establish your run, establish your play-action passes. You look at it in that regard, I want our identity to be that of a very hard-nosed football team.

Do you script a certain number of plays? Say, like, 10?

Morris: We'll have our first part scripted. Usually, we'll try to script the first nine plays. It's something we've done and have done, and had some success. Have some second nine thoughts as you get ready for your next series of plays. We will script.

What are you most concerned with, at this point?

Morris: Just how they're going to respond. When they step out there, is it going to be a complete glaze over where they've forgotten everything that we've said and done since Aug. 5? Or, is it going to be, here we go? I don't know that. I can't answer that right now. I've talked to Tajh about that. I know what he can do in practice. All you can do is prepare them. They're going to prepare themselves. They're working hard, watching film on their own. They're going to be ready. They're going to perform. They're excited. Again, they're hungry. They're ready to get that taste out of their mouth.

What concerns you most about Troy?

Morris: Knowing Troy, obviously in the Sun Belt Conference, we were in Conference USA. I had a chance to watch them on film several times last year. They're very talented, fast, traditionally known for knocking off BCS schools. We played Oklahoma State last year, the week after they played them. They took Oklahoma State to a 38-31 ball game. They're a very physical team. They run really well, defensively. Obviously, they're coaching staff has been together for a long time. Several of their players are really good, from a defensive line standpoint and linebacker. This is going to be a big ball game for them. Obviously, this is their first game. It's against a BCS opponent. Knowing, coming from Tulsa, when we went to Notre Dame last year, I knew how much motivation our players had going into that environment and what we were playing for up there. That's things I'll be sharing with our offense. I know coach Swinney's talked to the team about. This is a very dangerous football team. Troy, their tradition, what they bring.


Mike Bellamy is expected to be the third running back used on Saturday. (Roy Philpott)
Is D.J. Howard the next option after Andre Ellington?

Morris: Yea. I think so, more than likely, right off. Then, [Mike] Bellamy. You'll see those guys. It'll be a heavy dose of 23, as far as overall playing time, as long as he can go.

Is Demont Buice still questionable?

Morris: Right now, I believe he is. He hasn't worked out with us.

Do you give any thought to this offense being more in the bloodstream of college football and everybody getting used to it more? Last night, the Saints and the Raiders used it quite a bit last night? At that point, it tells you that everyone is aware of it. Everyone is experimenting with it. Do you lose an edge that way?

Morris: The more people that run it, the more people are going to have to defend it. You're going to have to looking at what else is out there. What's next? I think you're going to start seeing it more and more. I think you're probably going to see -- I don't know how many running the fast-pace -- I think you'll see in division one, probably 30-plus teams running it. The more people do it, the more they have to defend, it takes a little bit of the cutting edge out of it. There are probably some rule changes in the near future, whether they go back to the 25-second clock. They'll have to do things to balance back up. That's kind of the word out there.

How much real work do you give Cole Stoudt to prepare? Or does he have to do that on his own?

Morris: He gets quite a bit of work at practice. He gets all the work with our seconds and getting him ready to go. He's in the film room and studying. Again, he's a student of the game. He's a young man, obviously, that we don't want to use. If we've got to use, he'll be ready. It'll be interesting to see how big his eyes are Saturday when he steps out there. He'll be ready to go. He's a good one for us.

Do you script him into the game?

Morris: No, I hope not. We don't want to script him into the game. He'll get his reps in practice. From that, point, who knows how it works. Hopefully, we get a chance to play him in every game, but there are no guarantees.


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