Mondays with Morris

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris talks about Clemson's physicality up front, his old friend Gus Malzahn, Mike Bellamy and more.

(31:26)

Were your thoughts right after the game confirmed after watching the film?
Morris: I don't think it was any worse than I thought. My initial assessment, my gut feeling when I stepped off the field, we didn't play nearly as aggressive or physical as we wanted to play. There are some big issues in our pass protection, and they weren't bringing more than we had. It wasn't like we were blocking with five and they were bringing six. They were bringing five and we had five to pick their five up, and we just didn't pick them up. Initial assessment was that. After watching the film, it was dead-on. We're not nearly as aggressive at the point of attack as what we need to be. That was my initial, gut feeling. Then, watching film did nothing more than solid that up.

"We can't expand on our offense because we've to work on our mentality, work on our mindset. It's hard to come in and keep adding stuff and adding stuff when all you're doing is adding stuff to mess up on more stuff. Until you get that mindset right, that toughness approach right, we can't keep expanding. We're going to get good at what we do."

You talked about toughness, and now you're talking about not as aggressive. Are those the same?
Morris: It works hand in hand. Toughness, aggressive, being physical, all that. Toughness is a mentality. Like I mentioned after the ball game, until we change that mentality, we're going to talk about this from week to week. That's what we've got to address. We've got to coach with a harder mentality, obviously, because the mentality that we're taking to the field right now is not getting their attention. They've got to practice with a tougher mentality. Again, it's a mindset. It's not something that you can flip a switch on and off. I've said it since I've been coaching, and even dealing with my son, playing little league football. You either like to hit or you don't like to hit. If they don't bite as a puppy, they're not going to bite as a big dog. Those that bite as a puppy are probably going to bite when they get older. Those are the things you look at, we've got to get that mentality changed, that mental toughness. I don't want to come across negative, the nastiness when we step on the field. Not nasty play, by no means. Nasty, rugged, rough approach. That's a mindset.

You've probably heard that Clemson has a reputation of playing down to their competition over the last several years. As much as the architecture, offensively, has changed that part hasn't changed.
Morris: Not at all. This isn't the only place that I've ever been around that feels they play down to their competition. I call it a bunch of hogwash, to be honest with you. I think you are what you put on the field. We've got to be able to take opponents, whatever the opponent is, whether it's a lesser or more superior opponent, we've got to be able to maintain a consistent approach to the way we play football. Again, all that goes back into, it's a mindset, it's a mentality. We can't expand on our offense because we've to work on our mentality, work on our mindset. It's hard to come in and keep adding stuff and adding stuff when all you're doing is adding stuff to mess up on more stuff. Until you get that mindset right, that toughness approach right, we can't keep expanding. We're not going to keep expanding. We're going to get good at what we do. We've got to get better at what we do. That's my approach. That's one thing, I've always been straight-forward. We're not going to sugar-coat anything. We've got to get better. It starts with, I keep using mindset, it starts with toughness.

How frustrating is it that you've got four returning starters, and you're spending time on trying to get players tougher?
Morris: I don't think they're going out there and saying I don't want to be tough. I really don't think that. A lot of thinking. When you think out on the football field, it takes aggressiveness out, which tells me we cannot keep adding or expanding on this offense. When I came off the field, things that we thought we were ready to go with is causing our players to think too much. We can't think and play. How frustrating is it, for those guys up front? If you talked to them, they're extremely frustrated, they're extremely disappointed. Believe me, I know they are. I see them. I talk to them. Let's look back on this thing. Everybody's wanting to crucify the offensive line, which is not the case. It's a joint effort. We're sitting here talking a lack of toughness and sounding like our offense is not hitting, and it's not hitting on all cylinders...there's some things that are happening that are positive. We've got to build on the positives and correct. That's my job. That's why I'm here. They're not paying me for these guys to like me. I don't care if they like me. We're going to win and play tough. At what point in time this season when it's going to click? I don't know that. I know they'll be tougher at this time next week than they were last week.

Does your relationship with Mr. Malzahn make this any more special?
Morris: This is going to be a great week. I'm excited about this week. Our players are excited about this week. Gus and I guy way back. He's a great friend. I love him to death. He's a good person in this profession. He and his wife, they're family, good people. He was texting me last night. It's going to be a really great environment.


According to Morris, Tajh Boyd made great strides from week one to week two. (Roy Philpott)
You guys are playing chess with a lot of the same pieces. They may have some of the secrets before Saturday?
Morris: They do. So do we. It kind of works hand in hand. They know us. We're going to know them. Everybody gets caught up in that. It boils down to being tough, being physical, executing the game plan. It's a game of plays. It will come down to four or five plays. Whoever makes the plays is going to win. The team that doesn't make the plays and overcome it and not let the ones they didn't make affect them through the course of the game. It's still going to come down to just execution. It's going to be a great week. I'm really excited about it.

Is the terminology so similar that Tajh will have to use different language when checking, things like that?
Morris: We try to change our terminology every year. Coming here made a great time to change our terminology. Coach Malzahn does the same thing, changes his terminology, changes his signals every year. If you get caught up in that, what they're doing, you can really be at more of a disadvantage than it can help you. You start worrying about, what's he going to do? What's his next move? Instead of calling the game like you've been calling it and preparing your players.

How was his jump from last week to this week?
Morris: I thought that, when you start looking at the improvements that each player made from week one to week two, I think Tajh probably increased as much as anybody. He missed a few throws. He missed a hot. He's still making mistakes. Had some quick throws out on the edge that he was trying to place, instead of throw. You saw him manage the game and made some plays with his feet that we had to have. I thought he's definitely getting better. I'm pleased with his progress. Now, we've got to get him to take some more ownership.

Are Mike Bellamy's carries (or lack of carries) a product of him learning everything? Or because you needed Andre Ellington more than you may have thought in the last two games?
Morris: I think it's two things. No. 1, he's trying to learn the offense. And No. 2, you look at it as you would have hoped that he would have got in and got more reps in, expecting the situation in the game being different. It didn't present itself that way. Andre was the guy. you trust Andre and trust Andre in our pass protection schemes, picking up linebackers. Until we get those younger guys coming on, it's harder. I think Andre played 62 snaps the other night. That's too much. It is what it is. It's kind of like water leaking through a dyke. You put your finger in one and it's over here the next thing you know -- you're trying to piece some things together to get momentum rolling. That's something that's going to take a little bit. We're going to get Mike up to speed. There's things Mike can do that can help us win. We've got to make sure we're doing that and getting him ready for it.


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