Friday Clemson football notebook

CLEMSON - The first nine third-down conversion attempts during the Chad Morris era at Clemson failed.

In the first half of the season opener against Troy, Clemson was stopped eight times on third-down. The Trojans stonewalled another at the start of the second half, for good measure.

The Tigers converted seven of the final nine and haven't looked back.

Against Wofford, Clemson went 7 for 15.

A week later against Auburn, it was 14 for 18.

Next was a 9 for 17 performance against Florida State.

Nationally, Clemson is 13th with a 53.03 conversion rate, having converted 35 of 66 attempts.

Freshman receiver Sammy Watkins said it's constantly emphasized on the practice fields.

"[Morris] just gets it in our head that we're going to be the best third-down team ever, in history," Watkins said. "We just work on it a lot."

Virginia Tech has been almost as good in defending against third-down attempts. The Hokies have allowed opponents to convert at a 27.12 clip, which is 12th in the country.

AN EVEN KEEL: Corico Hawkins knows that he and his teammates can't get too excited about their 4-0 record. After all, they're on the road Saturday for a night game in Lane Stadium.

It doesn't get much tougher than that.

"We're keeping it all in check, thus far," Hawkins said. "Just as quickly as we got 4-0, we can be 4-4. We've been down this road of winning a few games here, then a losing streak here.

"We're just pretty mellow about it and just taking it one game at a time, doing what we can to get a win on Saturday."

With all the talk about the young players' impact, Hawkins said the veteran presence will help keep the Tigers from making a slide in the wrong direction.

"I think there are a lot of guys on the team now who have had several seasons of win a big game here, lose three or four games there. Those 6-7 seasons, those mediocre seasons, so to speak," he said.

CALCULATED TOUGHNESS: On Monday, Phillip Price sat before reporters in the West End Zone with a healing gash on his nose, almost right between his eyes.

So it's fitting that he has this mentality.

"I want to knock my man in the dirt every play, every play," he said. "But every play is not conducive to that. You want to do that every play. You want to just drive people and the dirt and mow them, but you have to play within yourself and play with in the scheme.

"Being out there, over aggressive and out of control, that will get you beat more often and not."

It's no wonder that Price has played nearly every snap at left tackle.

The former walk-on tight end has logged 315 snaps through the first four games of the season, all of which he's started.

Starting quarterback Tajh Boyd has played 311 snaps.

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