After four weeks of back slapping and people telling them how good they are, is it good to have a game like that where you win and still have plenty to work on?
Morris: I think, you look at it, anytime you can get a win on the road, absolutely. You'll take a win all day long. We missed a lot. Tajh wasn't where he had been. He missed some throws, kind of wasn't quite as sharp as what I was hoping he would be. He made some great plays for us. There were some things. We dropped a few balls early. We missed a few things. Our tempo, even though we ran 45 snaps in the first half, wasn't where I wanted it to be, by no means. We could have been faster. There's a whole lot. After four weeks of playing at home and going on the road, test these guys out first road game, there's no question we've got a long way to go, still. What I'm going to tell them today, everybody in the country is telling them how great they are, patting them on the back. Rightfully so, they have done some good things, but 5-7 is not a very good year. That's one thing I'm going to remind these guys of. It's my job right now, and our job as an offensive staff, and a coaching staff, in particular. We're going to coach them hard. They're going to respond. They have to this point. I'll be the biggest rear-end there is. And I don't have one problem at all being a big rear-end. We're going to continue. There's a lot of things we can show on film. There's a lot of things we can do better. If we want to be a championship ball club, we've got to improve in some areas. You've got to win on the road, obviously, but you've got to take one week at a time. A lot of these players have never been in this situation. We've got some of them that have won a state championship in high school, but it's been several years ago. We've got to make sure that we keep them.
|"What I'm going to tell them today, everybody in the country is telling them how great they are, patting them on the back. Rightfully so, they have done some good things, but 5-7 is not a very good year. That's one thing I'm going to remind these guys of."|
Morris: We were right around the 15-18 mark. A lot of that had to do with their crowd noise, Tajh communicating to the offensive line what we were doing. Really, though, even after a play, Tajh, normally we've conditioned ourselves to where Tajh immediately has his eyes on me. For whatever reason, he wasn't. He was looking more back at the ball carrier, waiting for him to get up, walking around. That's my fault, because I've kind of neglected in practice. We've kind of backed off what we call our team tempo period. It's pretty strenuous, you really bare down on them for five minutes. I've backed off on them the last couple of weeks, trying to save them on their legs. All that shows me is you can't back off on them. We'll be doing a lot of that.
Is that part of what you want to be able to do?
Morris: We want to be at a high speed the whole time. There's no question. We had 45 snaps in the first half, which puts you on track to snap it 90 times, which is good. The last couple of drives, you're trying to burn clock, so you're not going quite as fast. We snapped it 67 times, but you had six or seven three-and-outs. For every three-and-out, that's three plays. That's 21 more snaps. If you just cut your seven three-and-outs to just three three-and-outs, you're getting 12 more snaps, which puts you in your target range. Tempo is controlled by two people, the quarterback and the center. When you have to use a silent count, that means Dalton has his head down most of the night, looking for the indicator, so you've got to really rely on your quarterback. Again, whatever reason, our tempo wasn't quite like I wanted it. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't where I wanted it to be.
You had Mike Bellamy on the field during crunch time. Was that a product of Ellington being injured, or was it just time to cut him loose?
Morris: What I saw last week, it's a trust. As a play-caller, we have to trust the guys we're putting on the field. We tell them all the time you're not going to earn playing time on Saturdays, so if you haven't practiced much during the week, don't be coming up standing by me, saying you want to play, because it's not going to happen. You're not going to earn our trust on game day. Mike, last week, probably had the best week of practice he had. That was really promising, really intriguing to see him kind of step to the forefront last week. Still not where we want Mike, but he's gotten better. Coach [Tony] Elliott came to me, and said, 'I think this is the right thing to do. Mike's going to give us a fresh set of legs right now.' My response back to coach Elliott, 'Just make sure we preach good ball security to him, before he gets on the field.' I think, what you've seen with Mike, Mike has earned out trust. He's earned my trust. We've got to continue to bring him along more. He's proven that he is definitely a factor on the field.
Are you seeing him pick up the offense better? Is that part of him earning that trust?
Morris: It is. It's mainly ball security and understanding, when he's in there, you just can't run the football to him. He's got to be able to pick up his pass protections. As a whole, he's getting better with that. Is he Andre Ellington yet? No, absolutely not. Is Tajh having to inform Mike about what's going on? Yes. He'll continue to have to do that over the course of the season. We've just got to make sure that Mike continues to grow and develop, because he's such a weapon for us, such a flash in the pan. He gets on you in a hurry.
Leading up to the Virginia Tech game, Mike Bellamy had his best week of practic, according to Morris. (Roy Philpott)
Morris: That's kind of tough to say right now. I think Andre is, I thought he would be at 100 percent, and you go out there on the field we had, and it's a slick field, you see flashes of Andre, but you just quite haven't seen him turn it loose. We've met with him and talked with him. Again, Andre is definitely a big part of our success. We keep bringing Andre on getting him healthy. I think you're going to see a different Andre as the season keeps going. We really keep waiting for him to break out. I think he's waiting on himself as well. He is to the point right now where he's trying so hard. One thing I say to him is to just relax and just go play. It'll happen when it's supposed to happen. Andre, we've got to get him going and get him back to 100 percent.
What have you seen that's helped Dwayne Allen emerge this year?
Morris: I think you go back to when I first got hired in January. Two days or a day into it, when they introduced to me to the team. One of the questions asked to me by Dwayne was do I use a tight end in my offense. At the time they thought it was five-wide, throw it, the whole bit. My response back to Dwayne was, 'If you trust me, believe in me, we'll make you one of the most versatile players in the country.' I think you're seeing that in Dwayne. As a true on the line tight end, as you're seeing him in and out of structure, motioning in and out of formations, being able to run different routes that he hasn't had to run in the past -- very versatile. I refer to Charles Clay that I had at Tulsa, which is now starting for the Miami Dolphins. He's along that type of ball player. He's not just a tight end. Are you going to treat him just as a receiver? Are you going to treat him just as a tight end? He creates mismatch problems. That's what we try to do with him as well...the thing that brings you back to Dwayne more than anything, yes he's a good football player, but his leadership in that locker room, both offensively and defensively, that guy is a leader. When he talks, people listen, even me.
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