Midweek with Morris

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris thinks back to the Georgia Tech game, discusses the open date and looks ahead to Wake Forest.


Biggest concerns from the Georgia Tech game?
Morris: Turnovers, if you look at it, that's the number [concern]. We turned the ball over four times. Obviously, the last interception was more of a desperation, trying to get something going. That's something we haven't done all year long, is turn the ball over. We knew that going into every game. We talk about it every day, about protecting the football, not putting the ball in jeopardy. We chart it every day. I don't care who you are, it's hard to beat a good middle school team if you turn the ball over four times. That was the number glaring thing that came out.

Jaron Brown has 20 catches for 265 yards and three touchdowns (Roy Philpott).
Second thing, early on, running the football. While we did have some positive things happening early -- we took the opening drive down and went up 3-0 on it -- had a chance to go up 7 on it. The DB made a good play on the ball, with Jaron [Brown]. Get the ball right back. The very next series, we make two mental mistakes back-to-back. One, it was a read play, should have handed the ball off, instead threw it into the flats. We had some mental mistakes early on that we haven't had, that we haven't been making as of late, over the last few weeks. Then, all of a sudden, you've got three or four series in there and you're not moving the football as effective as you want, and they're chewing the clock up...there were just a lot of things that went into it.

There were some good things that came out. You had the ball for 21 minutes, 400 yards of offense and snapped the ball 60-something times. We've got to find a way to put it into the end zone. Turnovers were, obviously, the big, critical factor in it, and mental mistakes early on.

You've got to give them credit. They brought pressure. Going into their game plan, looking at us, they had to feel like, number one, they had to keep the ball from us. Number two, they had to play extremely well and try to disrupt Tajh [Boyd] and create some turnovers -- you have a chance. In the second series of the game, we give them a chance on the third-down play.

They were pretty disciplined?
Morris: They were. They were bringing pressure and playing over the top of Sammy [Watkins]. I thought that they had a good scheme. It's something we've seen before. You've got to be able to -- I said it all week long -- run the ball early in the game, to establish what we wanted to establish.

It's not the first-time you've been behind at halftime. Was it the same message?
Morris: One of the things coach [Dabo] Swinney said at halftime, don't worry about the scoreboard right now. Let's worry about -- we get the ball back. Let's go score. We're a second half football team. We have been all year long. Scoring 35 points in one quarter to just playing our best football in the second half. There was no panic. Being down 24-3, we knew that the first four minutes of the third quarter were as viable of four minutes at any point in time in that game. To come out in 1:05 and go down and score a touchdown, boom, you're right in it. Here we go. We knew time was not in our favor. That was the thing. As you approach the second half, you didn't know how much time you were going to actually get, but it wasn't on our side. We had to try to do some things. We threw the ball a lot more in the second half than I really wanted to. We had to try to make up some time.

What did you think of offensive line's mentality?
Morris: I think Georgia Tech played like a team that was playing for their life. They had their back against the wall. They were in a must-win situation. I think they played that way. Watching their defense, that's the way they played. They played aggressive, they took a lot of chances. I think, from our offensive line's mentality, early in the game, overall I think we pass protected well. They didn't give up any sacks. I would have liked to see us run the football. It was series three and four of the game...it seemed like we were playing behind the sticks a little bit. I think our overall mentality, I was very disappointed. I was disappointed in some of the mental mistakes that we were making. It was very uncharacteristic of us.

"I think not having Andre [Ellington] hurt. I think, while D.J. [Howard] and Mike [Bellamy] did a good job, you didn't have that leadership in there."

I think not having Andre hurt. I think, while D.J. and Mike did a good job, you didn't have that leadership in there. But I do think, though, when we did run the ball in the second half, we were able to run it a little bit effectively.

Mike did a good job. It's just been this way all year long with our young guys, you have to protect the football. It's no secret.

How would you evaluate Tajh's effort overall?
Morris: I think, looking at Tajh and evaluating him after watching film, I think he's played a lot better this year, without a doubt. That was kind of one of the things that stood out to me. There were times he wasn't setting his feet like it needed to be set, especially some of the throws out to the flats, the little flare routes, check downs. His feet weren't set, he was throwing side arm and the ball was sailing on him or was behind a running back. He's played a lot better, and he was disappointed, just like everybody else was.

The first interception...
Morris: It's designed for a field throw, unless there was a press look on the backside, or a one-high look. The safety did roll down weak, which forced his eyes to go back to the boundary. At that point, he has his tight end as an option and he has Sammy as an option. Unless Tajh had checked him high, tapped him high to go to a fade concept, the ball should have either went to the tight end or the front pylon in the end zone.

After talking with Tajh and asking Tajh, it was almost as if Tajh was so quick to get the ball out of his hand. Again, it was real uncharacteristic. Even if you are going to throw that, you read the turn of the DB. It was a miscommunication.

What are you focusing on this week?
Morris: You just go back to fundamentals, go back to basics, getting guys healthy. I think that's the important thing right now. You've got some guys that have been in a stretch run. They've been going now for 12 weeks. You've got to get them back healthy. We saw how important Andre is to us, more so in a pass protection scheme. While our young backs did a great job, it gives Tajh the confidence in knowing the fronts and the protection schemes. That has a lot to do with it right now. Going back to fundamentals. Ain't nobody panicking. I can promise you, I'm not panicking. I'm very confident in what we're doing. I'm very confident in what we've been doing. This is a spped bump along the way. We'll find out a lot about ourselves over the next week and a half.

Is one of the next steps in his development being able to open it up more at the beginning?
Morris: I think we've got to involve him more in the run game. We've got to get him more in a groove. You hope, now that we're nine games in, that he's able to come out and open it up more.

What's your sense with Andre and where his ankle is?
Morris: I think, going into this week, he's started working out. Did a little bit on Monday. Not just Andre, we've got to get them all healthy. I think the open week is coming at a much needed time for our players, both mentally and physical. We've got to get these guys back and back to getting them on track.

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