How hard has it been getting everybody dialed back in since you had some time off?
As far as getting them dialed back in, these guys were ready to go, ready to get back. There was a lot of pep in our step yesterday, a lot of excitement to get back out here as a team, and to get going again. After a week off, you could definitely tell that their conditioning wasn't quite nearly what it needed to be. The last couple of days, we've kind of spent a lot of days running. That's good. They needed tat right now. It was good to get them back out here.
Has everything been signed?
Are you talking about our contract?
Yes. We did that Monday morning. I was out all last week. I knew that the details were being ironed out, as far as that. I know that coach [Dabo] Swinney, Terry Don [Phillips] and myself, it was Monday morning. First thing Monday morning, we got all that done.
Not to pry, but now that you're the highest paid assistant coach, does that bring a certain degree of humility?
I don't know about all that. I'm very honored this university has made a huge commitment, obviously. There were a lot of things going on, in the mix. As far as what's been done here, it's a great time to be a Tiger. This university has definitely made a huge commitment. You've got to respect that. We don't want to go anywhere. We're completely happy with Clemson. Our family is excited to be here, as well as I am.
Can you use the launching point for the ACC Championship game or do you go back a little further?
We've got a lot of momentum coming off the way we played in the championship game. There was so much that we learned prior to the championship game, how to deal with things, how our players deal with things -- no to overload them. We're not there yet. We've got to go back. The week of the championship game, coach Swinney really stressed that week to go back to our basics and throw out things that don't work. That's both sides of the ball and special teams. Dialing back in and doing our base stuff. Obviously, getting guys back healthy was a key, too. Those are things we've got to focus on the next 15, 16 practices. Just going back to basics.
Not having a Mike Bellamy available, say something should happen to Andre in the game, where do you go from there?
I think you've got to have them all ready to go. I think Tajh has got to become part of this. You saw that in the championship game. He ran the ball more effectively in the prior four weeks that he was running. When we were clicking early in the year…that was something we he's gotten away from. We really challenged him last week, to run the football. For this offense to roll and click like it needs to click, we've got to be able to run the football effectively. The quarterback running it, running backs, whoever. We've got to be able to involve the running game and get him involved in it.
Will D.J. Howard and Rod McDowell be the guys to get some more time with Mike out?
Those are the guys that will be backing him up. You've got to be creative in some areas. I think you saw Sammy running the ball quite a bit, Tajh running the ball. You've got to be creative and got to be able to take some pressure off. I think D.J. is a guy that comes in next. Behind will be Hot Rod. That's all we've got. We've got three. We've got to make the best of it.
So Sammy could be more of a running back for you?
I think you're going to see him involved in the running game. We've done that this year, to take some pressure off of our running backs, especially when Andre was out, when Andre was hurt. We're trying to incorporate Sammy a lot. He's got to be a threat.
In the future, as you get to the spring, maybe you've thought about it on the ride home…
We'll have some guys coming in January. We're in need of a running back right now. With Andre getting back to being healthy, we hope Andre comes back next year. We feel like he will. We're in need of a running back. There's no question about it.
You've got some young guys on the offensive line that didn't play a lot this year. How do you get them involved in these 15, 16 practices?
They've gotten a lot of reps this year in practice. These guys have got to come on. They've got to use these 15 days, plus the practices we had two weeks ago for the championship -- trying to take it like another spring ball. You're almost going to get two full springs out of them. They've got to understand the importance of them coming on and being developed and get their technique right. It's something that's a huge concern. We've got to get these guys going.
Who do you see as guys who could step in and play a big role next year?
You've got to hope that Kalon [Davis] would come on. Kalon's got to be more physical. There are several others. It's hard to mention all of them right now, and which ones. Right now, I couldn't really tell you. If I started mentioning names, they might think they're starters or something and not work. I can promise you something. I will not be their best friend. It ain't happening. That's an area that we're addressing with these young guys. They've got to know, right now, the importance. They've got to use these 15 practices, plus spring ball, to get ready to go.
Can you talk about Phillip Price?
That guy is an anchor on that offensive line. He is what you're after. He, Dalton, Landon -- those guys have anchored that front. Phillip has meant so much to us because of where he came from, having to walk-on and earn everything that he got. When nobody gave him a chance, he battled through it. That shows so much about him and his drive and his character.
You've got to love a guy who doesn't wear shoes and you have to tell him to put a shirt on. He may not take a bath. You've got to love a guy like that. That's what you want on your offense. You want guys that are mean, rugged and they just don't care. That's what we've got to get. That's our focus…we've got to get guys a lot more tougher than where we are right now. That's my job. That's what we're going to do. From a mental standpoint, from a physical standpoint, from the weight room to conditioning, we've got to become more mentally tough in that regard, to be able to run the football more effectively.
Would you be surprised if Dwayne Allen decided to stay?
Would I be surprised? Absolutely not. Dwayne is motivated by how can he help, what can he do to make things better. It wouldn't be a surprise either way. I've talked with him. I've shared, from my selfish standpoint, what I wanted. I want him to come back, because I know what kind of a player he can be…I hope he does what‘s best for him. But I hope he does what's best for this university, too. We'd love to have him back.
What have you seen out of West Virginia's defense?
They're very fast. They run exceptionally well. They run a 3-3-5 defense. They're one of the better pass defenses in the country. They're ranked 15th in the country. A lot of that is because they disguise a lot of things that they do with their 3-3 stack look. They'll rush three and drop eight. We've got to be able to run the football. We've got to attack some different areas, in that regard. The one thing about a 3-3-5, we ran it at Tulsa. Working with coach Graham, he was at West Virginia with them all those years. Going against a 3-3-5, I've seen that. It's a little different in some regards. They run really well. They're not really big. Their linebackers play so aggressive and they're down the hill when they play. They do a good job of disguising there coverage. They're well-coached.
Are you surprised that Gus Malzahn took the job at Arkansas State?
I knew that his goal was to be a head coach. I'm excited for him, Kristi and the girls that he's able to achieve that dream as a head coach. To be back in his home-state, to recruit that area, he's well-known, to be able to pick up some players. They all can't go to the University of Arkansas.
And coach Graham to Arizona State?
I just found that out as I walked out here. I haven't talked to coach Graham outside of calling a couple of days ago. It kind of surprised me.
Morris talks contract, bowl game
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