Morris fired up for round two

SENECA - What does Chad Morris have in mind for an encore? A little bit of everything -- more plays, yards and points.

As if year No. 1 wasn't impressive enough.

Clemson finished last season ranked 16th in the country with 6,171 yards of total offense and 26th with 440.8 yards per game. The Tigers were 17th nationally in scoring with 470 points and 24th in points per game [33.6].

In 2012, Morris hopes to see more from his hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

"Our goal is to be the No. 1 offense in the country. We firmly believe that's what we can do and we can achieve," he said during the annual Dabo Swinney media golf outing at Cross Creek Plantation.

The second-year assistant thinks there was some meat left on the bone in 2011.

"We had a decent year, offensively, last year," Morris said. "We left so many hidden yards and hidden points out there. We weren't mature enough to get it or we were unable to get it."


Boyd was named ACC Player of the Year in 2011.
A veteran quarterback
At critical points last season, Clemson would be without a key contributor on the offensive side of the ball. Whether it was Sammy Watkins, Andre Ellington or Phillip Price, Tajh Boyd would struggle if one, two or all three were sidelined with an injury.

"It seemed like it kind of disrupted his comfort zone," Morris said. "He was a rookie then. Now, he's a veteran quarterback. We expect him to be -- no matter who's on the field -- for him to make 10 other guys around him better."

That, according to Morris, is the proverbial next step for his starting quarterback.

"That's what's going to separate him from being a really good quarterback and being a great quarterback," Morris said. "In my opinion, he has the potential to be one of the best in the country, if not the best quarterback in the country."

Up front
Three starters are gone from last year's offensive line. The returning two, Dalton Freeman [2,402 snaps in 40 games] and Brandon Thomas [913 snaps in 23 games], are the only offensive linemen with significant playing experience.

Starting right guard Tyler Shatley has logged 444 snaps during his career, but all of those were at defensive tackle.

Redshirt sophomores Kalon Davis [left guard] and Gifford Timothy [right tackle] round out the post-spring starters on the line. Both played fewer than 50 snaps last season.

"I'm really excited about this group," Morris said. "Watching them in spring ball and seeing what they're capable of doing. I'm excited about where our offensive line has the capability of being."

Despite the inexperience up front, Morris thinks the group could be better than what many folks are expecting.

"I think the sky is the limit for what our offensive line can achieve," he said. "Again, it's going to be our job to push them out of their comfort zone early on, and really tap into some of the unknowns that they may not know they can achieve, but they're working extremely hard."


Hopper could avoid a redshirt in his first season on campus.
The freshmen skill players
With one spring practice already under his belt, Zac Brooks has been able to build a foundation of familiarity with the system.

The departure of Mike Bellamy all but guarantees that Brooks will play this fall. Morris said as much on Tuesday.

"I think Zac's a guy that's going to be able to come out and go through fall camp with the intent to play. He's a guy that's going to play. He's going to play early, help out," Morris said.

Germone Hopper certainly is talented enough to contribute at wide receiver. But there's a little bit of an unknown since Morris has yet to have the opportunity to work with him.

"He might be one of the quickest guys that we have out there," Morris said. "It's a matter of whether he has the maturity level. Does he have the mental drive to be able to play at this level?"

Go West, young man
To help improve upon his first season at Clemson, Morris and the offensive staff studied the philosophies of two of the most high-powered offenses in the country.

"You have to stay on the cutting edge. You have to find -- what's the best mouse trap? There is a better mouse trap out there," Morris said. "You've just got to go find it. You don't go out to learn an entire offense or a whole complete scheme. You try to pick up a nugget here and there that's going to help you in your system."

For the running game, they studied Nevada's pistol formation. They also checked out Oklahoma State for different ideas on the passing game.

Morris thinks both visits were beneficial.

"I think that's going to help us as we start evolving into this year's offense," he said.

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