The early returns

CLEMSON - Offensive coordinator Chad Morris assesses the early returns on Germone Hopper, Tajh Boyd and the race for the No. 2 quarterback and more in this extensive report.

Through the first four days of practice, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris tells CUTigers there's a long ways to go between now and the season opener against No. 25 Auburn.

But really, that shouldn't be a surprise.

Considering the Tigers have yet to put on full pads for the first time, Morris says the bulk of the work is yet to be done.

"First couple of days you see how hard they worked this summer," he said. "You get an idea of the conditioning and the whole bit and that's been good. I've been pleased with that. Now we've got the shoulder pads you start to see the guys that like to bite and those that don't.

"Some of them were biting really hard in shorts and shirts and other don't. We'll see. Full pads come on tomorrow and we can start going to the ground with them. I saw some good things but we are a long ways a way from being where we need to be."

For the record, Dalton Freeman, Brandon Thomas, Ryan Norton and a handful of others on the offensive line were mentioned as the early "biters."

He also added a few more names to his list, too.

"Shaq Anthony is another name that keeps popping up. It's now time for David Beasley to step up. It's his turn. Kalon Davis - that's another one. And Giff Timothy is another guy," Morris said.

EARLY ASSESSMENT WITH TAJH: When asked about the progression of Tajh Boyd up to this point in preseason camp, Morris said his job the next few weeks is to make the redshirt junior as uncomfortable as possible.

Uncomfortable? You bet.

"He's more comfortable than he's ever been and that's in a good way. But when I coach him I've got to make him uncomfortable. He's still, what you expect right now... he's still making mistakes. But he's definitely the leader of this football team and he's showing that.

Chad Morris said Germone Hopper is as "electric" a player Clemson has on its roster right now. (Roy Philpott)
"I've seen a lot of good things out of Tajh but we have to have the consistency we expect out of him. We saw it in flashes last year."

Priority No. 1 for Morris and Boyd, of course, will be to cut back on the interceptions. The first-team All-ACC pefrormer threw 12 a season ago.

Morris also wants the offense to cut back on the 35 sacks suffered last season.

THE RACE FOR NO. 2: Sophomore Cole Stoudt continues to hold the slight edge over Morgan Roberts and Chad Kelly for the backup quarterback spot.

"Stoudt is, right now, our No. 2 without a doubt," Morris said. "Morgan Roberts is a guy that is battling Cole. That's where we are right there.

"Chad Kelly is doing a good job right now but he's just young and everything is in kind of a haze for him. But those two right now are in a two-way battle. Once Chad starts to figure everything out and the game slows down for him it will help him."

HOPPER WATCH: Freshman wide receiver Germone Hopper appears to be the next in line for the Tigers in terms of explosive skill players.

The North Carolina native and former four-star prospect has looked the part through the early stages of preseason camp, and Morris says the potential is certainly there.

He also offered the following commentary:

"I wouldn't want to race him," he claimed. "He doesn't have to be ready today but he has to be ready on Sept. 1. Do I think he's going to have an opportunity? Absolutely. No question about it.

"When the ball is in his hands he is electric as anybody we've got."

Considering all the talent Clemson has assembled at the skill positions, that's saying something.

Could he be the Tigers' secret weapon against Auburn in the Georgia Dome?

We'll see.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are some guys, I'm afraid if I mentioned, if they read it, there may not be a sharpie in four counties because they'll want to be signing too many autographs." - Chad Morris when asked about other freshmen that have impressed him. Top Stories