More from Morris

CLEMSON - Just in case you haven't noticed, Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris packs a lot of punch anytime he sits down for an interview.

The fast-talking assistant from Texas is always candid in his assessment of the Clemson offense.

That's why we've got more to share from Monday's interview with Morris. Here's the rest of what he had to say:

How confident are you with the offensive line now, as you enter this game?
Morris: I'm extremely confidence in them. We've got to come out. It's a mindset. I've been saying that since I got here. It's a mindset with those guys up front. Giff Timothy, obviously, gives us the best chance up front [at right tackle]. We've got Giff and Tyler Shatley, of course Dalton [Freeman], David Beasley at left guard. Obviously, you'll see Kalon [Davis] in there, and Brandon Thomas.

I feel good about those guys. Until you start getting some live bullets flying at them, all we can go on is simulate as close to game situations as we can in practice. You put them out there in front of 75,000 people, we want that veteran leadership of Dalton and Brandon Thomas to really step up and help those guys out.

We'll see. We'll see. It's definitely a day-to-day progress. Just because we've named the starting lineup, doesn't mean it's set in stone. It could change today. We want competition. That's one of the best things we feel like we've got to have.

How do you feel like this line has done in short-yardage and some of the goal line situations during camp?
Morris: Well, we could obviously get better. There are some things that we're doing to try and help them out. We've gotten better. To what extent, I don't know. Talk to me after Saturday. I'll let you know more then on short-yardage. That's one of our focuses. What can we do? How can we get better on third-and-1, and third-and-2?

That's been a big focus during camp and spring ball. It's an ownership thing. It's a pride, ownership -- say hey, ‘This is on me.' Go get it. That's what we want from our group up front.


Morris likes the athleticism of Brandon Thomas the rest of the Clemson offensive linemen.
This year's line is obviously less experienced than last years. Do you see some areas where they're better?
Morris: I think, talent-wise, as far as athleticism and their ability, we're much more athletic. We move better, which is good in the scheme that we have. Just fitting together the cohesiveness that you're asking for with those guys, you earn that through playing time, you earn that through repetition, just over and over and over with those guys. That's why it was so important last week to find those guys -- this is it right here. Let's stick with them and let them compete against each other. I think, from an athletic standpoint, we're better in that regard.

Do you plan to help those guys out in the opener with extra blockers?
Morris: I don't know about extra blockers, but you try to do everything you can to take pressure off those guys. They're division one players. They've got scholarships. It's time to go play. That's what we expect of them. Nobody's going to hold their hand. I'm not going to hold their hand. They're there. They're here. I feel really good about those guys. They've got to be able to step in and give it a go. That's the attitude that you want from the front.

Again, you've got two guys that are returning. You want Dalton's leadership and Brandon Thomas' leadership to really step up. Tyler Shatley is a guy that's earned so much respect. He's essentially a veteran player as well. You really want those guys to step up and say, ‘Hey, put it on us. Let's go.' I feel good about them. We need to have a really good week of practice this week. They'll be ready to go. I'm excited about it.

How important will it be to be able to run the ball against this team?
Morris: I think, whoever you're playing, whether you're playing Auburn or whoever you may be playing, it's important to run the football, regardless. In our scheme, that's what we do. We want to run the football. We want to be as balanced as possible. We want to run the football. Whoever you're playing right now, running the football is extremely important, to be able to establish the run game.

How has Brandon Ford improved in the area of being more physical?
Morris: He has. Brandon had a real good summer. He's had a good fall camp. He's a guy that presents, obviously, a lot of challenges, because of the way he plays and the speed he plays at. That's his m-o. That's what he does. He's gotten extremely physical and playing well. He had a good fall camp. Again, he's a guy that played a lot last year. Now, he's in a starting role. How's he going to respond? I'm excited to see Brandon. I think Brandon is going to be a guy that will have a chance to be one of the top players in the country this year. I really feel that way.

Since you're not playing his team, did you talk to Gus about some of the stuff you're going to incorporate this season?
Morris: Not a whole lot. We talked a little bit, but it was more on changing some ideas, like we do every year. We'll get together in clinic and talk a little bit. But, as far as talking about this game much, we haven't talked about it.

Did you bounce some of those ideas from Nevada his way?
Morris: It just goes back to sharing ideas and places he went and visited on. We just kind of crossed ideas, to see if it fits, see some things he was doing, to see if it fit what we were doing and if things we're doing fit he's doing. But, yeah, we try to always, each year, get together and share ideas. No question. We did.

What do you say to Clemson fans who see Tajh's interception numbers and turnovers in scrimmages and their concern about that?
Morris: A lot of it was just situational, whether it be the last play of the game or what. Obviously, those are things we talk about daily in meeting rooms, and understanding where to go with the football. Learning from it, that's why we get out there and practice and put them in those situations with the pressure on, to see how he's going to respond. I think you'll find Tajh -- if you remember back last year with Tajh -- Tajh was at his best when he was just playing, and he wasn't trying to do too much.

"Nobody cares how you got your team in the end zone just get them in the end zone. I think that's extremely important."

Now, being a veteran player, Tajh has got to understand that not every play is going to score. Not every play is designed to score. It's his job to manage the game and move the chains. Whether it's with his feet, his eyes, his arm, whatever it maybe, manage the game and move the chains. Nobody cares how you got your team in the end zone just get them in the end zone. I think that's extremely important. That's the things we've talked about.

Do you see him as more potent of a running threat than he was at the end of last season?
Morris: Most definitely. He's obviously got his weight way down. He's done a good job running the football. Again, it's about managing the game and moving the chains. You keep those sticks moving with your feet, your eyes, your arm, whatever it is. That's something he's done a good job of this fall camp, being able to be more elusive.

Who are two guys on [Auburn's] defense, when Tajh comes to the line of scrimmage, he better know where they are?
Morris: I think there are several of those guys. You better know where all those guys up front are. I think they're as probably as good a defensive front as we've seen, those two defensive ends. They're extremely athletic, speed rush guys. Sound in the secondary, so there's not really one or two guys you point. We've got our keys and all that, but definitely up front, those guys are very athletic. They're back. They were so young last year. A couple of them were injured and didn't get to play a whole lot. I know they're extremely excited about their defensive front.

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