More from Morris What was it about those games against Virginia Tech last year?
Morris: I don't know if we so much had our way with them, as the fact that we played well. We had to earn everything we got, especially when we were up there. We didn't play necessarily as good of offensive football up there, especially in the first half, as we would have like to have played. A lot of that had to do with them. They're a very sound defensive team. We played them in the championship game, same story. In the first half, we were kind of trading punches. In the second half, we were able to hit on some big plays and capitalize on some opportunities.
I think, as you look at what Virginia Tech has right now, and where they were prior to Duke…you can definitely tell, after watching the Duke game, analyzing and breaking that down, it is a totally different defense, as far as the way they're playing. The effort level that they're playing at, coach [Bud] Foster will have them ready. I can promise you that.
What were your biggest focuses for the open week and what do you feel like you got accomplished?
Morris: We had to focus on ourselves, No. 1. We had to go back and look at the Tigers, analyze what we've done well the first six games and things that we haven't done well, and try to figure out why. If there are things that you haven't done well, you either throw them out or try to get better at it. I think we've had a really productive open week. It was an opportunity for us to get our legs back underneath us for this final six-game stretch run. There was a lot of talk to our players about last year's last six games of the season. I don't think that needs to go unnoticed. That's something we talked about every day. It's not going to be the first six games that you're remembered by. It'll be the last six. That's something that we wanted to stress to our players, and understand that they've got to have that hunger, and keep that hunger as they approach the final six weeks of this season.
Tajh has had some turnovers, what did y'all do in the open week to correct those?
Morris: We addressed it, No. 1, as we do each week, just reminding him the last two games, I think he's turned the ball over four times. Three interceptions and one fumble. You can say a couple of those interceptions the ball should never have been thrown. Those are things we need to improve on. We can lose focus on what got us to this point.
Again, kind of repeating year ago, you can probably take a press conference a year ago and I was saying the same thing. We can't lose focus of that. That's when we started this downfall, when we started losing our focus at the quarterback position and not being able to take care of the football, turning the football over, making ill-advised throws, making uncontested throws that shouldn't have ever been made. That's unacceptable. Tip ball interception like what happened against Georgia Tech, that's going to happen. Balls that shouldn't have been thrown, those are things you've got to correct and work on. Definitely have to take care of the football. When he's taking care of the football, we're at our best.
How would you evaluate the offensive line as a whole, through these first six games?
Morris: There's been some improvement. Kind of going into fall camp, the inconsistency at left guard. It was Kalon [Davis] then it was David [Beasley], then David gets hurt and it goes back to Kalon. We've had Ryan Norton in there. There just hasn't been the consistency that we need. With an open week now, David should be fully healthy and ready to go. We've got to have those guys playing at their best right now.
At the right tackle position with Giff Timothy, same type of deal. We just have had the consistency there that we need…the competition behind him is not where it needs to be. We've got guys pushing him, but they're not at a point where they're truly threatening to take somebody's job at this point. We hope to develop that. That's one thing we worked on during the open week. We hope that comes, but it'll come with time. We've got some young guys behind him that we're really excited about, but they're not ready now.
Did Sammy Watkins lose any kind of weight?
Morris: I think he lost from five to eight pounds, somewhere in that area. I don't know that to be specific. But I think he's lost a little bit. It's actually made him a little bit quicker. That's what I told him the other day.
Has he been feeling pretty good?
Morris: He has. We really ran him, ran him hard and conditioned him; kind of put him in some adverse situations. Glad to see that. This will be a big week for him. We're excited about it.
How would you evaluate Sammy's drop in productivity?
Morris: It's not that our productivity from our offense has dropped any. I think that people are playing him different. We're still getting him the football. That's how I'd look at it. The only thing I'm gauging things on is his three games that he's played this year. Now that we've got him in shape, he should be back and ready to go.
Can you quantify what kind of a leader Dalton Freeman is?
Morris: Dalton is a huge leader for this football team. For those guys up front, he provides that stability. As a young group, that's what you've got to have. With Giff Timothy, he looks to Dalton. And Tyler Shatley, even though Tyler plays as consistently as any of our offensive linemen, they look to Dalton to provide them that stability.
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