All things considered with the offensive line, it's done well.
Morris: Real well, yeah. I'm a typical coach. I want to be able to line up and knock everybody off the ball, three yards every play. I know that's not going to happen. I'm proud of those guys. They are. We've tried to develop that continuity of those five guys, but you just wish you had a little more competition to push those guys, a Brandon Thomas, to motivate a David Beasley, which we do. Ryan Norton's come in and kind of given us that spark. But Ryan's also having to give a spark at center, at right guard and at left guard. So there's just nobody at that tackle position, either tackle, that's really ready to make a push. But I'm proud of them. I think that those guys would be a little more on edge if they knew their job was at stake every week.
The lack of touches by the tight ends over the last couple of weeks, is that people scheming to take it away?
Morris: No, I don't think so. Looking back at our production from that 3-back position from where we were a year ago to where we are now, it's not. Obviously, we were ahead last year with Dwayne [Allen]. It is what it is right now. Sam's got to be a guy that's going to push Brandon Ford on a little bit. We've got to get Brandon playing faster. He's just not playing with that sudden burst that maybe he was a little bit early in the year. I know he's kind of been banged up a little bit. We've got to get Brandon going a little bit. I think the competition with same behind him is going to push him. I really do.
With Martavis Bryant back and all that zero coverage and man-to-man from Duke, it's got to be good to have that weapon out there.
Morris: It is. It's good to see Tay get going and get him in the mix, catching a few balls the other night. Jaron Brown, there were several of them.
He provides such a great acceleration and big body. We're excited that he's back 100 percent, as well. We got Sammy [Watkins] going. We know what Nuk [Hopkins] has done. Jaron had a great night the other night. Martavis and those guys have really gotten going.
Our offensive line, getting everybody going and Andre going in the run game -- I think, the one thing, a year ago at this time, I didn't feel like we were playing our best football. Right now, I feel like we're really starting to see that gradual climb. I think one of the best things that happened to us, from an offensive standpoint, was Virginia Tech. I think it brought some of these guys back down to earth and realized, you better bring your a-game every week.
Is it wrong thinking that Tajh was going to have a pretty good game when he threw the ball away on third-down on one of the first two drives?
Morris: I thought that was one of his best passes all night. He was able to throw it away, again, just being able to manage the game. He gets these tip sheets, reminders, I call them game day reminders that we put in his locker. It's just three little bullet points, four bullet points. That's one of them every week. Manage the game and move the chains. Sometimes, your best pass will be to throw it away...when you see him doing those things early, he's on.
What are the reasons you feel better at 7-1 than 8-0?
Morris: I think they're playing with more confidence. I think they chemistry is really sound. Obviously, there are some production levels at certain positions that haven't produced like they did last year, and that's OK, because other positions have produced more. So that's always good to see, other guys kind of stepping in. Watching Tajh, we talk about being part of the run game, and him being able to grow up in this thing the last seven, eight weeks -- see him mature. Again, I feel like we're starting that gradual peak, that gradual rise over the next four weeks. That's a good indication. Obviously, we're further involved in our offense than a year ago at this time. Everything was brand new to them. Everything I was putting in was brand new. Now it's, OK, it all kind of flows together. There are some concepts that kind of work together.
On Thursday you mentioned leaving Tajh in for that last series…
Morris: I went to coach [Dabo] Swinney. I found out that he was nine yards short of a career high. For what he's done for our program and what he's done here, I think that it says a lot. Can we get him his career high? Something without getting him hit. That was one thing I had to promise coach Swinney, he wouldn't get hit. So I was trying to call the plays that he wouldn't get hit.
We dropped the first one. The second gets batted. At that point, this is it. I ain't battling for you on this third-down call here. You're on your own on this one. You're coming out. Luckily, we were able to find it. He found it. It was great for him and obviously for the program and what he's done here.
Is there any part of that, to have it in the back of your mind? When you go recruiting you can say Tajh is breaking this record, Sammy is doing that.
Morris: I think, as you look at it, I thought Thursday night -- national television with everybody in the country watching. I know what we do on Thursday night and our players do. I thought it was great for recruiting. I really do. I think it's great for the showing that we had. It was really good for recruits. Those are things that you go out and talk about, sell your program to. You sell what you do offensively and this is what we do. Look at the records that you've broken here, because that's all they are. They're going to be broken again. It's just a matter of time.
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