Hurry up and wait

As Chad Morris sat down for his weekly session with Clemson reporters, one media member joked that if the pace moved too quickly, he'd just take a knee.

"You won't be the first," Morris said with a laugh. "Probably not the last, either."

Clemson's third-year offensive coordinator loves to talk about tempo, and it was an especially hot topic following the No.8 Tigers' 38-35 win over No.5 Georgia.

Several Bulldogs went to one knee with potentially dubious injuries, with speculation that they were designed to slow Clemson's ultra-quick tempo. Some suggested that linebacker Leonard Floyd sandbagged to slow it, but Georgia coach Mark Richt said he was inadvertently kicked in a sensitive area by tailback Rod McDowell.

"I'm not going to address all that," Morris said. "I think we all see the same thing and you see it more relevant throughout the country in these hurry-up, no-huddle teams."

Did it happen Saturday?

"It's hard to say," Morris said. "But I think we all see the same thing."

Morris says he has faced the same problems going back to his time as head coach at Lake Travis (Tex.) High School outside of Austin and through his time as Tulsa's offensive coordinator.

So what can be done?

"You figure someone is going to have to do something," he said. "From a liability standpoint, I don't know what you can do. As an official, what would it be a delay of game? You're going to flag somebody for something like that. Again, those are just things you do, our tempo's going pretty good when people do that to us. But I'm worried about my own house burning down."

In reality, Morris was far more concerned with how he could increase his team's tempo, not others slowing it down. Clemson ran 76 plays Saturday (79 with penalties), but he said the Tigers could have easily added 10 more without mistakes.

"We can play faster," he said. "Tajh (Boyd) slowed us down a whole bunch. That was some of his biggest downfalls. He played well. He played like a veteran, like he's supposed to play. But as far as the tempo, especially in the third and fourth quarter, he was the one slowing us down because he wasn't getting his eyes to the sidelines quick enough. So those are things we've got to improve on."

Those, Morris said, are first-game issues.

"Going back with notes from last year, you get caught up in the moment, it's the same thing. What I'm asking is that his eyes get around extremely quick. I'm being very picky when I'm grading in this regard. Those are things, you get caught up in the moment. He's carrying his fake out, not getting his eyes around fast enough for us to get three more snaps a game. That's all I said, Tajh we could have gotten three more snaps a game, maybe five if you get your eyes around quicker.

"Those are things we can improve, those are fixable. We had two three and outs, and that cost us a minimum of six more snaps in the game. While we snapped the ball 79 times, had some penalties in there, only got credited for 76. We made them line up 79 times in a stance. I felt like we could have gotten 10 more snaps in the game. Those are things we work on, we'll be faster this week."

More from Morris on the six drops by wide receivers
"I mean, Tajh goes 18 of 30 with six drops. We can improve that. That's been uncharacteristic of us this spring and this fall. We know what these guys, our receiving corps has done this spring and fall. We're going to get drops, I know that, but we can't have six drops and in critical situations on third down and situations that could have led to more points. Those are things… we will (improve). Brandon Ford had five himself (against Auburn). Those guys will get better in that regard. There's plenty of room for improvement. We're definitely going to start in on that. 1-11's not a real good season. It isn't the first game you're going to be remembered by."

On Martavis Bryant, who made a key drop on a long pass from Boyd, and if he's worried about him
"No. Martavis is a special talent, we all know what kind of talent he is. We've seen him make big catches. It was his first time to start, and much like Brandon Ford a year ago, where he was thrust into the limelight, it was his turn (he had some jitters). You saw that with Martavis. He had one really good reception at the end to catch the onside kick. That might have been the biggest one of all. I'd much rather him drop all the others and catch the onside kick than the other way it would happen. He's going to get better. I'm not worried about Martavis at all."

On the offensive line, which allowed one sack and paved the way for 197 rushing yards
"In order for us to move the ball effectively, we have to be able to run the football. I think we saw that. The offensive line had four veteran guys up front. Again, when you have veteran guys, you ask them to play like veterans. We're still a little weak in the pass protection issues, but we'll get that cleaned up. Running the ball was definitely part of the success we had, helped contribute to our success through the night." On Rod McDowell, who had a career-high 132 rushing yards in his first career start: "Hot Rod is a guy, two years ago, was contemplating transferring. He's like all young players, they want to play and contribute right now. He wasn't. But he was never a distraction, and that's what was great about him two years ago. To see him wait his turn and come out in a game of this magnitude and come out and play well, at the stage he was at, says a lot about him and the hard work he's put in. You want to find guys that, when it becomes their turn, they rise above things they think they could achieve. But Hot Rod is definitely one of our leaders and has demonstrated that. Very proud of him and a guy who understands how the program is built."

On how McDowell has improved from a year ago in regards to his running style
"Comparing him to last year, I think he's worked in some regards. He had to become more of a physical runner, and understanding when it's OK to try and hit the home run, and when it's OK to get your three, four yards and get down, understand not every play is going to be bounce it out and go. He did a really good job of setting that up and understanding the right time to get outside. I was proud to see him improve in that area. I think a lot of that has to do with him being a veteran and getting the reps he got last year, and the quality of games he played in."

On Zac Brooks, who had an impressive 31-yard touchdown catch
"I think Zac has come on. We knew he had a good fall, really good spring. To be able to play at the level he played at, make the unbelievable catch on the sidelines, great pass, really good protection up front and be able to knock off a few critical runs, third and short, and another on that critical drive that chewed up a lot of clock."

On the offense and improvement going forward
"While we did some really good things, there are things we as coaches look at where we can get so much better. We've got a long way to go with them. They can get a lot better. So those guys understand that. My point this morning to those guys was that this is just a starting point, this is just a gauge. So now we've set a standard, here's where we are. We've got to improve each week. You see the biggest improvement in your football team, or at least the teams I've been associated with in the past, from week 1 to week 3. Those weeks, you see the biggest growth in your team, and then at that point you ask for a steady climb through the course of the season."

CUTigers.com Top Stories