A lot to like

CLEMSON - There was plenty for Chad Morris to like about Saturday's 49-point output against Syracuse.

But there are a few things that will continue to stick in his craw over the next few days. It could, perhaps, start with the final possession of the first half when Clemson was kept out of the end zone, despite having the ball inside the Syracuse 10-yardline.

"We'll bring it up. We'll talk about it, go through it, more so [because] there were a couple of situations that we could have done different," Morris said. "I think, more than anything, with our ability to just go ahead and put that final touchdown in there right before half, what it would have done -- just the whole complexity with the start of the third quarter.

"It could have changed the whole thing. We had our opportunity to do that and we didn't do that."

All parties involved were responsible for the inability to come away with six points.

"I can do a better job as a play caller down there, too. It ain't just on them," Morris said. "Now, blocking and not hitting the guy in front of you, we've got them in a good spot right there. We've got to make that block.

"A couple of those others, the fourth-down call, we probably could have went to another play that we had that I probably liked a little better. It happens. That's part of it. That won't be the only bad call I make the rest of the year. Hopefully, it is."

The state of the run game

Against Syracuse, Clemson rushed for 156 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry.

"I knew last week we were not going to be effective -- it was going to be tough sledding last week with everything they did and the pressure they brought inside the middle," Morris said.

The numbers on the ground have been down all season, but a drop in run game production was to be expected. That comes with the territory when the school's best running back since C.J. Spiller moves on to begin his own career in the NFL.

Through five games in the league, Andre Ellington has rushed 18 times for 120 yards and caught 13 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.

In 2012, Ellington's senior season at Clemson, the Tigers finished with 191.5 yards rushing per game, which was 36th in the country. This season's average of 175 is 66th.

Morris didn't express any concerns with the decline.

"Zac Brooks continues to run the ball hard. Hot Rod [McDowell] showed his moments the other night, looked good," Morris said. "Obviously, we can get better. We'd much rather be rushing the ball for well over 200 yards a game."

McDowell continues to lead the team in yards [294]. Tajh Boyd is second with 154 and first in touchdowns [four]. Brooks is third in yards [138] but is first in yards per carry [at least 10 carries] with 4.9.

"I think Zac is definitely working his way into it. He provides good pass protection. He's becoming a well-rounded back, there's no question about," Morris said. "I think he and Hot Rod are very good one, two punch right now with D.J. [Howard] and C.J. [Davidson] behind them."

The next gear

After Saturday's game in the Carrier Dome, Sammy Watkins told reporters that he ran as fast as he had during his Clemson career to make the 91-yard touchdown catch happen.

He had to, to catch Boyd's pass down the Syracuse sideline.

"He hit another gear about the 25-yardline, the 30-yardline," Morris said. "I hadn't seen that gear in a while. He definitely hit another notch on it.

"I don't know if he thought Tajh could throw it that far or what, but he did. It was good to see those connect on that play. It was a much needed play at that time in the game."

Handling the fame

While Boyd may be the big man on campus, Morris said the success hasn't gone to his head.

"Tajh, he's a pleasure to be around. He's a great guy to coach. He's spent an incredible amount of time in the film room this year preparing, which has been good to see. As much time as he's put in, he's just seeing the benefits of that," Morris said. "Tajh Boyd will be Tajh Boyd. It doesn't matter, the accolades, the records he breaks, he's still going to be the same guy. That's what everybody likes about him.

"He's not only the face of this program, the university, but this is a guy that people want their sons to be like...not just a football player, but just the person that he is.

"It doesn't mean that he doesn't have his faults. It doesn't mean that he doesn't make mistakes, makes mistakes on the field, whatever it may be. He's a guy that's passionate about what he does. He loves what he does. He loves his university."

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