More than meets the eye

CLEMSON - According to Chad Morris, there are three tools that every quarterback needs to be successful.

Morris has pretty solid track record with quarterbacks during his coaching career.

As a high school coach in Texas, he sent several on to the college level, including Jevan Snead [Ole Miss], Kody Spano [Nebraska], Andrew Smith [North Texas] and Scott Elliott [Tulane].

During his one season at Tulsa, Morris coached G.J. Kinne, who's since gone on to a career in the NFL with Eagles and Jets. For the last three years it's been Tajh Boyd, and he's on track to be in the league in about six months.

While all of those guys are capable throwers, that's not the most important attribute that Morris thinks that a quarterback needs.

"Quarterback, you play with your eyes as much as anything. It all starts with your feet and your eyes," Morris said. "The arm is the last thing."

And he's a firm believer in that.

"Everybody talks about, ‘This guy has to have a strong arm and all that.' No, it's footwork and his eyes," Morris said. "Being able to deceive you, it's more of a deception than anything. The eyes, either I'm holding you to get the ball here or I'm trying to scare you this way, to hand the ball off.

"It's all with your eyes."

Boyd has the arm part down, always has. Over the last three years, Morris has worked with Boyd to improve the two more important attributes, particularly the footwork.

In Clemson's blowout win over Syracuse, Boyd passed for 455 yards and five touchdowns. His arm, as usual, looked good. The eyes and footwork weren't bad either.

Neither was Boyd's presence inside the pocket.

"I thought there were a couple of times he rushed himself a little bit, but I do think that he's getting better in that regard," Morris said. "His footwork is getting better. His mechanics are getting better. His base…he's still got things he's working on and we're working on hard, to continue. It's a slow, gradual climb to get better every week."

The three physical attributes, eyes, footwork and arm strength act in concert together to help form a quarterback's pocket presence.

Morris tries to tie in all three everyday in practice.

"We try to spend 15-20 minutes a day on footwork, to try to make it game-like where he actually sees those situations on the field," Morris said. "Then, you take them into your team settings, and try to try to simulate them more in a true 11-on-11 drill. [Boyd is] a guy that's real consciences of his footwork now and has been."

In Morris' opinion, Peyton Manning has the best pocket presence of any quarterback playing the game today.

"Peyton Manning, obviously, is one of the best there is, if not the best," Morris said. "Those guys that aren't as mobile, they're not more apt to pull the ball down and run, because they know their limitations, so they've got to be [more] precise with their footwork and their eye placement." Top Stories