One-on-One with Chad Morris
Clemson football offensive coordinator Chad Morris is charged with revamping an offense that was sluggish a year ago and largely responsible for the program's first losing season in 12 years. Morris is two years removed from coaching high school football in Texas, but utilized an up-tempo scheme that made Tulsa one of the top offenses in the nation last season. Morris discussed Clemson's offensive woes and how he plans to utilize the Tigers' acclaimed freshmen when he went One-on-One with The Post and Courier's Travis Sawchik:
What is the next big thing, offensively, in college football?
"It's hard to say, there is so much. I still think the hurry-up system is still on that cutting edge. You are starting to see a few more teams doing it, but you are going to see a lot more teams doing it over the next five to eight years. What I think will eventually happen is you'll see college football change its rules to try not to give the offense an advantage. I think that's coming. I don't know when, and I don't know if they are going to go back to the 25-second clock or what -- there is talk out there. But I think you are going to see something eventually change and go back to a more level playing field."
After reviewing last season's tapes, what caused Clemson's offensive woes?
"For whatever reason, a down-field element was missing. It was nobody's fault. There was a lack of ability to stretch the field deep. They really didn't have a guy that would make people go 'Oh my, we have to watch that guy.' Obviously, they had some possession receivers, but did they have a guy who could run by a safety? I know what we have coming back because I had them in spring ball, and we really didn't have a vertical threat."
We've been told you will have autonomy in play calling. What elements do good play callers share?
"I think you have to know your personnel and I'm not just talking about he's fast and he's not. I think you've had to fight battles in the past. You have to have some skins hanging on the wall. And I think you have to have answers. Football is football -- from high school to college. What works at Lake Travis and Stephenville worked at Tulsa and it will work here, and it works at Auburn and Oregon, wherever. But you have to have some answers and make adjustments off of those and do that at a quicker pace."
Last year, Clemson waited until the fourth week of the season to insert its most talented receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, into the starting lineup. How long will you wait before working in the talented incoming freshmen?
"I think what you are going to see from us this year -- because of the lack of numbers we have and the lack of overall speed we have -- you are going to see some of these guys contribute and contributing early. I think what you will see is their roles increase as the season progresses. Again it goes back to that fine line making sure when we do put them in there, especially early in the year that we are putting them in position to achieve success and not get in there and put them in bad situations. Let's just use Mike Bellamy for example. Let's say he's a 10-15 plays-per-game guy early in the year. If our plan is to run 80-85 plays per game, there is just no way to get 80-85 snaps out of a running back, so you are going to have D.J. Howard get some reps, and guys in certain situations will be what we call role players."
What are your thoughts on Tajh Boyd?
"He's a pleaser and worker. He wants to be good. He has to have a great summer and he has to take on that leadership role. He has to continue working on his footwork. Tajh knows it's a vital season for him. It's right in front of him and he's got to take ownership of it. I'd like him to be the ACC player of the year; that's the way I'm going to coach him to be the guy that brings this program back to where it needs to be."
What do you make of the potential of this incoming recruiting class?
"These guys were very good high school football players but now everyone was a very good high school football player when they came to the next level. It's our job to continue to develop them, not feel like they already came into their own. It has to be 'No, you haven't done anything yet. There have been a lot of guys like you that never developed past (star rating).' I have to make sure that doesn't happen, and the way you do that is by holding them accountable. And you demand from the very first day they step on campus that these our expectations of you and this our plan to get you to where you need to be and here's how we need to do it."