CLEMSON -- Near the top of Dabo Swinney's offseason to-do list was to have his quarterback more involved as a running threat. Like anyone else observing trends in college football, the Clemson coach witnessed how dual-threat quarterbacks are confounding defenses.
One reason why Swinney hired offensive coordinator Chad Morris was because he shared Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn's offensive philosophy, one which allowed quarterback Cam Newton to become a 1,000-yard rusher last season.
As improved as the Clemson offense is through nine weeks -- ranking 17th in total offense after ranking 88th a year ago -- Clemson still has one problem: its quarterback is not a rushing threat.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd has rushed for 164 yards in nine games this season, averaging less than 20 rushing yards per contest, and was limited to being a pocket passer at Georgia Tech.
When Clemson returns from its off-week to face Wake Forest next Saturday, Morris wants to see improvement in this area.
"I think he has to get involved in the run game," Morris said. "We tried to (run Boyd) last week on a third-and-2 and we couldn't convert with him running the ball. We have to involve him a little bit more in the run game and get him in a little bit of a groove. You hope nine games in he's able to come in and open it up a little more. "
Morris also wants to see Boyd be more consistent in his footwork. At Georgia Tech, some of Boyd's inaccurate throws were linked to throwing off his back foot.
"He wasn't setting his feet like needed to, especially on some of those throws out in the flat to the backs," Morris said.
After playing safety for the first time at Georgia Tech, defensive back Xavier Brewer said he is again practicing at safety this week.
Brewer, who typically plays cornerback, said he is working at strong safety while Rashard Hall and Jonathan Meeks are splitting time at free safety. Hall played just 31 snaps at Georgia Tech and has been limited by a knee injury that will likely require offseason surgery.
Better now than later
Right tackle Landon Walker said Clemson did not match Georgia Tech's intensity Saturday, and said the humbling experience might have come at a good time to refocus a young team, as Walker and others noted it is better to lose in November than in a potential ACC title game in December.