SO FAST, SO GOOD
Clemson's offensive single-season totals, with school history rank in parentheses:
2011: 33.6 (5)
2012: 41.0 (1)
2013: 40.2 (2)
2011: 440.8 (3)
2012: 512.7 (1)
2013: 507.7 (2)
2011: 1055 (2)
2012: 1062 (1)
2013: 1037 (3)
Yards per play
2011: 5.85 (5)
2012: 6.28 (3)
2013: 6.36 (2)
SUNSET - For the first time in his Clemson coaching career, Chad Morris isn't exactly sure how it'll go, that legendary chaotic offensive pace of his.
He knows there's no Tajh Boyd driving the bus, or Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins making plays in space, or a proven veteran out of the backfield or blocking off the edges.
As Morris surmised, that only makes 2014 more exciting. Not at all making him wish he was wearing another team's colors as the head man, which many would have guessed he would have been by now.
"No, I felt I was going to be here," Morris insisted Tuesday from the coaches' golf outing at The Reserve at Lake Keowee. "Without a doubt."
Well, there might have been some doubt sprinkled in there - at least publicly. Morris has been reported to flirt with Texas Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Louisville within the past two years, and his name is always among the first mentioned as coordinators with a bright head coaching future.
"I think Chad is a great man, and a great mind. Very energetic," offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell said. "But some people missed the boat. They had opportunities."
Yet Morris is content at Clemson. He knows it, and so does his boss, the one who gave Morris his second college opportunity after 15 years in the Texas high school system and a one-year stop at Tulsa.
"I don't ever go into it expecting to lose people," head coach Dabo Swinney said. "People who know Chad, know the kind of person he is. Chad's had a couple interviews, a couple opportunities that I think have been very beneficial to him. But he's not eager to leave Clemson. He loves it here. He's had a good gig. He's had some good players to coach."
Here's how proficient Morris has been from 2011-13: Clemson's three highest-yardage seasons, three fastest-tempo seasons and three of its top five highest-scoring seasons all belong to Morris.
The Tigers averaged more than 40 points per game each of the past two years; they'd never topped 35 before then. The Tigers averaged north of 500 yards per game each of the past two years, and 440.8 in 2011; the previous high was 436.8. And Clemson has run 1,000 offensive snaps in three seasons. Take a guess which three.
"It's been great to work with Chad. The players really feed off of his passion," wide receivers coach Jeff Scott said. "Obviously, we've had a lot of success, and I have no questions that he'll be a head coach one day whenever the timing's right for him. But each year we have him at Clemson is definitely a blessing."
Because of Morris' $1.3 million salary, the richest in the country for an offensive coordinator, not all power-conference schools can afford him.
There's also the realization that if Morris grabbed the first offer, it might not work out, and a career backslide wouldn't be unreasonable.
"I really hope that he gets that opportunity at some point. But you want it to be the right job," Swinney said. "Fortunately, he's in a position where he can take the right job. (Some people) take some of those jobs, and all of a sudden, you're never heard from again. He gets that. He understands that."
Citing his love of Clemson's organizational atmosphere and his family's fondness for Clemson, Morris never sounded like he was playing out the string with one more year when addressing the subject. Only an obvious chance to leap, as Morris put it, would coax him out of his current position.
"People look at me like I've got three eyes when I tell them that I don't want my first one to be my last one," Morris said. "If I do leave, I want everybody to sit here and go, 'Man, wow, thanks, we wish you the best, can't blame you' and not look at me and go, 'Why are you doing it?' That's just me.
"I'm not going to gauge whether I've been successful on, am I going to be a head coach? I've had that opportunity. My plans are to be a coordinator at Clemson for a long time. We love what we do, I work for a great man who allows me to run the offense. We'll continue to push forward. Excited about this year."